It was 1987 and time for another romantic-drama screenplay from John Hughes, one of several successful efforts bringing his particular take on teen angst and drama to moviegoers. Along with the typical Hughes storylines (see Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink), the Some Kind of Wonderful cast is made up of a successful young generation of actors and actresses bringing this gem of the 80s to life — a gem worthy of repeat viewing.
The Some Kind of Wonderful cast comes together to bring to life the caste system at San Fernando Valley High School outside of Los Angeles. Blue collar versus the elite and privileged teens is the focus of the film with working class Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) going on a date with the popular and privileged Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), a girl he has always dreamed of dating. Unfortunately, Amanda’s ex-boyfriend, Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer), who is from the rich section of town, is unable to let go of her, and plans to get revenge on Keith.
Within the triangle is tomboy drummer, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), Keith’s best friend who discovers that her feelings for her BFF run deeper than just friendship. Keith’s popularity rises due to his association with wealthy Amanda, but Amanda’s popularity, in turn, quickly declines.
A definite take on the strict social hierarchy of public schools in the late 80s and 90s, which continues in to today’s school system, the Some Kind of Wonderful cast has since graduated high school and gone on to other show biz projects.
Here’s a look at them today.
Eric Stoltz as Keith Nelson in the Some Kind of Wonderful cast
Eric Stoltz has had a diverse career, appearing in a wide variety of films, from mainstream to independent films such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and Killing Zoe. He became a sought after director after stepping behind the camera on the TV series Glee.
When the theater trained actor was fourteen, he was earning money by playing piano for local musical theater productions, including Mame, where he befriended actor Anthony Edwards. The two were college roommates at the University of Southern California, though Stoltz dropped out in his junior year.
His first feature film, Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), cemented a friendship between himself and Fast Times director Cameron Crowe, with Stoltz appearing in each of Crowe’s next four films, The Wild Life (1984), Say Anything (1989), Singles (1992) and Jerry Maguire (1996).
It was 1985 that really proved to be a defining point in Stoltz’s career when he received a Golden Globe nomination for his starring performance in Mask, as prosthetic-laden Rocky Dennis, opposite Cher, a role that almost didn’t happen when he had to sneak into his audition after being told to leave the reception area. He then skyrocketed to teen heartthrob status with his role as mechanic and aspiring artist Keith Nelson in Some Kind of Wonderful. This role was written with Stoltz in mind.
Stoltz didn’t limit himself to films; he continued to appear on the New York stage (Our Town, Three Sisters and more), and was nominated for a Tony for his performance in Our Town. On television, he had a recurring role on Mad About You, spent a year on Chicago Hope (1994) and guest starred on Will & Grace as Debra Messing’s love interest. Going against type, Stoltz played a serial killer on Grey’s Anatomy (2008).
More recently, the multi talented actor/director/producer/writer, became director and executive producer (along with three others) of Madam Secretary, while also appearing as Tea Leoni’s brother.
As an in-demand documentary narrator, he’s voiced three episodes of PBS’s The American Experience as well as films about everyone from Oscar Wilde to Andrew Jackson. His audiobook credits include Michael Chabon‘s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and children’s book, Philadelphia Chickens: A Too Illogical Zoological Musical Revue.
Craig Sheffer as Hardy Jenns in the Some Kind of Wonderful cast
Craig Sheffer’s role in the Some Kind of Wonderful cast is as Amanda’s rich, wealthy ex-boyfriend, a character nobody is supposed to root for. In contrast, Sheffer’s real life was far from Hardy Jenns’.
Born in blue collar York, Pennsylvania, Sheffer sold newspapers in New York City before becoming an actor, sleeping under the marble staircase in Grand Central Station for weeks while relying on the kindness of strangers at Unification Church for spaghetti dinners.
But then daytime drama came calling when the role of Ian Hayden on One Life To Live brought the young actor a SAG card. He is probably best known for his leading roles as Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It alongside Brad Pitt, Aaron Boone in Nightbreed, Joe Kane in The Program and on the TV series, One Tree Hill as Keith Scott.
He played opposite Eric Stoltz again in Sleep With Me (1994) and continued throughout the 90s in film and TV. His directorial debut, dark comedy American Crude, went straight to DVD. In 2016. Additionally, he co-starred with Steven Seagal in Code of Honor.
Mary Stuart Masterson as Watts in the Some Kind of Wonderful cast
As with her fellow Some Kind of Wonderful cat mates, Mary Stuart Masterson has a varied resume, ranging from film to Broadway to television. When she was just eight years old, Mary Stuart made her first film appearance in The Stepford Wives, playing a daughter to her real-life dad, Peter Masterson. Instead of becoming a child actor, a decade would go by before Masterson returned to the bright lights in Heaven Help Us.
Her talent was recognized when she was cast opposite Christopher Walken and Sean Penn in At Close Range (1985). Two years later, Some Kind of Wonderful came knocking and her stand-out role as tomboyish Watts, whose crush on her BFF goes unrequited, was critically acclaimed. She continued acting throughout the 80s, including Immediate Family, starring as Lucy Moore, a teenage girl giving up her first baby to a wealthy couple. For her work in the film she received a Best Supporting Actress award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
Perhaps one of her most recognizable features was starring in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and in 1993, playying opposite Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon. Then she portrayed one of three other former prostitutes (portrayed by Madeleine Stowe, Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore) traveling the Old West in Bad Girls.
Between 2005 and 2007, she made guest starring appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, was in the Broadway’s musical Nine, which garnered her a Tony Award nomination, and throughout the 2000s she narrated several audiobooks.
Directing The Cake Eaters (2007) was her foray into behind the camera work, of which she said, “When I signed to do this, I wasn’t scared but, yes, it was scary. I’m already 40 although we don’t want to talk about that. In 1992, I wrote my first screenplay which I then was to direct, but I ended up taking an acting job because it takes forever to get a movie made.”
Lea Thompson as Amanda Jones
A fortuitous casting for Lea Thompson in Some Kind of Wonderful, for the it was during the film’s production that the actress first met her husband, director Howard Deutch; the two have been married since 1989.
Acting was a fallback career to Lea’s initial first love – ballet. She studied ballet as a young girl in her hometown of Rochester, Minnesota while she and her family were living at the Starlight motel. Ever since Lea was little, she loved to dance and by the time she’d turned 14, she had performed in more than 45 ballets on stages, winning scholarships to the San Francisco Ballet, and American Ballet Theater.
But at ABT, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the artistic director at the time, told her, “You’re a lovely dancer, but you’re too stocky.” She has recalled, “That was my epiphany when I decided to stop dancing and not be a ballet dancer.” So Thompson changed her focus to acting, first appearing in a number of Burger King ads in the 80s alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar and Elisabeth Shue while working as a waitress.
Her movie debut was opposite a killer shark in Jaws 3-D in 1983. “It was the very first movie I ever got, but I lied and said I had done a couple of other movies, so when I showed up, I really knew absolutely nothing. Also, I had said I knew how to water ski and I did not. I had five days to learn really, really complicated water-skiing things. I don’t even know how to swim!”
Swim or not, Thompson’s most famous role didn’t require any aquatics. She played Lorraine Baines McFly in the Back to The Future trilogy, with the first film released in 1985. Throughout the 80s, Thompson starred in various films, including SpaceCamp, Howard the Duck and The Wizard of Loneliness. She appeared in several TV films in the 90s while popular success followed her as the star of the sitcom Caroline in the City from 1995 to 1999. She took home a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in 1996.
Thompson put acting on the back burner for several years and took to Broadway in several plays. She also assumed a popular role on Hallmark’s Jane Doe series, an ex-secret agent turned suburban housewife who helps the government solve mysteries. Various TV films, and series followed along with competing on Dancing with the Stars. More recently she directed an episode of the Syfy series Resident Alien in 2022 along with episodes of Star Trek: Picard the same year.
Candace Cameron Bure plays the youngest of three kids amongst the Some Kind of Wonderful cast. On Full House, she plays the oldest of three. This film marked her feature film debut.
Molly Ringwald was offered the role of Amanda Jones but refused it, ending her successful relationship with John Hughes.
The three main characters have names relating to The Rolling Stones: Amanda Jones named after a song of the same name, which also played on the film’s soundtrack; a drummer called Watts (Charlie Watts) and a character called Keith (Keith Richards).
Eric Stoltz met actress Bridget Fonda in 1986 and they began dating in 1990. The relationship ended after eight years.
Check in with more iconic 1980s movie casts below!