34 Stars of Popular ’80s Movies: Then And Now

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Judd Nelson - The Breakfast Club & St. Elmo's Fire
Judd Nelson - The Breakfast Club & St. Elmo's Fire
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/Getty Images
In the 1980’s, Judd Nelson was one of the most popular members of the Brat Pack, Molly Ringwald beating him slightly. He made a name for himself playing the “criminal” in The Breakfast Club so much so, people still talk about this role 30 years later. After his 80’s glory days, he found success as Nick Peretti in New Jack City and as Jack Richmond in Suddenly Susan. Since then he’s stayed fairly active, making small guest appearances in film and on television, having a pivotal role in the last season of Nikita but hasn’t maintained the same level of success. In 2016 we can look forward to Judd reprising his role of Rodimus Prime from the 80’s animated film The Transformers: The Movie in the fourth installment in Michael Bay’s Transformers series.
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Emilio Estevez - The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, & The Outsiders
Emilio Estevez - The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, & The Outsiders
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Emilio Estevez did the best out of all the other men in The Breakfast Club. After his universal success in the 80’s, he went on to star in big films like Repo Man, Mamimum Overdrive, and Young Guns. But more importantly, he gave us some fantastic performances in The Mighty Ducks series. Over his career, he’s worked as a director/writer/actor and managed to find the time to work with his brother, Charlie Sheen, in Men at Work and has worked with his father, Martin Sheen, countless times. He hasn’t appeared in front of the camera since 2010’s The Way but is currently slated to write, direct, and star in the film The Public, co-starring Aubrey Plaza.
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Molly Ringwald - The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, & Pretty in Pink
Molly Ringwald - The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, & Pretty in Pink
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
VH1’s #1 Greatest Teen Star, Queen of the Brat Pack, and ruler of the 1980’s, no one has forgotten Molly Ringwald. From 2008 to 2013 she starred on the ABC Family drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager, in which she was the mother of a pregnant teen (a younger Shailene Woodley). In the 1990’s, Ringwald apparently turned down roles in Pretty Woman and Ghost and that decade was not as kind to her ratings wise as the 80’s had been. In 2013, she released a jazz album, Except Sometimes, which was partially inspired by her father's love of jazz. In 2015, we can look forward to her starring in Jem: The Movie.
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Ally Sheedy - The Breakfast Club, Short Circuit, & St. Elmo's Fire
Ally Sheedy - The Breakfast Club, Short Circuit, & St. Elmo's Fire
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
While Molly Ringwald was the designated “It” Girl of the 80’s, Sheedy was the weird girl that we loved in films like The Breakfast Club and Short Circuit. She was most active in the 1980s, moving onto the made-for-TV films in the 90’s, with the exception of the critically acclaimed High Art in 1998, and then guest appearances in the 00’s. She was on a few episodes of Psych between 2009-2013. Most recently she can be seen in the TV-film, Client Seduction, as Melissa Eco.
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Anthony Michael Hall - The Breakfast Club & Sixteen Candles
Anthony Michael Hall - The Breakfast Club & Sixteen Candles
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Hall was the geek. Every movie you saw him in he was the nerd: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science. In 1985, when he was 17-years-old, he tried to break that typecast by joining the cast of Saturday Night Live, making him the youngest person ever to be on the sketch comedy show, but that only lasted for a season. In addition to that, he turned down two roles John Hughes wrote for him: Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Duckie in Pretty In Pink. He was on the highest-rated cable TV series from 2002-2007, The Dead Zone. From 2011-2012, he appeared on the show Warehouse 13. In 2014 he had a small role in the Oscar-nominated Foxcatcher. In 2015 he will appear in the indie-romance Results.
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Jeff Cohen - The Goonies
Jeff Cohen - The Goonies
Warner Bros via Everett Collection/Twitter
Chunk isn’t fat anymore. So, no more Truffle Shuffle! Fun fact: Cohen had the chicken pox when The Goonies began filming and fearful for getting recast, he told no one, so in the infamous scene, you can see them on his chest. He hasn’t acted since 1991, officially making him a child star that has moved on. Nowadays, he’s an attorney, and founding partner of Cohen & Gardner, LLP. Early in 2014 he began writing about business, legal and political matters for the Huffington Post and CNBC.
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Sean Astin - The Goonies
Sean Astin - The Goonies
Warner Bros via Everett Collection/WENN
The Goonies was Astin’s film debut and while most of us cherish the film and hold it close to our hearts, he didn’t receive critical success until the early 2000’s. After portraying Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s bestie, in The Lord of the Rings series, Astin really didn’t need to do anything else (at least financially), but he’s never stopped working. Currently, you can hear him on both Nick and Disney Junior, as Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and on Special Agent Oso. In 2014 he also joined the people at FX on the show The Strain as CDC worker, Jim Kent. He’s also really into running marathons, with plans to run some Disney themed ones.
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Jonathan Ke Quan - The Goonies
Jonathan Ke Quan - The Goonies
Warner Bros via Everett Collection/Getty Images
Quan, born and credited as Ke Huy-Quan, was the beloved Data in The Goonies but he’s also wildly remembered for portraying Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. He’s trained in Taekwondo and was a stunt choreographer on X-Men. He hasn’t appeared on film since the 2002 Chinese film, Second Time Around. He’s spent the last few years laying low, and he likes it that way, but when the rumors came out this year that there would be a sequel to the film, fans are hopeful that this will bring Quan back into the acting business.
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Josh Brolin - The Goonies
Josh Brolin - The Goonies
Warner Bros via Everett Collection/WENN
Brolin is one of many on this list who has gotten insanely more famous since starring in their beloved 80’s classic. Actually, you might not have even have realized that Brand Walsh was a 17-year-old Josh Brolin. He’s not nearly as skinny as he used to be. Nowadays he’s just dominating the box office, with a face that can manage to be menacing and sultry (at the same time, that’s talent ladies and gents). His biggest roles post Goonies have been: W., No Country for Old Men, American Gangster, True Grit, Gangster Squad, and Oldboy. Most recently portraying Marvel super villian Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy, which he will reprise in the Avengers sequel.
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Corey Feldman - The Goonies (and every other movie you loved in the 80's)
Corey Feldman - The Goonies (and every other movie you loved in the 80's)
Warner Bros via Everett Collection/Splash News
Feldman went on to star in many other 80’s classics, like The Lost Boys, Gremlins, and Stand By Me. He became one half of “The Two Coreys,” a duo that seemed like they would rule the world, but really just rule the party scene until things got bad, then so much worse. After a very public battle with drug addiction, Felman tried rebranding himself by working on independent films and dabbling in directing, but never found the same level of success again. Since his decline, he’s appeared on various different reality shows, some of which deal with addiction. In 2013, he released his biography, that began with his start as a child star and ended with the death of his best friend Corey Haim, also cataloging his addiction problems and brought to light his victimization in Hollywood pedophilia. As of January 2014, Feldman started hosting a show on Battlecam.com called Corey’s Angels Talk Live.
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Wil Wheaton - Stand By Me
Wil Wheaton - Stand By Me
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
After Stand By Me, Wheaton found a plethora of success as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, his character and thus himself, were widely disliked by Star Trek fans all around. Since then, Wheaton has continually appeared on the popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory as himself, as an antagonist –turned-friend to Sheldon Cooper’s character. He was also in Sharknado 2: The Second One in 2014.
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Jerry O’Connell - Stand By Me
Jerry O’Connell - Stand By Me
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Little Vern Tessio is all grown up and damn he looks good. Stand By Me was his first big break and since then, he’s ditched the chubby kid look to become a bonafide hunk and star in popular TV shows: Sliders, My Secret Identity, and Crossing Jordan. He’s also appeared in popular films Scream 2, Kangaroo Jack, and Piranha 3D. We think his biggest success was snatching up Rebecca Romijn after her breakup with fellow 80/90’s heartthrob John Stamos. The two have been happily married since 2007 and have twin girls together. In 2015, he will voice Clark Kent/Superman in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and appear in an episode of TNT’s show The Librarians.
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Kiefer Sutherland - Stand By Me & The Lost Boys
Kiefer Sutherland - Stand By Me & The Lost Boys
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection/Splash News
Back before Jack Bauer existed, Kiefer was playing the jerk in Stand By Me. Only 3 years later he was starring in the cult classic The Lost Boys with The 2 Corey’s. Since the 80’s, Kiefer has been working hard in Hollywood. His biggest success came from the show 24 that ran from 2001-2010, with a revival series in 2014. That same year, he appeared in the film Pompeii. In 2015 you can hear his voice in the game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
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Justin Henry - Sixteen Candles
Justin Henry - Sixteen Candles
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Mike Baker (or maybe you remember him as Billy Kramer from Kramer vs. Kramer) isn’t up to much acting wise. After some more supporting roles in films like Martin’s Day and Sweet Heart’s Dance, his acting career tapered off. He appeared in the 2004 film Lost and then in 2007 in The Junior Defenders as Jimmy Flecher.
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Gedde Watanabe - Sixteen Candles & Gung Ho
Gedde Watanabe - Sixteen Candles & Gung Ho
Universal Pictures/Getty Images
One of the most memorable characters from Sixteen Candles is foreign exchange student, Long Duk Dong, but Watanabe (born in Ohio, of Japanese descent) does not have that accent, nor does he speak Japanese. Watanabe has done a few characters as stereotypical as Dong, but he also managed to have a serious career as well, appearing on the Weird Al Show and as a gay nurse of E.R. from 1998 to 2002. He has done a lot of voice work on TV, lending his voice to the shows The Simpsons, Rugrats, Batman Beyond, and more. Most recently on TV he was Terrence in an episode of Modern Family. In 2013, he was a troupe leader in 47 Ronin.
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Haviland Morris - Sixteen Candles
Haviland Morris - Sixteen Candles
Universal Pictures/WENN
After playing the popular mean girl in Sixteen Candles, Morris appeared in Madonna’s Who’s The Girl and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (with Sixteen Candles co-star, Gedde Watanabe). She has had a few guest appearances on TV (managing to get on Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent). 2012 was the last year she was on screen, appearing as Jack’s mom in the film Jack & Diane and in episode of The Good Wife. She currently works as a real estate salesperson and has won "Rookie of the Year" for her outstanding customer service with the Halstead Real Estate.
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Michael J. Fox - Back To The Future
Michael J. Fox - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/Splash News
To us, Fox will always be Marty McFly. We still envy his self-tying shoes and hover board every time we watch the Back To The Future trilogy. He had a lot of success in the 80’s with his role as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties and then success in the 90’s with his role of Mike on Spin City. In 1998 he publicly announced he had bee diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and in 2001 he semi-retired from acting, a decade after he was actually diagnosed. For a while he did a lot voice-over work, like in Stuart Little series. He has played a recurring character on The Good Wife since 2010 and in 2013 he was on the flop TV-series The Michael J. Fox Show. He has a small cameo in the remake of Annie at the end of 2014. He has remained very active in finding a cure for Parkinson’s since his diagnosis and has received an honorary doctorate for his contributions to research into the disease.
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Christopher Lloyd - Back To The Future
Christopher Lloyd - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures/Splash News
Christopher Lloyd has not taken a single year off from acting. From Back To The Future’s 1985 release to now, Lloyd can be found either on TV or in film every single year, most notably playing Uncle Fester in The Addams Family series and Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In 2015 he can be found in the films 88 and The Boat Builder.
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Lea Thompson - Back To The Future
Lea Thompson - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Lea Thompson is another person on this list who didn’t let the 1980’s be her defining decade (minus her mistake of being in Howard The Duck). Since her time as Lorraine Baines McFly, she has starred in in Caroline in the City from 1995 to 2000, The Beverly Hilbillies film, and has been on the ABC Family TV-show Switched At Birth since 2011.
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Thomas F. Wilson - Back To The Future
Thomas F. Wilson - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures/IMDB
Biff, than Griff, then Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen - Wilson is best known for his role in the Back To The Future trilogy, but he’s actually put in a lot of work as an actor and voice actor, his most 2nd most notable on-screen performance being Coach Ben Fredericks on the cult-classic Freaks & Geeks. However, his longest running gig is on the popular Nick cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, providing the show with multiple voices. He appeared in the 2004 film and will be in the 2015 movie The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water. He also performs standup comedy and does a little song about the repetitive questions he’s been asked about Back To The Future.
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Claudia Wells - Back To The Future
Claudia Wells - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures/WENN
Due to her mother’s illness, Wells did not appear in the sequels to Back To The Future, though she got to reprise the role (with her voice at least) over 26 years later for the game. In 1986 she was on the very short-lived show Fast Times (based on the film) where she portrayed Linda Barrett. From 1986-2008 she was absent from the acting world, but has since made some small appearances on TV, like on the show The Mentalist. In 2014 she was in the sci-fi film Starship: Rising and in 2015 will be in Room and Board.
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Crispin Glover - Back To The Future
Crispin Glover - Back To The Future
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/Getty Images
Crispin Glover has made a name for himself as being an eccentric actor, playing people such as George McFly in Back To The Future, Rubin Farr in Rubin and Ed, the “Thin Man” in the screen adaptation of Charlie’s Angels, and countless more films. He’s done some voice work, playing Fifi in the Open Season series. Most recently he was in the films The Bag Man as Ned and Aimy In A Cage as Claude.
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Matthew Broderick - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Matthew Broderick - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Since his days as Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick has found success as an actor both on-screen and on stage. He was also the voice of our favorite lion, Simba, in The Lion King series. He received a Tony award in 1995 for his performance in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. He appeared in the film and stage version of The Producers with Nathan Lane and lost the Tony award that year to Lane. Most recently they both could be found on stage in the production of It’s Only A Play with Stockard Channing and Rupert Grint. He will portray himself in the 2015 documentary The Gettysburg Address.
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Alan Ruck - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Alan Ruck - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/Splash News
After playing Ferris’s hypochondriac best friend, Ruck (actually 29 at the time) went on to find success outside of the high-school roles, playing the power-hungry Stuart Bondek on Spin City from 1996-2002. Since then he’s had guest appearances on TV shows like Greek, Medium, Pysch, and most recently the show Intelligence. In 2014, Ruck and his second wife Mireille Enos had their second son Larkin Zouey.
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Mia Sara - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Mia Sara - Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/Getty Images
After her time as Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, she managed to snag a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in Timecop. She was on the short-lived shows Time Trax and Birds of Prey. Since then she’s been on the miniseries Witches of Oz. She’s married two sons of famous men, her first husband being Jason Connery (Sean Connery’s son) but they divorced in 2002. She is now married to Brian Henson (son of Muppets creator Jim Henson).
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Charlie Sheen - Ferris Bueller's Day Off (and pretty much everything else)
Charlie Sheen - Ferris Bueller's Day Off (and pretty much everything else)
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Sheen reprised his Ferris Bueller’s Day off role as “Boy In Police Station” for an episode of The Goldbergs almost 30 years after the film’s release. Since then, the world has learned everything there is to know about Charlie Sheen…we won’t forget his “winning” and “tiger blood” craze, but we’re sure Sheen is enjoying all the money he’s made from his successful films like Wall Street, Young Guns, Money Talks, and Being John Malkovich. We can’t forget all those years he spent on Two and a Half Men, which he may make a cameo in for the show’s finale in 2015. After being very publicly kicked off that show, Sheen managed to get his act together enough to be on his own new show Anger Management from 2012-2014 and will have a cameo in 2015’s Scary Movie 5.
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Jennifer Grey - Dirty Dancing & Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Jennifer Grey - Dirty Dancing & Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Vestron Pictures/WENN
After her success as Baby, Jennifer Grey did a lot of made-for-TV films, like Criminal Justice, Eye of A Witness, Since You’ve Been Gone, and Road To Christmas. Most notably since her Dirty Dancing days, she won the 2010 season of Dancing With The Stars. She’s been married to actor Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson from The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ) since 2001 and that have a daughter together.
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Sean Penn - Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Sean Penn - Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Universal Pictures/Splash News
Looking at Sean Penn now, you would never think he played an always-stoned surfer, and that goes to show how talented he is! After Fast Times he moved towards a more serious career path but it wasn’t until the 1995 film Dead Man Walking that people really started taking him seriously. Since then he’s won two Academy Awards for Mystic River and Milk. His extensive film career aside, Penn is known for being very politically and socially active. Most notably for his criticism of the George W. Bush administration, his humanitarian efforts after Hurricane Katrina, and his support of same-sex marriage.
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Jennifer Jason Leigh - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Jennifer Jason Leigh - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Universal Pictures/WENN
Over the years Leigh has had some memorable roles in films like Single White Female, Georgia, and Short Cuts. She’s known for having a very intensive method-inspired research into all of the roles she portrays. In 2013 she was in the film-adaptation of The Spectacular Now. She just finished production for Amityville and is set to film The Hateful Eight (starring Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell) and Anomalisa.
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Judge Reinhold - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Judge Reinhold - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Universal/WENN
Since his days as Brad Hamilton, Reinhold has had some high-profile TV guest star spots, such as a “close talker” on Seinfeld and as “The Honorable Judge Reinhold” on Arrested Development. He was Det. William "Billy" Rosewood in the Beverly Hills Cop series and will reprise the role, with Eddie Murphy returning as well, for a fourth installment set to release in 2016.
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Robert Romanus - Fast Times at Ridgemont High & Gremlins
Robert Romanus - Fast Times at Ridgemont High & Gremlins
Universal/Getty Images
We might remember him as Damone, the ticket scalper in Fast Times but he’s probably more widely known as Natalie Green’s boyfriend Snake on The Facts of Life. His had some guest appearances on TV, in Touch, Cold Case, and most recently Cougar Town. In 2012 he opened a café in North Hollywood, Bob’s Espresso Bar.
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Phoebe Cates - Fast Times at Ridgemont High & Gremlins
Phoebe Cates - Fast Times at Ridgemont High & Gremlins
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Phoebe Cates has not acted since 2001, when she appeared in The Anniversary party, written by her real-life BFF and old co-star, Jennifer Jason Leigh. She’s been married to actor Kevin Kline since 1989 and they have a daughter, Greta, and a son, Owen, together. In 2005 She opened her own boutique, called Blue Tree in New York on Madison Ave.
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Kevin Bacon - Footloose
Kevin Bacon - Footloose
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Kevin Bacon has done so much notable work (like Apollo 13, National Lampoon’s Animal House, and Mystic River), before and after Footloose, that there is this thing called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” which is a play on the idea of “six degrees of separation” which posits that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. He is currently on Fox’s show The Following, with the films 6 Miranda Drive and Black Mass to be released some time in 2015.
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Lori Singer - Footloose
Lori Singer - Footloose
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Unlike her Footloose co-star Kevin Bacon, singer has not been as active with her acting career. She was in The Man With One Red Shoe in 1985 and has done several TV guest-appearances, most recently in 2011 on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2013 Singer executive produced the documentary Mea Maxima Culpa; Silence in the House of God. In was later nominated for five prime-time Emmy awards; it won three.

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