The Pretty in Pink reunion you weren’t expecting on The Blacklist

First, an introduction for younger readers. This is the group of actor/singers known as the Rat Pack. They were big in the 60s. You weren’t alive then. Neither was I.

The Rat Pack

I don’t quite know why I’m mentioning them since they’re irrelevant to this piece. However, this is the far more relevant Brat Pack. They were big in the 80s. You might have been alive then. I definitely was.

The Brat Pack

To be exact, that’s not quite the Brat Pack, so much as the cast of St Elmo’s Fire, most of whom were in the Brat Pack – look closely and you’ll spot Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy and Demi Moore (as well as the lesser known Judd Nelson and even lesser known Mare Winningham).

However, the Brat Pack was made up of a group of young actors and actresses who dated each other and/or frequently appeared together in movies (eg The Breakfast Club, Oxford Blues, Sixteen Candles) and their numbers also included the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Downey Jr, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and James Spader.

One of the most notable and iconic Brat Pack movies was Pretty In Pink, which starred Ringwald, McCarthy and Spader, as well as Jon Cryer who would go on to star in Two And A Half Men with the somewhat infamous Brat Pack member Charlie Sheen. Here’s a trailer to explain the basic plot, which involves Ringwald picking the right boy – and the right dress – for her prom: should it be good guy Andrew McCarthy, bad guy James Spader or unnoticed best friend Cryer?

Here are Spader and McCarthy being interviewed about the movie at the time. My, how young they look, don’t they?

But as we’ve seen, careers can go in odd directions. I really don’t need to tell you what Robert Downey Jr has been up to since, while Rob Lowe – who was the baddest of the bad in the Brat Pack – has also gone on to numerous decent roles in things like The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, and Kiefer Sutherland became the TV star of the 2000s as Jack Bauer in 24 and Demi Moore became an action movie star. Others have branched off into different parts of the industry – Emilio Estevez won a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for his biopic of Robert Kennedy, Bobby, which he wrote and directed.

Spader, by contrast, has gone through a slow process of ‘Shatnerisation’, slowly going from the acclaimed movie performances of Sex, Lies and Videotape and Crash down into a hammy TV hell of his own making, perhaps in part caused by his proximity to the Shat himself in Boston Legal.

Meanwhile, Andrew McCarthy after sticking around in acting doing the serious likes of John Frankenheimer’s Year of the Gun with Sharon Stone…

…ended up mainly behind the camera, the difference being that he’s stuck to directing TV, on shows such as Gossip Girl, Alpha House, Orange is the New Black, The Carrie Diaries, and Lipstick Jungle.

Oh, and The Blacklist, which stars James Spader, and for which McCarthy has directed three episodes this season.

“They’re both great artists who have had such a wonderful working relationship in the past, it just seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up,” series executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath said [via].

Look, here they are together behind the scenes. My, don’t they look not quite so young? But then, don’t we all?

James Spadaer and Andrew McCarthy behind the scenes of The Blacklist


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.