John Hughes’ Muses: Then and Now

They charmed us with feathered hair and hair-brained schemes—and now they’re all grown up. In honor of his death, The Daily Beast catches up with the quirky cast that brought filmmaker John Hughes’ work to life. VIEW OUR GALLERY.

Paramount / Everett; AP Photo

Paramount / Everett; AP Photo

Molly Ringwald (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink)

From the mid to late ‘80s, Molly Ringwald was John Hughes’ indisputable muse—and thanks to his films, the carrot-topped teen rose to become America’s angst-ridden sweetheart. At her most popular, the Brat Packer had minions of adolescent girl fans, called “Ringlets,” who emulated her every move, VH1 reports. In the ‘90s, Ringwald left Hollywood for Paris, where she lived for many years, only occasionally acting. Last year, she stepped back into the limelight, starring in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager—this time as a mother. Ringwald’s a mom in real-life, too: On July 11, she and her husband welcomed fraternal twins, Adele and Roman. They’re also parents to 5-year-old Mathilde.

Paramount / Everett; Brad Barket / Getty Images

Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink)

After starring in Hughes’ Pretty in Pink, Andrew McCarthy made his mark in the ‘80s and early ‘90s with fan favorites like Weekend at Bernie’s and Mannequin. While most would agree he peaked when acid-washed jeans and Members Only jackets were the rage, the one-time heartthrob has maintained a bigger Hollywood presence than some of Hughes’ other darlings. In 2008, the 46-year-old was cast as cynical billionaire Joe Bennett in NBC’s recently canceled Lipstick Jungle, and earlier this year he guest-starred on mega-hit Gossip Girl.

20th Century Fox / Everett; David Livingston / Getty Images

Macaulay Culkin (Uncle Buck, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York)

Who could forget Kevin McCallister? (Except his entire family, twice.) Child star Culkin became a household name with 1990’s Home Alone, inspiring kids nationwide to booby trap their homes and douse their faces in aftershave. He went on to star in My Girl and other successful films—before crashing and burning as a teenager. (Of particular interest today: In 1992, Culkin appeared in Michael Jackson’s Black or White video, and Jackson later named him godfather of his kids.) Over the past few years, Culkin seems to have gotten his life on track. In 2004, he appeared in the critically acclaimed film Saved!, and earlier this year, he appeared in the NBC drama Kings.

Universal Pictures / Everett; David Livingston / Getty Images

Gedde Watanabe (Sixteen Candles)

“What’s happenin’, hot stuff?” These words will forever be burned into Gen-X brains as the hilarious introduction of Long Duk Dong, the politically incorrect, oversexed foreign-exchange student played by Gedde Watanabe in Sixteen Candles. “People still come up to me to this day and quote my lines,” the Japanese-American actor told NPR last year. Since that breakout role, “The Donger,” now 54, has appeared in the occasional film and TV show, including ER and Seinfeld. But he’s found a calling in voice-over work. His long list of credits includes Family Guy and The Simpsons. He also cameoed in last year’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And by the way—that semi-offensive Asian accent? Totally fake. He grew up in California.

Paramount / Everett; Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Jennifer Grey (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Before she was Baby in Dirty Dancing, she was Matthew Broderick’s baby sister in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Following these breakout roles, Jennifer Grey underwent two highly publicized nose jobs—surgeries that altered her appearance so dramatically that even close friends failed to recognize her. “It was like being in a witness-protection program or being invisible,” she later commented. From there, Grey’s acting career went downhill. While she continues to find work—in 2007, she appeared in the short-lived HBO series John From Cincinnati—she never saw a true comeback. Grey lives in L.A. with actor-husband Clark Gregg, star of the CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, and her daughter, Stella.

MC / Everett; Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Anthony Michael Hall (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science)

Throughout the ‘80s, Hughes repeatedly cast Hall as the scrawny, socially awkward dweeb—who always manages to come out on top. Some suspected that Hughes was “treating the young actor as an alter ego, reliving his own ‘misfit’ high school years,” according to VH1. By the ‘90s, the Brat Packer had filled out and outgrown his nerdy shtick. Over the next decade, while navigating a sometimes-rocky personal life, he appeared in a handful of unremarkable projects, before making a comeback in 2003 with USA’s The Dead Zone. In the popular sci-fi series, which grew out of a 1979 Stephen King novel, Hall starred as psychic Johnny Smith. And last year, he made his mark again as a Gotham City newscaster in the Oscar-winning The Dark Knight.

Universal / Everett; Robert Pitts / Landov

Gaby Hoffmann (Uncle Buck)

Precocious child actress Gaby Hoffmann made a name for herself in Hughes’ Uncle Buck—playing Macaulay Culkin’s sister and John Candy’s niece—as well as in movies like Field of Dreams and Sleepless in Seattle. After stepping out of the limelight for several years, Hoffmann, now 27, is gradually returning. She stars in the comedy/drama Life During Wartime with fellow Hughes’ alum Ally Sheedy, due out later this year, and she recently filmed upcoming thriller 13 with Mickey Rourke and Ray Liotta.

20th Century Fox / Everett; John M. Heller / Getty Images

Daniel Stern (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York)

He won our hearts as clumsy “Wet Bandit” Marv in Home Alone and continued to charm in City Slickers and Bushwacked. He drew acclaim playing the role of narrator—a.k.a., grown-up Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage)—in The Wonder Years. And while his career has slowed since the ‘90s, Stern’s about to make a comeback: This October, he’ll hit the big screen again as Ellen Page’s dad in Whip It, “a girl power and indie-rock infused coming-of-age” story, as the Huffington Post describes it. The much-anticipated film—in which Page joins a Texas roller derby team—marks Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut and stars Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden and Jimmy Fallon.

Paramount / Everett; Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Jon Cryer (Pretty in Pink)

Maybe nice guys do finish first. After portraying Duckie, the earnest, dorky best friend—and unrequited lover—of Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) in Pretty in Pink, Cryer has enjoyed a successful career in comedy. For the past six years, he’s starred alongside Charlie Sheen on the popular CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, scoring three Emmy nods. The actor also stars in the upcoming movie Shorts, in theaters next month, with Pretty in Pink co-star James Spader.

Universal / Everett; Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Kelly LeBrock (Weird Science)

Science experiments get old, too, it seems. In the early ‘80s, stunner Kelly LeBrock popularized the phrase "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" as a model for Pantene hair products. A few years later, she rose to fame portraying Lisa, a dream woman created by high-school geeks Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) in Weird Science. In the ‘90s, LeBrock married (and later divorced) actor Steven Seagal and spent the next several years raising their three kids. In 2006, she resurfaced, appearing on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club many pounds heavier. While she lost 31 pounds on the show, she’s reportedly gained it back—and embraced her larger self.

Everett; Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Vacation, National Lampoon’s European Vacation, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

Chevy Chase secured his place in the annals of comedy portraying hapless family man Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s “vacation” movies, written by Hughes. While the comic great has been mocked for his slumping career—many have commented that, one day, Chase woke up and simply stopped being funny—he’s recently shown promise. Earlier this year, he guest-starred on NBC’s spy-comedy Chuck. And this spring, he landed his first regular prime-time series gig ever, in the NBC comedy pilot Community, alongside The Soup’s Joel McHale. We’ll soon see if he still has it.

Everett; Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club)

Like many Hughes alums, Sheedy—who played quirky outcast Allison Reynolds in The Breakfast Club, before starring with several other Brat Packers in St. Elmo’s Fire—peaked in the ‘80s. Although she continues to work as a TV actress, she’s mostly faded from the public eye. She did appear on USA Network’s popular comedy Psych earlier this year.

MCA / Everett; Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)

After starring as misfit bad boy John Bender in The Breakfast Club—and securing his place in the Brat Pack in St. Elmo’s Fire—Judd Nelson’s career sputtered. In the late ‘90s, Nelson starred in the sitcom Suddenly Susan, with Brooke Shields, and he’s appeared on CSI, Las Vegas and other TV dramas in recent years. But the 49-year-old hit his professional high point, it seems, in the Reagan era.

20th Century Fox / Everett; Michael Buckner / Getty Images

Catherine O'Hara (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York)

Comedienne Catherine O’Hara won the empathy of mothers everywhere with her portrayal of Kate McCallister, concerned mother of Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) in Home Alone and Home Alone 2. And her career hasn’t slowed down since. From the Christopher Guest movies Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show (among others) to most recently, the critically acclaimed Away We Go, the 55-year-old rarely disappoints. In October, she’ll star as the voice of Judith in the highly anticipated big-screen adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

20th Century Fox / Everett; Jeff Vespa, WireImage / Getty Images

John Heard (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York)

As dad Peter McAllister in Home Alone—and earlier, in classics like Big and Beaches—John Heard was a late ‘80s/early ‘90s staple. While his big-screen career eventually fizzled, he’s maintained a solid TV résumé. Over the past few years, the 64-year-old has appeared on shows including The Sopranos, Southland, Entourage and Prison Break.

Paramount / Everett; Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

James Spader (Pretty in Pink)

Every high school has its jerks, and James Spader played one to perfection in Pretty in Pink. As feather-haired rich kid Steff—best friend of fellow rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy)—Spader creepily and secretly pursues Andie (Molly Ringwald) in the film, while calling her a “mutant” in public. After Pink, he went on to win accolades for his role in 1989’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape. And more recently, a balder, bespectacled Spader has starred in The Practice and Boston Legal, earning him three Emmy Awards.

Universal / Everett

Michael Schoeffling (Sixteen Candles)

Jake Ryan. The name alone makes women swoon. Just ask Washington Post reporter Hank Stuever, who wrote about the too-good-to-be-true hunk's enduring power over the female species. While Jake may live on, sadly, Michael Schoeffling's acting career has not. After starring in a handful of films after Sixteen Candles—including Mermaids, alongside Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci, and Cher—Schoeffling reportedly had trouble landing roles. He eventually left showbiz and went into the furniture-making business. He reportedly lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two teenage kids, though he's remained unusually elusive since the '90s. "Reporters have gone looking for him since with no luck," the Los Angeles Times reports. Wonder if he still drives that Porche.