Some movies and shows manage to come out of nowhere and become smash hits. Most, however, rely on the talents of established stars to bring in viewers. Nothing can capture public interest and fascination quite like a Hollywood star. Whether tuning in to watch their performances, keeping up on the latest rumors and drama, or even watching reality shows about their lives, these stars are a form of entertainment in themselves.
As time passes, however, the stars that people loved so dearly tend to fade as young talent emerges. Looking back, many people feel a great sense of nostalgia for decades past and wonder what happened to the actors who defined the culture at the time. Luckily, in an age where just about everything is documented online, it is fairly easy to keep track of past stars. For this reason, here is what some of the biggest stars from the 80s have been up to lately. Some may come as a surprise while others may have not changed at all. Regardless, here is an update on some of the most famous actors from the 1980s.
A fan-favorite, Estevez was a true 80s star. He was a member of the Brat Pack, starring in classic films like The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire. By the 90s, he attempted to break out of the “kind-hearted jock” roles he was in with The Mighty Ducks franchise. As of late, he has been noticeably absent from the screen. This is because he has decided to take his talents offstage, focusing on his writing and directing. In fact, he is currently directing a film called The Public, which centers on a public library taking in refugees. In terms of engaging with the public, Estevez brought back memories by live-tweeting an Anaheim Ducks game in a parody of his character from The Mighty Ducks.
Another core member of the highly popular Brat Pack, the 80s would not have been the same without Sheedy. With breakout roles in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, Sheedy played a pivotal role in these coming-of-age films. Her career since has seen a fairly steady stream of success compared to her contemporaries. She arguably saw a career high with High Art, a performance which earned her several awards including an Independent Spirit Award. As stated above, Sheedy never exactly faded from the spotlight. She can even be seen in some of today’s biggest films, as she had a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse. Currently, she is making great use of her long and storied career, giving the lessons she has learned to young actors. Today, she teaches film and theater at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School.
Anthony Michael Hall
One of the most important stars from the 80s to many people, Hall often took on the role of a “nerd” in his early career. Another member of the famous Brat Pack, he starred in The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and National Lampoon’s Vacation. In order to avoid being typecast, Hall would later join SNL. More recently, Hall saw great success as part of The Dead Zone, a highly popular show. Unfortunately, his personal life has not lived up to his success in the 80s. He was charged with battery after having an altercation with a neighbor in 2016.
Perhaps the single most iconic star of the 80s, Ringwald gave powerful and classic performances as a member of the Brat Pack. Few actors on this list have achieved the level of cultural importance that Ringwald achieved in her early career. While her greatest success was seen in the 80s, she has managed to have a highly successful career since. More recently, Ringwald began writing an advice column for The Guardian in 2014. In terms of screen time, she made a notable guest appearance in the breakout hit Riverdale as Mary Andrews. Fans loved her performance and felt she fit the role perfectly.
Another cultural icon from the 80s, The Breakfast Club simply would not have been the same without Nelson. Bender was a character which spoke to many of the more rebellious youth in the 80s and even today. Since his breakout roles, he was seen a highly successful career. Today, Nelson can be seen as Billy Beretti on Empire. This show has received high praise from fans and critics alike, and was renewed for its fourth season in January of this year. As well, he is currently narrating Cojot, a documentary following Michel Cojot, a survivor of the Holocaust.
An 80s heartthrob who never seemed to age as the years went by, Lowe is nearly as significant today as he was in his youth. With breakout roles in The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire, Lowe achieved incredible fame which led to some personal issues. However, since this time he has managed to maintain a highly successful career. Perhaps most notably in recent years, Lowe could be seen on popular shows like Code Black and Parks and Recreation. He is set to appear in the much-anticipated Super Troopers 2. His place in the minds of today’s youth was solidified with his roast on Comedy Central in 2016.
One of the most critically successful actors on this list, Rourke rose to prominence in the 80s with roles in films like Body Heat. After a string of successful performances, he decided to pursue professional boxing. Recently, his athletic career took a turn for the embarrassing. In 2014, his final professional bout took place in Moscow. His opponent recently came forward to explain that he took a dive for money, making Rourke’s win undeserved. However, he has continued to find great success as an actor with roles in The Wrestler, Iron Man 2, and Immortals which were all given high praise by critics.
Another incredible critical success, Hackman is one of the actors which will cause great nostalgia in fans from the 80s. This is because although his career was filled with both commercially and critically successful performances, Hackman has not taken to the screen since 2004. Instead, he has exercised his creative talents in a different medium. Hackman is now a writer, with his first novels coming in the form of historical fiction. He also released a police thriller called Pursuit in 2013.
Arguably the most successful actor on this list, Cruise was such a breakout star that his name became synonymous with action movies. Few actors in history have had the type of worldwide fame that Cruise enjoys. His early successes came with roles in Risky Business and The Outsiders. Today, Cruise is just as culturally relevant and iconic as ever. With current roles in the Jack Reacher series, continued installments of Mission Impossible, and a starring role in the reboot of The Mummy, Cruise shows no signs of slowing down. While his personal life, religion, and erratic behavior were massive stories in years past, his films today are just as successful as his fans from the 80s would have hoped.
An interesting and irreplaceable star from the 80s, Turner rose to fame by starring in films like Body Heat, Romancing the Stone, and Prizzi’s Honor. For these performances, she was showered with praise, even winning two Golden Globes. Her lifestyle and health took a toll on Turner in subsequent years, as she developed severe arthritis and began drinking heavily. Luckily, she was able to regain her health and get her career back on track. Today, Turner can be seen in the popular Hulu series The Path. This show was renewed for its third season just weeks ago in April.
A much-beloved and admired actor, Michael Douglas is another 80s star who justified his fame with a series of incredible performances. He even earned himself an Academy Award for his performance in Wall Street. Whether in blockbusters or independent productions, Douglas continued to see success throughout his career. This has continued right up to the present, as Douglas can be seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Ant Man. His relationship with Catherine Zeta Jones is also the subject of public interest, as the two recently reconciled after taking some time apart.
Sheen saw his fame at the highest points in the 80s and in the 2010s, but for very different reasons. In his early career, Sheen emerged as a powerful and charismatic actor with roles in Platoon and Wall Street. Later, he would become television’s highest paid actor in 2010 with his role on Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, he suffered what appeared to be a mental breakdown in 2011 following his dismissal from the show. In 2011, he was the subject of a highly popular Comedy Central roast. Even more recently, Sheen has stated that he is HIV positive and has been quite open about his struggles with his health.
One of the 80s most beloved stars, Jon Cryer broke into the public consciousness with his role in Pretty in Pink. For a long while afterwards, Cryer struggled to replicate the success he saw in the 80s. This was until he landed the role of Alan Harper on Two and a Half Men, a role which he portrayed until very recently. Today, Cryer has taken his talents to the highly successful podcast Undisclosed. He has also been publicly critical of President Donald Trump.
An 80s star who has seen a steady and successful career, Cusack emerged as a force to be reckoned with in Better Off Dead and Say Anything… He managed to find continued success right up to the present. His most notable films of late have been Hot Tub Time Machine and 2012. Fans can look forward to seeing him in person in August, as he is set to make an appearance at Comic Con Chicago.
Macchio is one of the 80s stars whose name will unavoidably instill a powerful sense of nostalgia for any fan of The Karate Kid. While he is most famous for this iconic film, he also starred in the 80s hit The Outsiders. Recently, he could be seen appearing as himself in notable shows such as How I Met Your Mother. He also participated in the roast of Rob Lowe in 2016, a reunion of 80s stars. He was seen just last week at the red carpet of the New York premiere of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This appearance caused many to take note that the “Karate Kid” is still in excellent shape.
Ford is one of Hollywood’s greatest icons. He has starred in some of the most commercially successful film franchises in history, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Blade Runner. He has recently captivated audiences and brought back many fond memories of the past with his portrayal of Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It looks as though Ford will continue making fans feel nostalgic, as he is set to appear in the upcoming Blade Runner 2049.
McCarthy is one of the most versatile and talented stars from the 80s. Fans will remember him most from his roles in St. Elmo’s Fire and Weekend at Bernie’s. However, his current fans know him as much more than just an actor. Today, McCarthy is best known for his work behind the scenes and even away from film. He has directed several episodes of the highly successful The Blacklist. As well, he is an accomplished travel writer and has recently released his first novel, Just Fly Away. He also recently opened up about his family, stating his third child is a two-year-old son.
Another 80s icon whose career has gone in several different directions, Feldman was an important figure in some of the classics from the 80s. This includes roles in films such as The Goonies and Stand By Me. He also had a highly controversial relationship with Michael Jackson. Music has always been just as important to Feldman as acting. While fans of his early work may have wished to see him on screen, music has become the focus of his career. In fact, he recently released an album titled Angelic 2 the Core in 2016.
A fan-favorite from the 80s, Guttenberg’s role in the Policy Academy films earned him a great deal of popularity as well as a significant fan base. He recently announced his engagement with Emily Smith in December of 2016. Fans looking to recapture the joy of watching Guttenberg on screen need not worry. He is set to appear alongside Dwayne Johnson in season 3 of Ballers on HBO as a Las Vegas billionaire.
The Chicago native Gertz found great success early in her career with appearances in Sixteen Candles and Crossroads. Since then, she has continued to entertain audiences with a highly successful career. Today, Gertz shows no signs of slowing down. While she may not have the iconic status she enjoyed in the 80s, she still appears in some of today’s biggest hits. This even included an appearance on NBC’s This Is Us.