‘Brats’ Director Andrew McCarthy: ‘We Were Kryptonite to Each Other’ After Being Dubbed the ‘Brat Pack’

In June 1985, New York writer David Blum labeled the batch of young new stars of “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The Breakfast Club” as “The Brat Pack”; Andrew McCarthy’s first thought on hearing the term was “Oh, f–k!”

“At the time, it was a very stigmatizing label,” McCarthy told TheWrap in a phone interview to discuss “Brats.” His Hulu documentary looks back at the ’80s stars who earned that label, including Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe.

“One of the ironies of the Brat Pack is the minute we were labeled, people stopped doing those ensemble films. As Emilio said [in the movie], we were kryptonite to each other in a certain way. I never thought of it the way he said it, but I thought that was quite accurate,” said the actor, who went on to focus on directing and travel writing.

St. Elmo's Fire
Cast of ‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ 1985. Left to right: Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy, Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Mare Winningham, Judd Nelson and Andrew McCarthy. (CREDIT: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Many of the key players agreed to rehash their shared past on camera for McCarthy — but a few, including Judd Nelson, declined to participate.

“Any people that are or aren’t in the film, I think that speaks to the proof of concept. People had different reactions to it, and they still do,” the filmmaker explained. “One of the first things I thought going into this was, ‘I hope at least one person doesn’t want to do this because it’ll speak to how complicated it still is.”

He further noted how his attitude towards the phrase has changed over the years and whether the pack plans to stay in touch after reconnecting.

TheWrap: Was it cathartic to get back in touch with everybody else who was labeled a Brat Packer?

Andrew McCarthy: I felt liberated, which is slightly different. But I achieved what I wanted to. I wasn’t interested in a nostalgia romp, but I’m always very interested in how we reassess and make sense of our lives and how that changes over time. It was liberating in the sense that it brought the past to the present in a way that was rewarding.

How have your feelings about being part of the Brat Pack changed?

At the time, there was a seismic change happening in Hollywood. Young movies took over almost overnight, and we were at the forefront of that.

So there was a segment of the old guard that went, “Who the hell are these punks?”And then David Blum comes up with this really zippy phrase and they go, “Oh, exactly. They’re brats.” It was always a very stigmatizing thing.

Whereas the public was smarter than all of us and thought, “No, we love these guys.” That’s what I didn’t see for so long. They just wanted to grab this satchel of youth movies and run with it.

We were responding to what we felt was the industry reaction, whereas the public was responding to their own emotional needs, which are, “I see these people in these movies and I identify with them.” And we love that, that they saw themselves in us.

You meet with David Blum in the film and at one point he refers to the Brat Pack as “collateral damage” of his article.

My overriding feeling for David was affection, which was quite shocking. In the film, I say, “You’re someone who I felt did me such harm. And I look at you now with affection.”

David forgot about us very quickly, probably didn’t think about us for a second when he was writing that. He just knew, “I’ve got a great lede and this is a really good spin.” And it was right at the time of that classic ’80s snarky journalism, so was he thinking about the effect it would have?

I think he says, “No, it didn’t actually occur to me.” Once he had it, we stopped being people, we were just useful for the article. And that’s what we can all be guilty of doing.

Jon Cryer was in “Pretty in Pink,” but he says he’s not part of the Brat Pack.

You ask 10 people [and they will all say something different]. That’s why we have that moment in the middle of the movie, like, “Who’s actually in the Brat Pack?” And none of us know. It was always more of an idea.

It very much exists because we are still talking about it, but it wasn’t a literal kind of thing. It existed as an idea and a concept, so I don’t think it matters who’s in it or not. I wasn’t even in the article that David Blum wrote. I wasn’t in the Brat Pack, according to him. [But people tell me], of course you’re at the center of the Brat Pack at this point.

The truth is that I was an iconic member of the Brat Pack. The truth of 1985 is, no, I was excluded. So, which is right? They’re both right.

It reminds me of Christopher Plummer, who hated “The Sound of Music” and the song “Edelweiss” for many years, and then he finally embraced it and was like, “OK, it’s part of who I am.

Absolutely. People come up to me on a daily basis and say, “Oh, my God, those movies you made [mean so much to me].” And I know they’re really talking about themselves and their own youth and that wondrous moment the Brat Pack represents to a generation of people. If that’s not a beautiful thing, I don’t know what is.

Do you think you will stay in touch with Demi and Rob and the other people you reconnected with?

Well, I’m seeing Demi tonight, actually, and I was just texting with Rob yesterday. So we have so far. It’s really nice.

Is there a Brat Pack group text?

No, but we should get one going. That’s a good idea. I don’t actually know how to group chat. Somebody else would have to start it.

I feel like Rob would know how to do that.

I’m going to tell him he has to start the group chat.

“Brats” is now streaming on Hulu

The post ‘Brats’ Director Andrew McCarthy: ‘We Were Kryptonite to Each Other’ After Being Dubbed the ‘Brat Pack’ appeared first on TheWrap.