This is Why Brat Pack Member Ally Sheedy Left Hollywood

This article was originally published on our sister site Nostalgic Reads

Ally Sheedy is infamously regarded as a rare mix of high octane and low profile. She made her film debut in Bad Boys (1983) and became known as one of the Brat Pack members in the films The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire (both in 1985).

Ally Sheedy / Ally Sheedy / Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald / Ally Sheedy, Beckett.
Source: Getty Images

Her role in High Art (1998) earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. Since then, she has made headlines for calling out Golden Globe winner James Franco. Find out who Ally Sheedy truly is behind the scenes, what the “Brat Pack” really means, and other interesting bits about her.

Ally Sheedy’s Humble Beginnings

Ally Sheedy was born Alexandra Elizabeth Sheedy on June 13, 1962, in New York City to mother Charlotte, and father, John J. Sheedy Jr. She has two siblings: a brother, Patrick Sheedy, who also works in the entertainment industry as a film producer; and her sister, Meghan Sheedy.

A portrait of Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Ally received her early education at the Bank Street School for Children. After that, she went on to Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School in New York City, where she graduated in 1980. Sheedy began performing in local theater performances when she was a teenager.

Hardworking Parents, but Not the Happiest Marriage

Her mother, Charlotte, is a writer and press agent who has been active in women’s and civil rights groups. Her father, John, is a senior advertising executive in New York City’s advertising industry. Sheedy’s mother is of Eastern European Jewish descent.

A portrait of Ally Sheedy in her teens.
Source: YouTube

Her father is Irish Catholic. Her maternal grandmother was originally from Odesa, Ukraine. Although both her parents were hardworking and tried to give her the best, Ally’s parents got divorced in 1971, when she was nine years. But by then, she already had a dream of performing.

She Always Knew What She Wanted to Do

Ally began dancing with the American Ballet Theater at age six with the intention of making it a full-time career. She eventually left dancing in favor of acting and began studying with Harold Guskin. At 12, she published a book titled “She Was Nice to Mice.”

A still of Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club.”
Source: YouTube

The book became a best-seller. She also appeared on the game show, To Tell the Truth, in 1975. At 18, she moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at the University of Southern California. She began her acting career concurrently and took three years of classes toward a BFA in acting.

A Busy Decade for Ally

Ally started acting on stage as a teenager in local productions. After appearing in several TV films in 1981 and three episodes of the TV show Hill Street Blues, she made her feature film debut in Bad Boys (1983), which starred Sean Penn. She played Penn’s humiliated girlfriend.

Ally Sheedy and Sean Penn are in a promotional movie shot.
Source: Copyright: Universal Pictures

The 1980s were Ally’s most active period in her career. It was the time when she became known as a member of the Brat Pack. The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Maid to Order, and War Games were some of the movies that she starred in during this period.

What Exactly Is the Brat Pack?

In 1985, the New York magazine published a cover that would go on to become iconic. But when the cover was released by the magazine, it seemed innocent with no ill will. However, Hollywood’s “Brat Pack” would go on to become classic and timeless. The group’s name stuck.

The cast of St. Elmo’s Fire in a promotional photo.
Source: Copyright: Columbia Pictures

The Brat Pack, a group of young actors who swept through Hollywood during that period, were more than just movie stars. According to The Guardian, the group “spoke for a generation,” and several of the Brat Pack’s members have gone on to have distinguished careers.

What Other Actors Were Part of the Brat Pack?

There is substantial debate about which actors from the 1980s were members of the Brat Pack. The Breakfast Club and Saint Elmo’s Fire stars were certainly a part. This includes Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, and Judd Nelson.

A dated picture of Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, and Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

And yes, Ally Sheedy too, of course. Some film buffs also add distinguished actors like Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr., Matthew Broderick, and John Cusack to the list. They all starred in 1980s classics, but none of them were in the Brat Pack films.

No Debate About Ally Sheedy’s Membership

Despite the fact that it is not always clear which actors and actresses were members of the Brat Pack and which weren’t, there is no doubt that Ally Sheedy was one of them. She co-starred in the film The Breakfast Club with Molly Ringwald.

A portrait of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson.
Source: Pinterest

Her performance in the Breakfast Club cemented her place in history as a Brat Pack original, but it was far from her last starring role, at least on television. Sheedy also had roles in War Games and Short Circuit, both of which were considered classics of the 1980s.

A Decade in the Spotlight

Ally’s star started rising rapidly. In 1983, she co-starred with Sean Penn, a legend in the movie industry. Sheedy’s first film role was in Bad Boys. St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club, both of which were released two years later, were tacked at the end of her résumé.

Ally Sheedy attends an event.
Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage/Getty Images

In spite of this, Ally’s films were becoming less and less successful by the end of the decade. It appeared as if the end was coming for her career. When Betsy’s Wedding was released in 1990, it signaled the beginning of the end for her film and television career.

Ally Dealt With Mental Health Issues

According to Eighties Kids, Ally struggled with mental health problems during her prime. She refused to portray the bubbly, stereotyped girl that Hollywood wanted her to play after her rehab. She’d had it with changing herself, sacrificing her beliefs, and taking undemanding roles in huge blockbusters.

A studio portrait of Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Donald Maclellan/Getty Images

The money didn’t change her mind. “It wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t going to do any of those things. I’d done enough ‘nice’ and ‘cute’ and ‘girl next door’. It was all so superficial, bubbly, and bland and I didn’t want to do it anymore. At any price.”

Not Box-Office Level Anymore

Ally hasn’t stopped acting. However, she mostly appears in low-budget indie films that have more robust roles and the characters can be a little bit more complex. As you would expect, she also doesn’t make as much money as she would have in Hollywood, but she is unbothered.

A still of Ally Sheedy as a serial killer in “Psych.”
Source: YouTube

According to her, “I may be poor, but I’m happy.” Since the start of the #Metoo campaign, Ally has been outspoken about her experiences in Hollywood. The toxic treatment of women is one of the main reasons she quit the studio movie business. She was certainly a visionary.

Ally Didn’t Like James Franco’s Golden Globe Award

As Hollywood’s stars gathered at the 75th Golden Globe Awards after a recent wave of sexual assault allegations, many of those watching closely from home took to social media to call out the men in the room who had made questionable headlines over the years.

A picture of James Franco at a Golden Globe Awards after-party.
Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

They proudly stood in solidarity with Hollywood’s women on Globes night. As actor James Franco walked the stage dressed all in black and sporting a Time’s Up pin to accept his award for best lead actor in a comedy for The Disaster Artist, actress Ally Sheedy weighed in from home.

James Franco’s Shady Past

In 2014, Ally and Franco worked on the play The Long Shrift, Franco’s off-Broadway directorial debut. She hugged Franco in front of a reporter during a New York Times profile and dubbed him “a beautiful, generous man.” During his triumph, Ally wasn’t the only one who alluded to Franco’s past.

James Franco and Ally Sheedy pose for the press.
Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images

2014 reports about Franco’s shady Instagram exchange with a teen began circulating on social media, and shortly after the story broke, Franco came on Live with Kelly and Michael to admit to having had a flirtatious exchange with a girl who was 17 at the time.

Franco Defends His Actions

The exchange between the 17-year-old girl and James Franco raised a lot of eyebrows. Franco did have a lot to say in his defense when he went on Live with Kelly and Michael. Despite admitting, he had the following to say: “I guess I’m, you know, embarrassed…

James Franco visits “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images

“And I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky.” He labeled his actions as “bad judgment.” Franco concluded: “In my position, not only do I have to go through the embarrassing rituals of meeting someone, but sometimes it gets published for the world.”

Ally Called Franco Out on Twitter

While he has admitted to not making the best judgment by interacting with the underaged girl, Franco still came under fire from his former colleague. After he was awarded a Golden Globe, Ally called him out on it while suggesting that sexually inappropriate behavior was why she left Hollywood.

A picture of Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Despite the fact that Ally hasn’t revealed exactly what transpired between her and Franco while he was directing her in the off-Broadway play, The Long Shrift, she has come a long way from her days as a member of the iconic Brat Pack.

Ally Took Down Her Tweets Shortly After

After Franco received his award during the Globes, Sheedy tweeted: “James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the film/tv business.” She also said: “Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much. Nite love ya #goldenglobes.”

A picture of James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Sheedy later deleted her tweets. “Are you not curious as to why she would do that if you had, from your perspective, a good relationship with her?” Meyers asked. “Yes, I had a great — I had a great relationship with her,” Franco responded. “She took the tweet down. I don’t know. I really don’t.”

Sheedy’s Rocky Love Life

In the 1980s, Ally dated Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora for less than a year. She claimed in the Los Angeles Times that her relationship with Sambora led to her abusing drugs – a statement which Sambora refuted. Ally was admitted to Hazelden Foundation in 1985.

A backstage photo of Ally and Richie Sambora.
Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In the 1990s, she was treated for a sleeping pill addiction, an experience she leaned on for her character in High Art as a drug-addicted photographer. In 1992, she married David Lansbury, a well-known actor. Beckett, their son, was born in 1994, but Ally announced her divorce to Lansbury in 2008.

Ally Had a Remarkable Mother Growing Up

Remember we mentioned earlier that Ally Sheedy’s mother Charlotte was an activist? A remarkable activist according to Ally. “(In) the late ‘60s . . . she began doing strange things–getting arrested for lying down in the street in Washington, D.C., to protest the war . . .” She wrote in an article about her mother.

A photo of Ally Sheedy attending an event.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Using our kitchen to cook up perfume that her women’s liberation group sold on campuses to fund itself . . . showing up at the Paris Opera in overalls and hiking boots . . . tearing up and down Broadway on her bicycle. . ..” Sheedy continued. “I was, to say the least, confused.”

A Difficult Road to Stardom

Sheedy’s career journey, which culminated in the release of “High Art,” has been a long and winding one. She grew up on the Upper West Side of New York, the eldest of three siblings, and spent her childhood there. Both of her parents (divorced in 1971) rose from humble beginnings.

A still of Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club.”
Source: YouTube

Her father had worked his way up to become a top-rated marketing executive and later on a consultant while her mother, on the other hand, also worked hard to become a well-known literary agent and activist. She was a star in the 1980s. And it wasn’t easy getting there.

Her Brilliant Performance in “High Art”

Ally portrays Lucy Berliner, a lesbian photographer who is addicted to heroin, in the film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and opened in Washington. The film won the prestigious Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998.

A still of Ally in a scene from “High Art.”
Source: Copyright: October Films

Throughout the film, Ally is a revelation, serving as a fiery center of gravity, and the reviews for her performance were overwhelmingly positive. Apart from the fact that the film marked her comeback, the sheer nature of the role she played elicited sensational conjecture.

She Felt Connected to Lucy

Lucy is a far cry from the innocent, milk-and-cookies image that Ally had to portray for more than a decade. She is a blazing, iconoclastic figure. When she auditioned for the role of Lucy, she had no intention of altering her image in the process.

A closeup on Ally in a still from the film.
Source: YouTube

She claimed was able to recognize the character on the page. “I thought, ‘This part is so close to me… Lucy is only centimeters away from me. Her whole emotional life, the way she thinks about things, the choices she has made — everything made sense to me.”

The Realness of Lucy

Ally could easily have been discussing her own insecurities about her former renown when she described her character’s anxieties to the Washington Post. “There’s a rawness about Lucy. She has no — what do you call it — facade,” she said as her voice started to waver.

A still of Ally during an interview.
Source: Vimeo

“And if you are someone who is like that, you will be taken to task for it.” Not only does she adore the character of Lucy, one of her closest friends and fellow actress Rebecca De Mornay has dubbed her an honest person. “Ally is startlingly honest,” she said.

Blum Named Them Brat Pack

On June 10, 1985, David Blum’s New York piece “Hollywood’s Brat Pack” was published. It was meant to be all about Emilio Estevez, but one night at the Hard Rock Cafe, Estevez invited Blum to hang out with him, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, and others.

A newspaper clipping titled “Hollywood’s Brat Pack.”
Source: Pinterest

They had become close while filming St. Elmo’s Fire, so it was a routine night out. It was that night Blum chose to change the focus of the essay to a group of young actors. The St. Elmo’s Fire crew disliked Blum, believing he was envious of the stars’ successes.

The Brat Pack Stars Were the Cool Kids

For those who grew up in the early 80s, you’d remember that the Brat Pack were the cool kids of that era. All of the hottest teen or coming-of-age films featured A-list young actors. The members were distinguished by two main films: The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire.

A dated photo of Demi Moore and Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Terry McGinnis/WireImage/Getty Images

The stars in those films earned their place in this exclusive club of cool kids, and the ensemble went on to star in a number of subsequent films together. Some of these celebrities are still well-known today, while others have retired or left Hollywood, such as Ally.

The Brat Pack’s Core Members

Despite the fact that the Brat Pack was never a formal organization, they were referred to as such by the media because of how frequently they tended to work together, and in some cases, how they associated with one another on a more informal basis.

A promotional portrait of the cast from “St. Elmo's Fire.”
Source: Copyright: Columbia Pictures

However, while the major casts of The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire serve as the Brat Pack group’s core members, there were a number of other 1980s movie stars that hung out on the fringes of the group for a long period of time.

Other Members of the Brat Pack

When talking about the Brat Pack, James Spader and Robert Downey Jr. are two actors who are often mentioned. They both worked with a lot of the other actors in the group and they both starred with Andrew McCarthy in the 1987 crime drama, Less Than Zero.

A photo of Robert Downey Jr. / A portrait of James Spader.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Robert Downey Jr worked with Anthony Michael Hall in John Hughes’ Weird Science. Many believe that the only reason Charlie Sheen is sometimes thought of as a member of the Brat Pack is that he is Emilio Estevez’s brother and a well-known Hollywood bad boy.

Blum Admitted He Shouldn’t Have Done It

They were regarded as talented individuals before the publication; then they were all lumped together and labeled unprofessional. Blum admitted he shouldn’t have published it when interviewed for Susannah Gora’s 2010 book “You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation.”

A picture of Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Judd Nelson.
Source: Pinterest

The actors eventually stopped interacting with one another due to the heightened negative attention they were receiving. “[The article] just destroyed it. I had felt truly a part of something, and that guy just blew it to pieces,” Ally later said of the group’s closeness.

What Happened to the Rest of the Brat Pack?

Several members of the Brat Pack had problems with drugs, alcohol, and, in Lowe’s case, a sex tape, which hampered their careers. Susannah Gora claims that, “Many believe they could have gone on to more serious roles if not for that article. They were talented.”

A portrait of Rob Lowe during an interview.
Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

“But they had professional difficulties, personal difficulties after that.” However, the term Brat Pack lost its negative meaning by the 21st century. The films reflect “the socially apathetic, cynical, money-possessed, and ideologically barren eighties generation.” They adopted adolescent archetypes, typically set in the Chicago suburbs, and concentrated on white, middle-class adolescent angst.

The Best High School Movie Ever

In 2012, Entertainment Weekly rated The Breakfast Club as the best high school film ever. Molly Ringwald was named No. 1, Rob Lowe, No. 2, Anthony Michael Hall, No. 4, Ally Sheedy was ranked No. 34, and Andrew McCarthy, No. 40 in VH1’s list of the 100 best teen stars.

Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall are in a scene from the film. / Copyright: Universal Pictures

Estevez expressed his dissatisfaction with the “Brat Pack” label in 2020. “That [term] will be on my tombstone … It’s annoying because Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Matt Damon have worked together more than any of us have. We just made two movies and somehow it morphed into something else.”

Ally Sheedy’s Trans Son

Ally got married to Lansbury on April 12, 1992. David is the son of Edgar Lansbury, a British theatrical producer, as well as the nephew of actress, Angela Lansbury. Their child was born a female in 1994 but now identifies as a man.

Ally poses with her son at his graduation.
Source: Pinterest

Due to this, Ally has become a strong supporter of the transgender community. In June 2020, Ally and her son, Beckett, appeared on an episode of the podcast We Are Family. Ally discussed the journey so far and how she educated herself to be able to support her son.

She Was Scared When Her Son Came Out

Ally has claimed she was scared and unsure when Beckett came out. In the podcast, she said:

“I just was scared because I just didn’t have enough information. I didn’t know that he had a place to go where they actually knew what they were doing.”

A picture of Ally and Beckett before he came out.
Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images

“Once I started to get that there was this center and they did know what they were doing, and Beck knew what he was doing, and it was OK to ask questions, it was OK to be scared. Beck got really good at bringing me along and giving me the information.”

The Breakfast Club by John Hughes

The Breakfast Club, written, produced, and directed by John Hughes is a 1985-American teen coming-of-age drama. It stars Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Anthony Michael Hall as teenagers from different high school cliques. They spend one Saturday in detention under an authoritarian assistant principal.

Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald are in a scene from “The Breakfast Club.”
Photo by Universal Pictures/Getty Images

The film premiered on February 7, 1985, in Los Angeles. Despite having a $1 million budget, it grossed over $51.5 million. It is a critically acclaimed movie that has been labeled one of the best high school movies in history and one of John Hughes’s finest works.

Happy Birthday, Breakfast Club

The Library of Congress designated the film, The Breakfast Club, for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 2016 as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” A year before that, in 2015, the movie was digitally remastered and re-released in 430 theaters to commemorate its 30th anniversary.

 still of Anthony Michael Hall in “The Breakfast Club.”
Source: Copyright: Universal Studios

The film’s central theme is the American adolescent’s persistent quest to be understood, both by adults and by themselves. It delves into the pressures placed on teens to conform to high school social conventions, as well as the unrealistic expectations of their parents, teachers, and other authorities in society.

St. Elmo’s Fire

St. Elmo’s Fire is a 1985 American coming-of-age film co-written and directed by Joel Schumacher. It stars Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Andie MacDowell, and Mare Winningham, who is the only one not regarded as a Brat Pack member.

A promotional shot for the film.
Source: Copyright: Columbia Pictures

It follows a group of recent Georgetown University graduates as they adjust to post-university life and the responsibilities of adulthood. Although it received mixed reviews from critics, it was a box office hit, earning $37.8 million on a budget of $10 million.

Sheedy Doesn’t Want a Remake of The Breakfast Club

With many remakes, reboots, and sequels of the 1980s and 1990s films – Valley Girl, Bill & Ted, and Ghostbusters – Ally asserts that a new Breakfast Club will never work. “There’s no way there could be a remake because John Hughes just didn’t want that to happen so there isn’t,” she said.

A portrait of Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images

“It would be a completely different film, there’s no way to remake it today. I really don’t think so.” The times have changed, as have the difficulties confronting youngsters today in comparison to the 1985 film’s students. We totally agree with you on that, Ally.

Ally Sheedy Still Acts and Keeps in Touch With Molly

True, she earns less money than she would in Hollywood, but she is content with that. Although there is no WhatsApp group chat for the cast of John Hughes’ masterpiece, Ally told Digital Spy that she is “still in regular touch with Molly.”

A picture of Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

“What we have is a shared experience which is very specific and unique, it’s a comfortable sort of closeness there,” she said.