"Don't you forget about me!" As any '80s lover would know, the decade was booming when it came to the film industry, and it's hard to forget about all the classics. There are tons of stars who are around in 2018 that got their start as a teenager in an '80s film. From Patrick Dempsey to Winona Ryder, 91% of people can't identify these 1980s teen stars from an image. Can you?
While actors like Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger were household names in the 1980s, many people were starting to notice the new group of teen stars. The decade was led by actors like Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future and Teen Wolf. While they were leading the film industry on their own, there was nothing that compared to the elite group of teen stars known as the "Brat Pack." Led by actors like Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson, these teens starred in films such as The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire. This elite group also featured Andrew McCarthy, Anthony Michaell Hall, and Rob Lowe.
These were some of the biggest stars of the '80s and while you might recognize their names and their older appearances, can you recognize them as an '80s teen? Let's find out!
Michael J. Fox was one of the greatest teen stars of the 1980s. Born in Canada, his first major hit was starring as Alex P. Keaton in the sitcom, "Family Ties." Fox went on to star in the "Back to the Future" trilogy, "Teen Wolf" and "Bright Lights, Big City." He suffers from Parkinson's disease and was diagnosed in 1991. He continues to fight to find a cure.
Born in 1969, Christian Slater received an early start in his acting career, starring in "The Edge of Night" soap opera (his father was a soap opera actor) at the age of 7. Slater went on to a number of TV roles and made-for-TV movies before moving to Hollywood to star in "Heathers" in 1988. The movie became a cult classic and Slater's career continued to rise with roles in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," "True Romance," and "Broken Arrow."
James Spader's first major role was in the 1981 movie, "Endless Love" with Brooke Shields. Spader then went on to a part in John Hughes' teen epic, "Pretty in Pink" with Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer. He ended the '80s moving in a different direction, first starring in "Less Than Zero," "Wall Street" and "Sex, Lies, and Videotape."
Kirk Cameron came to prominence in the 1980s playing teenager, Mike Seaver on the sitcom, "Growing Pains." He went to star in "Like Father, Like Son" with Dudley Moore and other movies towards the end of the 1980s. Cameron is a born again Christian who now acts in religious movies, like 2008's "Fireproof."
Johnny Depp got his big break in Hollywood in "A Nightmare On Elm Street" in 1984. It was his starring role in the TV series, "21 Jump Street," from 1987 to 1990, however, that thrust Depp into the realms of a teenage heartthrob. What followed is one of the most versatile acting careers in Tinseltown with Depp seemingly able to play any kind of character.
Although now recognized for his role in the hit TV-series, "Arrested Development" and numerous Hollywood films, Jason Bateman first came to the fore as a teen star in the '80s. Bateman had recurring parts in "Little House on the Prairie," "Silver Spoons," "It's Your Move," and "Valerie," where at the age of 18, he even directed some episodes. Bateman also appeared in an episode of the popular, "Knight Rider."
Molly Ringwald was the poster girl for '80s Hollywood teen movies. She starred in some of the biggest blockbusters of that decade, including "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," and "The Breakfast Club." Before that, Ringwald was part of the popular TV series, "The Facts of Life." Her career never really took off after the '80s, a fact not helped by the fact that she turned down the starring roles in both "Pretty Woman" and "Ghost."
Wynona Rider first appeared on our screens in the 1986 movie, "Lucas." This was followed by bigger roles in "Beetlejuice," "Heathers," and "Great Balls of Fire." By the start of the 1990s, she was one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood.
Charlie Sheen's Hollywood successes and excesses are well documented. Sheen started his career in the 1970s in a few minor roles, including an uncredited screen appearance in "Apocolypse Now." His first major role was in the cold war based, "Red Dawn," a movie in which American teenagers fight back against invading Soviet forces. After a number of made-for-TV movies, Sheen's career took off towards the end of the '80s with major parts in "Platoon," "Wall Street," "Young Guns" and "Major League."
Andrew McCarthy made quite a name for himself in the 1980s as a teen heartthrob. He appeared in movies such as "St Elmo's Fire," "Pretty in Pink," and "Mannequin," as well as the comedy, "Weekend at Bernie's." Although McCarthy continued acting after the '80s, his career never quite hit those heights again. He continues to act as well as direct TV series' such as "Orange Is The New Black" and "The Black List."
At the start of the '80s, Sean Penn starred in a number of what have become cult classics including, "Taps" and "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." Penn's acting credentials, however, were there for all to see and more roles followed in "The Falcon And The Snowman" and "At Close Range." Penn then married Madonna and even starred in a movie with her - 1986's "Desperately Seeking Susan." It wasn't very good. Penn salvaged his career with more brilliant performances in "Casualties of War," "Colors" and "We're No Angels" toward the end of the decade.
Although 23 at the time, Ralph Macchio introduced himself to silver screen audiences as the teenage Karate Kid in 1984. Together with Mr. Miyagi (played by Pat Morita), Macchio not only learned how to handle his own emotions through karate but also how to deal with bullies. Oh and he also got the girl (Elizabeth Shue) as well. Macchio replayed the role in two more movies and also starred "Crossroads" and a few other movies during the decade. He originally made a name for himself in the TV series, "Eight Is Enough."
Many remember Sean Astin for his role as Samwise Gamgee, the faithful hobbit friend of Frodo Baggins in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Astin, however, was a star in the 1980s, where he was involved in one of the most epic kid's adventures at the time, "The Goonies."
Before he was Ironman, Robert Downey Jr. starred in a number of movies during the '80s. It was his role as Julian, a drug addict in 1987's "Less Than Zero" that really showed his acting prowess. Much like the character in the movie, Downey Jr. struggled with a drug problem, although he is now clean and acting in some of the biggest blockbusters to come out of Hollywood.
Much the same as Hollywood counterparts Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates rose to prominence in the 1982 movie, "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." But it was the 1984 blockbuster, "Gremlins," that shot Cates into the teen pin-up stratosphere! Cates went on to roles in other Hollywood productions, including "Bright Lights, Big City" with Michael J. Fox.
Wil Wheaton is perhaps most well known for playing Wesley Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." But he also had a role in one of the greatest buddy movies of the '80s, "Stand By Me which," was based on a Stephen King novel. Wheaton now has an occasional role playing himself in "The Big Bang Theory" while he lends his voice to many animation series as well as video games.
A member of the 1980s 'Brat Pack,' Rob Lowe had starring roles in a number of the decade's best teen flicks, including "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Oxford Blues." Lowe's career never really took off from that, however, although he continued to land roles in smaller productions until he landed a major TV part in "The West Wing" from 1999 to 2006.
It was the TV series, "Doogie Hower, M.D.," that pushed Neil Patrick Harris into the limelight in 1989. He played a gifted teenager who was already a doctor after having finished medical school at the age of 14. He had a few film roles before this, however, most notably with Whoopi Goldberg in "Clara's Heart."
Now a Hollywood megastar, Brad Pitt began his career in the '80s with minor roles in a number of popular TV series, including "Dallas," "21 Jump Street," " Head Of The Class," and "Growing Pains." He came to the attention of moviegoers in 1991's "Thelma and Louise." And the rest, as they say, is history!
It was the TV sitcom, "Who's the Boss," starring Tony Danza, that first introduced us to Alyssa Milano and her character, Samantha Micelli. Milano also starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action blockbuster, "Commando." Although her career stalled slightly in the early '90s, she hit the TV jackpot again with the series, "Charmed," a story about three good witch sisters.
After playing a few minor roles in both "Jaws 3D" and "Red Dawn," Lea Thompson got the chance to play opposite Michael J. Fox in "Back To The Future" in 1984. Although the movie was a massive success, she next filmed "Howard the Duck," which bombed at the box office. In 1989, she was in "Back To The Future II, and in 1995, she was the lead in the sitcom, "Caroline In The City," which ran for five years.
Although he had had some acting roles earlier, including in the movie, "The Champ," it was the TV series, "Silver Spoons," that gave Ricky Schroder his big break. Schroder even appeared in the Michael Jackson video, 'Liberian Girl,' and towards the end of the '80s starred in a few episodes of "Lonesome Dove." Throughout the '90s, Schroder mostly acted in made-for-TV movies. He then landed a role in "NYPD Blue" for three seasons.
Emilio Estevez, the brother of Charlie Sheen and son of Martin Sheen, was part of the Hollywood Brat Pack in the 1980s. He starred in one of John Hughes' essential '80s teen movies, "The Breakfast Club," as well as "St. Elmo's Fire." At the end of the decade, he was cast with other young Hollywood actors in the western, "Young Guns."
Perhaps best known for his recurring role in "Grey's Anatomy," Patrick Dempsey's poster adorned many teenage girls' walls in the late '80s. Towards the end of that decade, Dempsey starred in a number of comedies, including "Can't Buy Me Love," "Lover Boy," "Some Girls," and "Happy Together." After 10 years on "Grey's Anatomy," he recently made a return to the silver screen in "Bridget Jones's Baby."
Perhaps more well known for his role as Alan Harper in the smash TV sitcom, "Two And A Half Men," Jon Cryer was a teen star in the '80s with his most notable role as Duckie in the Molly Ringwald movie, "Pretty In Pink." Cryer continued to play various TV and film roles throughout the '90s and into the 2000's, before joining the cast of one of TV's biggest sitcoms, "Two And A Half Men."
1986's "Stand By Me," the Hollywood adaption of a Stephen King novel, introduced a few fresh faces to audiences, including River Phoenix. Phoenix originally had his big break in 1982 in the TV series, "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers." A few roles followed, but Phoenix, along with Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O' Connell will forever be remembered for his role in "Stand By Me." He died of a drug overdose in 1993.
Elizabeth Shue's first major role was as the girlfriend of Ralph Macchio's "Karate Kid," in the movie of the same name in 1984. It was a massive success and Shue landed more roles during the decade, including in films such as "Adventures in Babysitting" and "Cocktail," opposite another '80s star, Tom Cruise. Shue originally began her acting career in commercials for the likes of Burger King and Hellman's mayo.
Anthony Michael Hall first shot to prominence starring as Rusty Griswold opposite Chevy Chase in "National Lampoon's Vacation" in 1983. This helped him land roles in three of the '80s most epic teen movies - "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club" and "Weird Science," all of which were directed by John Hughes. Hall turned down roles in two of Hughes' other '80s smash hits, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Pretty in Pink."
Jennifer Jason Leigh's big break came in 1982 when she was cast in the lead female role in the movie, "Fast Times At Ridgemont High." Leigh went on to star in many more movies in the '80s as well as in various TV shows. One of her first roles, the 1981 movie "The Best Little Girl In The World," required her to lose weight to play an anorexic teenager.
In the '80s, if you starred in a John Hughes movie, you were pretty much going to become a teen star. Ally Sheedy did, landing a role in perhaps the most iconic one, 1985's "The Breakfast Club." Sheedy, though, had already started to establish herself with roles in "Wargames" and "Oxford Blues." Her star shone brightly throughout the '80s with further roles in "St. Elmo's Fire," "Short Circuit," and "Maid to Order."
'No one puts Baby in the corner!' No one can forget 1987's "Dirty Dancing," the film that not only shot Patrick Swayze into stardom but did the same for Jennifer Grey. The pair has starred together in 1984's "Red Dawn." Grey also had a role in the John Hughes classic, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
Born in 1966, Mary Stuart Masterson was exposed to acting at an early age when, in 1975, she landed a role in "The Stepford Wives." A TV movie followed in 1980 and 1985, she starred in "Heaven Help Us." More teen roles followed, including "My Little Girl" and "Some Kind of Wonderful," which was written by John Hughes.
John Cusack's second movie was a part in "Sixteen Candles" with Molly Ringwald and Justin Henry. A host of other roles quickly followed, including a part in "Stand By Me" and a starring role in "One Crazy Summer" with Demi Moore, and "Hot Pursuit." Cusack has gone on to become one of Hollywood's more off-beat leading men.
Christina Applegate rose to stardom playing the role of Kelly Bundy in the TV series, "Married... with Children," which ran for 10 years and 263 episodes. She had plenty of screen time before this though, appearing in a number of productions, including "Charles in Charge," "Silver Spoons," and "Leave it to Beaver."
It was 1989's "Dead Poet's Society" that gave credibility and momentum to many careers, including those of River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke. Starring opposite Robin Williams, they played schoolboys mesmerized by their eccentric and inspiring English teacher, John Keating (played by Williams). Oh captain, my captain!
Both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim starred in the cult classic, "The Lost Boys" - one of many films that made them two of the most recognizable teen stars of the 80s.
Although she had appeared in a few roles, both on television and the silver screen, it was "Labyrinth" (1986) in which Jennifer Connelly first caught attention. Connelly only got the role after a talent search throughout the United States. She went on to appear in a Roy Orbison video later in the decade and even released a song of her own in Japan where she sang in Japanese!
Nicole Eggert starred in many TV series during the 1980s, including "TJ Hooker," "Who's the Boss," and "Charles in Charge," where she played Jamie Powell, perhaps her most notable role. In the '90s Eggert went on to a recurring role in "Baywatch," as well as parts in a range of made-for-TV movies and other B-grade films.
It was 1984's "Footloose" that thrust Kevin Bacon into the spotlight and saw his poster put up on teen girls' bedroom walls around the world. Bacon went on to star in a host of other movies in the '80s, including "White Water Summer" and "She's Having A Baby." His star further rose in the '90s with roles in "Flatliners," "JFK," "A Few Good Men," and "Apollo 13."
Thanks to starring in movies such as "Little Darlings," "My Bodyguard," "Tex," "The Outsiders," and "The Flamingo Kid" in the early 1980s, Matt Dillon quickly established himself as a teen star. Dillon is not only an actor, though. He made his directing debut in the TV series, "Oz," and followed that up with the movie, "City Of Ghosts."
It was the epic 80's adventure movie, "The Goonies," that gave Josh Brolin his first starring role on the silver screen. And with the skateboard craze of the '80s taking off, Brolin next starred in "Thrashin'." The rest of the '80s found Brolin securing made-for-TV movie roles, as well as a part in the TV series, "The Young Riders."
Demi Moore had starred in a few movies by the time she was cast in "St. Elmo's Fire" in 1985. It was this movie, however, that launched her and many of her co-stars'' careers. Her early career was not without trouble, however, and after turning up under the influence of drugs on a movie set on a number of occasions, was told she would be fired. Moore went on to star other essential '80s films, including "About Last Night" and "One Crazy Summer." She later met, married and later divorced Hollywood hard man, Bruce Willis.
By the time the '80s rolled along, Corey Feldman was an experienced child actor. His first role came as a 3-year-old in a McDonald's advert. Feldman hit the big time in the middle of the decade, starring in classics such as "Gremlins," "The Goonies," "The Lost Boys," and "License to Drive." Feldman became good friends with another '80s teen star, Corey Haim.
Amanda Peterson made her screen debut as a dancer in 1982's "Annie." A few roles followed in both TV and movies until in 1986, when she was cast alongside Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix in "Explorers." The following year, Peterson found herself opposite Patrick Dempsey in "Can't Buy Me Love," her first leading role. Her career continued into the mid-'90s at which point she gave up Hollywood. She died of an accidental drug overdose in 2015. She was just 43 years old.
Matthew Broderick is certainly one of the most recognizable teen faces of the 1980s. And he starred in a number of the decade's memorable movies, including the cult classic, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in 1986. His first real break came with "Wargames," however, a movie that saw him appear opposite another teen star, Ally Sheedy. Other Broderick movies during the decade include "LadyHawke," "Biloxi Blues," and "Glory."
With roles in "The Lost Boys" and "Stand by Me," Kiefer Sutherland was part of two cult classics in the 1980s. He quickly went on to more adult parts, appearing in "Bright Light Big City," "Young Guns," and "Flatliners." Sutherland's career continued through the next three decades, including a role in the series, "24," from 2001 to 2010 where he played Jack Bauer.
Val Kilmer had a number of impressive movie roles in the 1980s. From "Top Secret," to "Top Gun" and "Willow," Kilmer proved himself a very versatile actor. It was his role as Madmardigan in "Willow," however, that really thrust him into the limelight, eventually leading to the part of Batman in 1995's "Batman Forever."
"Taps," "Risky Business," "Top Gun," "Cocktail," "The Color of Money" - Tom Cruise certainly starred in a host of Hollywood blockbusters in the '80s. But it all could have been so different as a young Cruise never wanted to be an actor, but actually wanted to become a priest. And aren't we glad he had a change of heart!
Diane Lane sprung to stardom as a 13-year-old, starring in 1979's "Little Romance." In the next two years, she starred in another five movies, some successful, others not. It was "Rumblefish" and "The Outsiders" in 1983, both of which were directed by Francis Ford Coppola, that became cult classics and exposed her to even more fans. After turning down the chance to play Darryl Hannah's role in "Splash," Lane was cast next to Richard Gere in "The Cotton Club," although it was a bit of a flop. That didn't stop her from landing roles throughout the '80s and she remains a top draw in Hollywood to this day.
By the time the '80s rolled along, a 15-year-old Brooke Shields had starred in over 10 movies. It was "The Blue Lagoon" at the start of the decade that pushed her name onto the lips of moviegoers around the world. The film told the story of two teenagers left alone on a deserted island. At the time, it was fairly controversial. Shields was only given the role after Jennifer Jason Leigh and Diane Lane had passed on it.