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‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ Cast: See the Star-Studded Ensemble Then and Now

Take a look back at the film that launched The Brat Pack's stardom!


Back in 1985, a film about a clique of recent Georgetown University graduates hit the big screen, solidifying the careers of the St. Elmo’s Fire cast. Although the film received negative reviews, it launched the careers of “The Brat Pack”, a group of young, powerful and often wild actors and actresses.

MUST-READ: See the ‘Brat Pack’ Then and Now: The 8 Iconic Actors Who Dominated the ’80s

The movie’s focus on adjustment to post-college life and ensuing responsibilities of adulthood could also describe the young actors who were trying to navigate their own ways through Hollywood life. Members of The Brat Pack included Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall, though the latter two were not actually in St. Elmo’s Fire.

The cast of St. Elmo's Fire on set, 1985
The cast of St. Elmo’s Fire on set, 1985Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Absent from most membership lists is Mare Winngham, the only principal who never starred in any other films considered Brat Pack inclusive. Emilio Estevez was cited as the “unofficial president” and McCarthy has said he was never a member of the group.

As St. Elmo’s Fire reveals, seven friends — Alec, Billy, Jules, Kevin, Kirby, Leslie and Wendy — gather regularly at the local hangout, St. Elmo’s Bar, to discuss, analyze and grapple with their friendships following college graduation. Ultimately, through the many romances, family commitments, back-stabbing and co-habitations, the question remains for all seven as to whether their friendship can survive adult reality.

See the iconic St. Elmo’s Fire cast today

Here’s a look at the seven friends of the St. Elmo’s Fire cast then and now.

Judd Nelson as Alec Newburry

Judd Nelson Left: 1985; Right: 2019
Judd Nelson Left: 1985; Right: 2019Universal Pictures/Getty; Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty

Alec is truly a yuppie who wants to pursue a career in politics. He suddenly reveals his true colors by changing his party allegiance from Democrat to Republican, which totally freaks out his girlfriend Leslie, who he wants to marry.

Born in Portland, Maine, Judd Nelson headed straight for New York City upon graduation from Haverford College in Pennsylvania. “When I was in college, all the pretty women were in the theatre, so I auditioned for a play.” That’s when the acting bug bit him. His first paying job was in Fandango in 1985, alongside fellow actor Kevin Costner.

But it was his role in The Breakfast Club (1985) and then being part of the St. Elmo’s Fire cast the same year that made Nelson a star and a member of the Brat Pack. “My Brat Pack buddies and I didn’t exactly handle celebrity very well. Success at an early age is far more difficult to handle than failure.”

Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy in St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy in St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

In 1991, he had a starring role in the urban gangster movie New Jack City, which was a commercial success, then, switching gears, in 1994 he appeared in the comedy Airheads. Nelson took a turn on TV, co-starring in the sitcom Suddenly Susan, which had a successful four-season run.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and he has appeared in TV series such as in the original CSI, CSI: NY, CSI: Las Vegas and had a recurring role in Two and a Half Men. Film director/writer Kevin Smith, being a long-time fan of Nelson, cast him in a cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001). In 2021, Nelson starred as Don Cody in the Lifetime film, Girl in the Basement, based on true life events.

Ally Sheedy as Leslie Hunter

Ally Sheedy Left: 1987; Right: 2023
Ally Sheedy Left: 1987; Right: 2023Barry King/WireImage/Getty; Slaven Vlasic/Getty

All Leslie wants to do after graduation is to become an independent, successful architect. In order to marry Alec, Leslie feels she has to make it in the working world before she becomes a wife, yet she and Alec decide to live together. Unfortunately, Alec’s behavior is not what you’d expect from a future husband.

Ally Sheedy made her feature film debut in Bad Boys (1983) opposite Sean Penn, but came to prominence as a member of the Brat Pack with roles in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire and Blue City (1986). Acting was not Ally Sheedy’s initial goal, her original plan to make ballet a full-time career. To this end, she began dancing with the American Ballet Theatre at age six, but her plans switched to acting and she began in local stage productions as a teenager.

Ally Sheedy on the set of St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Ally Sheedy on the set of St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

Besides her Brat Pack films, Sheedy had roles in many popular 80s movies, among them WarGames (1983), Short Circuit (1986) and Maid to Order (1987). In 1998, her performance in the indie film High Art garnered awards from many outlets. She said she drew on her own drug addiction experience to play the role of a drug addicted photographer in this film. “But the fact is, nobody gets off drugs unless they really want to, and I really wanted to.”

Then in 1999, Sheedy went back to the stage in the lead role of the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the run ended early amid mixed reviews. After the TV show Kyle XY (2008), Sheedy played the role of Mr. Yang on the show Psych for several seasons. Away from the bright lights, she has been a professor in the theater department in City College of New York, and last year appeared on an episode of GMA3: What You Need To Know.

(Click through to our sister site for more on the fascinating career of Ally Sheedy!)

Emilio Estevez as Kirby Keager

Emilio Estevez Left: 1980; Right: 2023
Emilio Estevez Left: 1980; Right: 2023Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty; Jason Mendez/Getty

Kirby is looking to become a lawyer and works hard as a waiter at St. Elmo’s Bar in order to pay for tuition. Kevin and Kirby are roommates. Kirby has reconnected with a slightly older woman he knew in college and now adores.

As the eldest son of actor Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez chose to retain the family name, hoping to avoid any nepotism. Attending Santa Monica High School, Estevez co-wrote and starred in the play Echoes of an Era that stunned his dad with its brilliance — that was the true beginning of Estevez’s acting career.

The 80s were very kind to him as he gained much attention from being in The Brat Pack, though prior to that he appeared in the movies Tex (1982), The Outsiders (1983) and Repo Man (1984). He appeared in John HughesThe Breakfast Club before joining the St. Elmo’s cast.

Emilio Estevez with the male cast of St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Emilio Estevez with the male cast of St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

The ambitious young actor both starred in and made his screenwriting debut That Was Then…This Is Now (1985), then added directing to his resume with Wisdom (1986). Men At Work (1990) was a moderate success, but its story of two slacker garbage men now enjoys a cult status. Stakeout (1987) and Young Guns (1988) saw Estevez in fine acting form. The enormously popular Mighty Ducks Disney franchise gave him career longevity, coaching a pee wee hockey team. He reprised his role in the 2021 TV series Mighty Ducks: Gamechanger.

It was in 2006 that Bobby, a day in the life and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, saw Estevez write, direct and act in the film. Due to writer’s block, he almost went bankrupt. “I swore to myself that I’d make it through drive, ambition and hard work.”

Gaining respect in Hollywood, Estevez released feature films in 2010 and 2018, the latter being The Public, in which he wrote, directed and acted. Music videos also came his way via his friendship with rocker Jon Bon Jovi. He appeared in Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory music video as Billy the Kid. In turn, Bon Jovi made a cameo appearance in Young Guns II.

Rob Lowe as Billy Hicks

Rob Lowe Left: 1985; Right: 2023
Rob Lowe Left: 1985; Right: 2023Vinnie Zuffante/Getty; Jon Kopaloff/WireImage/Getty

Okay, who would have thought that Rob Lowe could be the irresponsible one of the group, sleeping around and playing the sax instead of taking responsibility for his marriage and child? Family commitments are obviously not in Billy’s wheelhouse. Rather, he still likes to live the life of a frat boy. Sounds like the role of Billy Hicks was written with Lowe in mind.

Lowe broke into acting in his teens with the short-lived sitcom A New Kind of Family. Following numerous television roles, he came to prominence as a teen idol and a Brat Pack member with roles in The Outsiders, Class, The Hotel New Hampshire, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night, to name just a few.

The success of his films made his star skyrocket and established him as a true Hollywood star. But in truth, he was emulating his lovable rogue Billy Hicks character for years. “I became so identified with it — the wild, fun, rock and roll, quasi-debauched with the heart of gold guy — that’s my early 20s in a nutshell.

Portrait of Rob Lowe for St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Portrait of Rob Lowe, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

Related: The Cast of ‘The Outsiders’ Then and Now: See Where the Stars of the ’80s Classic Are Today

At age 26, he had reached what he called the bottom, and saw he needed a different path. So back to television to resurrect his life and career, beginning with The West Wing as Sam Seaborn. In between TV gigs, Lowe impersonated Robert Wagner’s voice for the Young Number Two in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999).

Trading in political drama for comedy, he appeared as Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation, but was back to drama on the critically acclaimed 9-1-1: Lone Star, where he played Captain Owen Strand from 2020 to present. On any given day, you’d find Lowe juggling – that is, his hit action procedural, two podcasts, hosting the new game show The Floor, and a one-man stage show.

His Netflix series, Unstable, was just renewed for season 2. But the most rewarding gig of his life? Being a husband to wife Sheryl, father to their two sons, and a TV writer.

Demi Moore as Jules Van Patten in the St. Elmo’s Fire cast

Demi Moore Left: 1985; 2023
Demi Moore Left: 1985; 2023LGI Stock/Corbis/VCG/Getty; Monica Schipper/Getty

Jules is the party girl of the group, who lives a life of excess in all forms, but doesn’t have the financial means to live that lifestyle. She is a rather successful international banker, but the group grows concerned about Jules.

Known for her husky voice and sparkling green eyes, Demi Moore quit school at age 16 to leave a fractious home life and became a pin-up girl. At age 19, daytime producers saw her potential and she was cast as Jackie Templeton on General Hospital. With a regular paycheck coming in, Moore spent her time partying with cocaine and alcohol until director Joel Schmacher threatened to fire her from the St. Elmo’s Fire cast. She sought rehab and returned to the set clean.

Portrait of Demi Moore for St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Portrait of Demi Moore, 1985Columbia Pictures/Getty

Demi Moore’s acting skill almost rivaled her talent for self-promotion, such as appearing nude – yet beautiful – on a Vanity Fair cover while seven months pregnant. She established herself as a bankable star with the supernatural romantic melodrama Ghost (1990), which was a huge commercial success. She followed that up with A Few Good Men (1992), Indecent Proposal (1993) and Disclosure (1994), all of which made Moore one of Hollywood’s most sought after and most expensive actresses.

But after the disappointing Striptease (1996), Moore’s career continued its downturn with such films as The Scarlet Letter, G.I. Jane, Mr. Brooks and Margin Call. Her diva-esque demands were reinforcing her negative reputation and after G.I. Jane’s box office failure, she retreated to Hailey, Idaho on a full-time basis to be mom to her three daughters and entertain her passion for doll collecting, which at last count, was over 2000 vintage dolls.

Demi Moore, 1993
Demi Moore, 1993Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty

She returned to the screen in the 2003 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, which was a success, and at age 40, Moore looked dashing in a bikini. Versace fashion brand and Helena Rubinstein cosmetics took note and signed her up. The 2000s were more favorable to her as she appeared in big and small screen ventures.

She starred in HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk and acted in the musical drama series Empire (2015-2017). Currently she can be seen on the small screen as Ann Woodward in the highly anticipated FX on Hulu film, Feud: Capote vs. The Swans. Demi has joined the cast of Taylor Sheridan‘s upcoming Paramount+ series Landman, says Variety. She joins previously announced series lead Billy Bob Thornton in the new series.

Related: ‘FEUD’ Stars Naomi Watts, Diane Lane and Calista Flockhart Talk Capote, His Swans and Crushing Betrayal

Andrew McCarthy as Kevin Dolenz in the St. Elmo’s Fire cast

Andrew McCarthy Left: 1985; Right: 2018
Andrew McCarthy Left: 1985; Right: 2018Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty; Walter McBride/WireImage/Getty

Kevin shuns the dating scene completely and tells his friends that he really doesn’t believe in love. Sullen in nature, his day job is as a serious writer for The Washington Post. Speculation amongst his friends is that Kevin might be gay.

Andrew McCarthy is not only an actor, travel writer and television director, but perhaps is most known as a member of the Brat Pack with roles in 80s films such as Pretty in Pink and as a member of the St. Elmo’s Fire cast. McCarthy always had acting ambitions, playing the Artful Dodger in Oliver! at his preparatory academy, where he also played basketball. At age 18, he went to NYU as a theatre major, appeared in several on and off Broadway shows, and then got the lead in the 1983 comedy Class opposite Jacqueline Bisset.

Andrew McCarthy and Demi Moore in St. Elmo's Fire, 1985
Andrew McCarthy and Demi Moore in St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

Breaking away from The Brat Pack, McCarthy appeared in 1987’s Mannequin and Less Then Zero, while two years later he starred with Donald Sutherland in Heaven Help Us. Taking his success back to Broadway, he starred in The Boys of Winter only to quickly return to Hollywood in 1988 to star in several films, including Fresh Horses, Kansas and another hit comedy in the form of 1989’s Weekend at Bernie’s.

His Broadway, TV and film appearances have continued. McCarthy took his turn in directing several episodes of Gossip Girl and, in 2010 appeared in White Collar, only to return the following year to direct an episode, before going on to The Blacklist, directing several episodes of that show as well. He returned to TV series in The Resident. Since the mid 2000s, McCarthy has had a second career as a travel writer for such publications as National Geographic Traveler, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many others.

Mare Winningham as Wendy Beamish in the St. Elmo’s Fire cast

Mare Winningham Left: 1988; Right: 2022
Mare Winningham Left: 1988; Right: 2022George Rose/Getty; Bruce Glikas/WireImage/Getty

Though Wendy comes from a wealthy family, she is a low-paid social worker devoted to the less fortunate and always wanting to help others. Her family continues providing financial support for all her needs, though. Having lived a sheltered life, Wendy is still a virgin, but falls in love with eternal frat boy Billy, who of course, takes advantage of her adoration for him.

While Wendy was the film’s virgin, in actuality the actress playing her was pregnant during filming. Since St. Elmo’s Fire, Mary “Mare” Winningham has played some outstanding roles in many big films, such as The War and Wyatt Earp, both in 1994 and both co-starring Kevin Costner. She won a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in Georgia (1995) making her the only Brat Packer ever to be nominated for an Oscar.

With the success of St. Elmo’s Fire, Winningham could have easily cashed in on her teen idol status, but returned to TV in Love Is Never Silent for Hallmark — receiving an Emmy nomination for her performance. She finished off the 80s with Miracle Mile and Turner & Hooch alongside Tom Hanks.

Born in Phoenix but raised in Southern California, Winningham made her TV debut on The Gong Show at age 16, when she appeared as a contestant, playing guitar and singing “Here, There, and Everywhere.” And, no, she wasn’t gonged — the panel simply loved her. Winningham had always set out to be a singer/songwriter, but instead has appeared in 100 TV shows and feature films, hitting it big with St. Elmo’s Fire and joining The Brat Pack.

Mare Winningham with Demi Moore and Ally Sheely, 1985
Mare Winningham with Demi Moore and Ally Sheely, 1985Channel-Lauren Shuler/Columbia Pictures/MoviestillsDB

Throughout her career, Winningham is an eight-time Emmy nominee, winning Outstanding Supporting Actress for Amber Waves in 1980 and George Wallace in 1998. Her memorable TV roles include ER, Grey’s Anatomy, 24 and The Thornbirds (way back in 1983).

She also appeared in American Horror Story for four seasons. Winningham has successfully alternated her film and television career with a music career and has used some of her films as a way to showcase her singing. They included a few bars of “Me and Bobby McGee” in One Trick Pony, she sang six Janis Ian songs in the film Freedom, appeared as a club singer in Teresa’s Tattoo and sang three songs in Georgia.

She has recorded four albums from 1992 through 2014. More recently, Winningham was nominated for a second Tony for her leading performance in Girl From The North Country in 2022. And on the personal front, she married former ER co-star Anthony Edwards in 2021.

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