Andrew McCarthy says the “Brat Pack” stigma gave him PTSD

Andrew McCarthy says the “Brat Pack” stigma gave him PTSD

For nearly 40 years, actor and writer Andrew McCarthy has suffered from what he calls post-traumatic stress disorder — but it doesn’t involve the usual Hollywood ills like drug abuse, stays in rehab, or messy divorces.

His shock stems from an infamous New York magazine cover story from 1985, about a group of famous young actors (including Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez and others), which was headlined: “Hollywood Naughty Pack“.

Reading it today, David Bloom’s essay about hanging out with a group of movie stars with the world — and many women — at their feet as they frequent Hollywood clubs and sow their wild oats seems both fun and tame.

Actor Andrew McCarthy, now 61, wrote, directed and stars in the new Hulu documentary “BRATS” about the stigma he says he and other actors faced after a 1985 New York magazine cover story titled “Hollywood’s Brat Pack.” Holo

But for McCarthy, now 61, the “Brat Pack” label alienated and belittled the actors, who were part of a talented new generation of young stars who lit up the box office with films like “St. Elmo’s Fire” — which is considered the Notable for Brat Pack – “The Breakfast Club”, “Taps”, “The Outsiders”, “Pretty in Pink”, “About Last Night”, “Sixteen Candles” and others.

“Oh wow,” was McCarthy’s first reaction upon seeing the cover story, he revealed in “Sausages,” a new documentary he wrote, directed and starred in.

The cast of “St. Elmo’s Fire” (from left: Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Marie Winningham and Andrew McCarthy) formed a “brat group.” © Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I thought that was terrible right away. It turned out I was right. The article was scathing about all these young actors. And since that was a smart, clever statement, it immediately captured the zeitgeist and burned deeply, and that was that. Since Back then, my career and the careers of everyone involved in the “Brat Pack” were sorted.

“BRATS,” which premiered at the Tribeca Festival this weekend and begins streaming on Hulu Thursday, is McCarthy’s rather dizzying journey into what was, for him, the heart of darkness of that bygone era immortalized by Bloom’s catchphrase.

“We’ve been typecast as partying, wanting to have a good time, wanting to be famous,” he says in the film.

McCarthy has had a respectable career as an actor, director, and author, but he never enjoyed the same success as other stars of the mid-1980s such as Demi Moore, Tom Cruise, or Rob Lowe. AFP via Getty Images
McCarthy with Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink.” © Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

“I’d never talked to anyone about what it was. It was definitely the highlight of my life. And I imagined it was in their hands too. So I thought it might be interesting to try to contact everyone who was in the Brat Pack or who might be related With it.

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Officially identifying a member remains a parlor game to this day.

Estevez, Lowe, McCarthy and Nelson, along with Anthony Michael Hall, Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy, are often cited as prominent members of the Brat Pack – with Tom Cruise, Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton sometimes included in the group.

Adjacent members of the Brat Pack include Jon Cryer, James Spade, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Bacon, Matthew Broderick, Lea Thompson, and Mary Winningham.

McCarthy interviewed Rob Lowe for the documentary “Brats” and agreed that the New York Magazine article did not highlight the young actors. Miscellaneous via Getty Images
Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise and Emilio Estevez hanging out in 1982. Getty Images

Bloom’s story was originally supposed to profile Emilio Estevez, now 62 years old.

But when Estevez, who is Charlie Sheen’s older brother, invited Bloom to spend a night at the Hard Rock Café with his pals and co-stars including Lowe and Nelson, Bloom realized there was a bigger piece showing life inside their hot, privileged bubble.

“The Brat Pack of the 1980s was what the Rat Pack was of the 1960s—a touring band of popular young stars who went around partying, women, and having a good time,” Bloom wrote in a 1985 article.

“And like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis Jr., these guys work together, too — they’ve taken their friendships from life to movies. They make big movies with big directors and get big contracts and limousines. They have big agents and PR people.” They have legions of fans who write them letters, buy them drinks, follow them home and most importantly sell them cinema tickets.”

Emilio Estevez (from left), Demi Moore and Ally Sheedy, seen here sometime around 1985. WireImage
Estevez and Moore, shown here in 1985, were briefly engaged. Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

McCarthy was mentioned only once in Bloom’s article, in a disparaging comment by one of McCarthy’s unnamed “St. Elmo’s Fire” co-stars.

“He plays all his roles with the same intensity. “I don’t think he’ll make it,” an anonymous colleague said of McCarthy.

Bloom, who in the past has expressed some regret about the article, did not return a call from The Post.

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He appears briefly in the doc with McCarthy, People writeand the two converge as Bloom explains that the infamous headline was meant to be clever, not cruel.

Judd Nelson, 64, was a key member of the Brat Pack, but has maintained a lower profile than some of his co-stars over the years. Getty Images
Nelson is best known for playing John Bender in The Breakfast Club. © Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Fortunately for McCarthy, many of his stars and famous former peers of the era, including Estevez, Lowe, Sheedy, Houghton, Cryer and Moore, agreed to be interviewed in “BRATS.”

In it, McCarthy says he hasn’t seen most of them in 35 years.

To some extent, that faceless fellow was right.

McCarthy did not achieve the same success as some of the members of the group he started with, such as Moore, Cruise, and Lowe, but he worked steadily as an actor and director and had Critically praised Career as an author and travel writer.

He is married to his second wife, the Irish writer and actress Dolores Rice, and has three children, one of whom is Sam McCarthy, 22, an actor.

Ally Sheedy, now 61, sympathizes with McCarthy in the “Brats” doc about how the “Brat Pack” label diminished them all. Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images

In the film, McCarthy is seen driving everywhere from Estevez’s house in Malibu to somewhere in the woods of upstate New York to check on Houghton.

A particularly sweet Ally Sheedy talks to McCarthy in her living room.

None of the actors seem to be affected by the Brat Pack label like McCarthy, but they all play it spunky and think through their own issues with it.

One of the continuing themes of the documentary is McCarthy’s repeated admissions of what appears to be low self-esteem.

In the film, he sometimes refers to himself as “ashamed” and often feels as if he is being “stabbed in the back” for no reason.

“I always felt like an insider at some club, and I always felt like an outsider,” McCarthy says as he drives to Estevez’s house. “I lived in New York, everyone else lived here, and Emilio seemed to know better than anyone what the deal was.”

“The Breakfast Club” cast: Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall.
Ringwald and Chidi appeared in the 2023 sitcom “Shiva.” Freeform via Getty Images

Estevez, like Sheedy, and to some extent Lowe and others, agreed that he did not like the article and felt betrayed.

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“I did some journalism but nothing to the point of a real profile, and that made me think I was naive to think that this journalist would actually be my friend,” Estevez tells McCarthy in the film. “The most upsetting part about it was that I actually saw a different path for myself and I felt off track.”

McCarthy visits Moore, barefoot and wearing blue jeans, at her home and is sympathetic to his belief that the Brat Pack brand was a disgrace.

But then she tends to McCarthy as if she were his therapist and gives him a little reality check.

“Why did we consider it a crime? Why did we consider it a bad thing?” asks Moore, who… Own real life traumas They include a neglectful, alcoholic mother, a father who committed suicide, and was raped as a teenager.

Demi Moore with Rob Lowe, now 60, at the Tom Ford fashion show in Hollywood in 2020. Getty Images
Moore was the toast of the Cannes Film Festival in May. Movie Magic

Moore was once engaged to Estevez and admits she was of a sober mindset on the set of “St. Elmo’s Fire” successfully struggling to stay sober.

“I was angry and felt like this was a really limited perspective,” Moore says in the film about reading the article for the first time. “But I don’t know if I took it personally over time, maybe like you did. Yes he came out and tried to belittle us, but it was also an opportunity to move past him and say no, I’m so much more than that.”

Moore suggests to McCarthy that the Brat Pack article was a form of what she calls “hostility,” adding that McCarthy continuing to view it as a negative and seeing people against it will only perpetuate the problem.

“Hostility only breeds hostility,” Moore said. “Then you’re ready to recreate it until you get to a point where you don’t want to do it anymore.”

Molly Ringwald, who appears in clips from her films, declined to participate but seemed to adhere to Moore’s philosophy.

“Molly said she would think about it,” McCarthy told Jon Cryer when they met and Cryer asked him if he had spoken to his “Pretty In Pink” co-star, “but she might just want to keep looking forward.”

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