The Breakfast Club: Behind-the-Scenes Scoop on the Cast, Crew and Production
The Jock. The Brain. The Princess. The Basketcase. The Criminal. With a simple throw of Judd Nelson's fist, these five characters were etched into cinematic history. The Breakfast Club was a defining flick for the ‘80s teen generation.
The onscreen angst was impossible to escape, but some behind-the-scenes insight provides even more depth to the beloved film. Check out some of the most fascinating and quirky facts you probably didn’t know about the youth-defining flick from the ‘80s.
Nelson's Iconic Fist Pump Wasn't Scripted
We all remember Judd Nelson's legendary fist pump at the end of The Breakfast Club. In the iconic closing scene, John Bender strolls off into the sunset as "Don't You Forget About Me" blares in the background, pumping his fist in the air.
Their Group Therapy Was Almost Entirely Improvised
If you didn't cry during the sharing-circle scene in the movie, you might be a sociopath. The main characters' heart-to-heart on the floor of the library summarized the cult classic's main theme: High school isn't all pranks, laughs and harmless gossip.
Molly Ringwald Almost Played Allison
Could you imagine anyone in the role of Claire (a.k.a. "The Princess") other than Molly Ringwald? The pretty-in-pink redhead plays the school's popular girl without batting a faux eyelash. Ringwald — who was only 16 during filming — brought an authentically teenage performance to the popularity-obsessed character.
Judd Nelson Was a Menace Offscreen
Judd Nelson's portrayal of everyone's favorite sharp-tongued bully came at a cost. Nelson, who was actually 25 at the time of filming, played the role of John Bender (a.k.a. "The Criminal"). Nelson's tough onscreen portrayal of John was phenomenally intimidating, but his acting caused plenty of behind-the-scenes conflict.
The Breakfast Club Was Supposed to Have a Sequel
Hughes originally planned to write a series of films that would reunite the characters every decade. The only issue? The cast. John Hughes frequently experienced conflict with Judd Nelson while filming The Breakfast Club. As a result, he swore to never work with the actor again. Yikes.
The Film's Opening Quote Was Suggested by Sheedy
At the opening of the film, a quote from David Bowie’s song "Changes" is displayed against a black screen: "...And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They're quite aware of what they're going through..."
Ally Sheedy Gave Anthony Michael Hall an Adorable Nickname
Anthony Michael Hall's character, Brian Johnson (a.k.a. "The Brain"), is one of the angsty flick's sweetest characters. Johnson is socially awkward from the get-go, but he reveals his sensitive side throughout the movie, stealing the hearts of the audience.
Judd Nelson Went Undercover at a High School
What better way to learn how to play a bad boy than to spend your days with high schoolers? The Breakfast Club was filmed in Chicago, and several scenes were shot within a local alternative school, Main North High School. The cast members were allowed to wander through the school's halls during the day.
Ally Sheedy Owed Her Role to Two Black Eyes
When John Hughes wrote the script for The Breakfast Club, he was eager for the flick to be his directorial debut. However, Universal Studios favored producing his other script first: Sixteen Candles (1984). Although the leading role went to Molly Ringwald, another Breakfast Club familiar face also auditioned for Samantha Baker: Ally Sheedy.
John Hughes Wrote the Script in Two Days
Creatives can take weeks, months or even years to pump out their works of art. Yet it only took John Hughes two days to write The Breakfast Club. Considering the original script would have taken more than 2.5 hours to watch, writing it that quickly is quite an impressive feat.
Ringwald and Hall Had to Attend Real School
Nelson, Sheedy and Estevez were all over the age of 18, but both Ringwald and Hall were 16 when filming began. As a result, labor/school laws still applied to them, including completing their actual high school work.
Sheedy Didn't Have to Get into Character
"When you grow up, your heart dies." Sheedy's melodramatic line became a treasure among cast members and fans alike. Although Sheedy was in her early 20s when filming began, she didn't have to try hard to play the gothic teen.
There Isn’t a Punchline for John Bender's Joke
In the film, John is crawling through the school's air ducts at one point. Hughes asked Nelson to come up with a joke to tell during this scene. The result? "A naked blonde walks into a bar, with a poodle under one arm and a two-foot salami under the other..."
The Cast Members Were Smoking Oregano
At one point in the film, the cast of characters passed around a joint that John snuck in. The "weed" caused several of the characters to behave in funny and erratic ways, especially Brian, who was suddenly looser and craving strange foods.
They Cut a Killer Dream Sequence
While the dream sequence form of storytelling was once uber-popular — and a total blast to watch — John Hughes ultimately decided The Breakfast Club could live without one. He had originally scripted a dream sequence for the flick that was pretty bizarre.
Rick Moranis Was the Original Janitor
Although Carl the Janitor appears in only two of the film's scenes, he is at the epicenter of the flick. He is blackmailing Principal Vernon, which allows him to challenge authority in ways the kids can't. Carl (who had a love-hate relationship with the Brat Pack) was originally slated to be played by Ghostbusters actor, Rick Moranis.
Judd Nelson's Audition Didn't Go Smoothly
Nelson was infamous for his rambunctious behind-the-scenes behavior on the set. However, his audition for the role was just as notorious as his future behavior. When he showed up for his audition fully immersed in the persona of John Bender, he completely freaked out the people waiting.
Emilio Estevez's Character Was Supposed to Be a Football Star
Emilio Estevez's portrayal of Andrew Clark (a.k.a. "The Jock) is a stand-out performance in The Breakfast Club. His character goes through one of the most significant transformations in the film, as he reveals himself to be a tender-hearted kid, rather than a tough-fisted wrestler. In Hughes' original script, Andrew wasn't a wrestler at all.
Allison's Dull-Colored Costume Was Handmade
Colorful, neon garments defined the spastic era of the ‘80, not dark, depressing clothing. The emo/grunge look didn't roll around until the early ‘90. When it came to dressing Allison's character, the costume designer, Marilyn Vance, had difficulty finding pieces to support her depressing style.
John Hughes Trusted Ringwald
Despite the fact that Ringwald was only 16 years old at the time of filming, John Hughes prioritized her opinion over anyone else's — including his own. Ringwald was the primary star of other projects masterminded by Hughes, including the uber-popular Sixteen Candles. As Hughes' muse, she had a hand in many of his decisions on set.
The Cast Didn't Want to Fire Nelson
Ringwald wasn't bothered by Nelson's aggressive behavior as much as Hughes was. Despite Nelson's cruel comments and rude attitude offscreen, Ringwald understood it was just method acting. Still, Hughes was prepared to drop Nelson to soothe his own outrage.
Ringwald Had a Unique Costume Request
Ringwald's character in The Breakfast Club came from wealth, but she didn't want to dress like a stereotypical rich kid. Marilyn Vance shared, "She didn’t want to be the spoiled ‘daddy’s girl,’ which is originally what was planned. She was going to be wearing a shorter skirt, a crochet look with maybe a beret...something that would be more bratty."
Hughes Cut a Risqué Scene
It's hard to imagine The Breakfast Club having any room for NSFW scenes. However, in Hughes' original script, he managed to include a disturbing topless scene. Fortunately, the awkward shot didn't make it into the film, mainly due to protests from female cast and crew members.
Ringwald Criticized the Film's Lack of Diversity
Hughes' film may have appealed to teenagers of the ‘80s, but it was far from inclusive. The cast was completely white. When Ringwald was asked by Entertainment Tonight about a potential remake of the movie, she replied, "hopefully not one where everyone is so white."
The Original Title Was The Lunch Bunch
It's hard to imagine The Breakfast Club without its standout title. Still, in the original script, the film was called The Lunch Bunch. This title didn't quite capture the quirkiness of the film, and Hughes ultimately changed his mind.
There's a Haunting Message in the Graffiti
The beginning of the film features shots of Hughes' fictional high school, including cryptic graffiti spray painted on its walls. One phrase that appears within the graffiti is "I don't like Mondays." This phrase isn't just a high school lament. Rather, it's a reference to one of the first school shootings in the country.
John Hughes Made a Cameo as Brian's Father
At the end of the film, several of the students' parents pick them up. During casting, Hughes asked casting director Jackie Burch to play one of the fathers. Burch told HuffPost, "I think he was channeling Alfred Hitchcock...Normally, I don’t love stuff like that, but this was great."
Allison's Dandruff Was Parmesan Cheese Flakes
One of the yuckiest elements in The Breakfast Club was accomplished using a strange method: grating chunks of Parmesan cheese. Yep, the crumbly cheese flakes were used to represent Allison's copious dandruff in the film.
The Library Was Scorching Hot
The majority of the film was shot in a singular, enclosed room: the library. In order to keep the set well lit, they had to use a ton of stage lights. The fixtures quickly heated up the room, resulting in temperatures of up to 110 degrees.
“Don't You Forget About Me” Was Written for the Flick
The soundtrack for The Breakfast Club was full of authentic ‘80s hits and jingles, such as "Waiting" by E.G. Daily, "Heart Too Hot to Hold" by Jesse Johnson/Stephanie Spruill and several instrumental bops by composer Keith Forsey. Of course, the most notable of them all was the legendary final song, "Don't You Forget About Me."