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Top 5: Our favorite roles and moments in 'The Breakfast Club'

The movie, of course, was The Breakfast Club, written and directed by the late John Hughes, a former ad writer and National Lampoon editor who was just beginning to make waves in Hollywood.

Fresh off the modest success of his directorial debut with Sixteen Candles, Hughes still hadn't fully earned the trust of the studio executives when he pitched the idea of a movie about five very different teenagers thrown together for day of detention.

"Now we know what a great success both commercially and culturally it is, but at the time, you can imagine The Breakfast Club would be a bit of a hard sell. It's five kids sitting in a room — talking," says Susannah Gora, a film journalist who has just released a book about '80s movies called You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes and Their Impact on a Generation. "Some executives said at the time that it almost felt like group therapy for teenagers."

Indeed, it seems that 97 minutes of couch time was what a lot of teens were looking for. Though not a smash hit at the box office, the film took on its revered status after its release on video and TV, ensuring that future generations of mixed-up kids had a reliable "user's manual" of sorts to adolescent angst.

For this week's Top 5 list, we honor the five most important roles in '80s film history. Gora's book (read more at provides most of our meatiest trivia scoops.

1. Molly ringwald

Character: Claire Standish ("the princess")

Who plays who? It's generally believed Hughes wrote the part with Ringwald in mind, though Ally Sheedy was considered for it as well.

Memorable line: "I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say."

Ringwald on her role: "I really wanted to pay the popular girl because it was so different from the way I actually felt."Where she is now: In a flip from her best-known teen roles, Ringwald now plays the mom on ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

2. Judd nelson

Character: John Bender ("the criminal")

Two other big stars applied: Nicolas Cage and John Cusack also were considered for the role of Bender, the last character cast.

Memorable line: "Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?"

Nelson on improvising on set: "Hughes was so open. He was a reasonably inexperienced guy, who he knew all these things, like, how does trying something hurt?"Where he is now: In the 1990s, Nelson starred opposite Brooke Shields on TV's Suddenly Susan. In 2009, he appeared in Boondock Saints II. He has several other movies set for release soon.

3. Anthony michael hall

Character: Brian Johnson ("the brain")

Frye ... Frye ... Frye ... : Alan Ruck, who would play Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, also read for the part of Brian early in the casting process.

Memorable line: "Chicks cannot hold their smoke, dat's what it is."

Hall on his resemblance to a younger Hughes: "I think it's probably fair to say I was a muse of sorts for him."Where he is now: Hall starred in USA Network's The Dead Zone from 2002 to 2007. He played the role of Whitey Ford in HBO's baseball drama 61* in 2001.

4. Emilio estevez

Character: Andrew Clark ("the athlete")

A different type of jock: Hughes originally wrote the role to be about a football player. But the movie's casting director believed Hollywood was tired of that sport, so she suggested wrestling.

Memorable line: "We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all."

Blown cover: Hughes sent his actors undercover to a real high school, so they could hang with regular teens. But Estevez's true identity was immediately compromised; he had co-starred in The Outsiders, which had just opened in theaters.

Where he is now: Estevez turned his attention to directing in the late '80s. His latest projects include episodes of TV's Cold Case, CSI: NY and the 2006 feature film Bobby.

5. Ally sheedy

Character: Allison Reynolds ("the basket case")

Too pretty to be Allison: Some casting execs doubted that Sheedy, who played "the pretty girl" previously in WarGames and Bad Boys, could be convincing as a brooding misfit.

Memorable line: "It's kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it? … If you say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut. It's a trap. You want to but you can't, and when you do you wish you didn't, right?"

Sheedy's enduring memories: "It's an experience I only share with them. I feel like there was nobody except the other four and John who knew exactly what it was like to make a movie like that and to have it change our lives forever."Where she is now: After big roles in St. Elmo's Fire and Short Circuit, most of Sheedy's recent work has been on TV, including a spot on The Dead Zone with Breakfast Club co-star Hall.

Top 5: Our favorite roles and moments in 'The Breakfast Club' 02/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010 8:39am]
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