Molly Ringwald came to define 1980s teen movies with the trifecta of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Even today, the actor is remembered by many as the "perfect, sweet American girl next door," as she's put it herself. But after the '80s ended, Ringwald literally moved away from the Hollywood limelight to lead an altogether different life. And now she's letting the world know exactly why she felt she had to escape.
An era-defining actor
Ringwald is the first to admit that those '80s movies changed the face of teen cinema and solidified her public image. She pins that on one specific person, too. "In life, there is always that special person who shapes who you are, who helps to determine the person you become," Ringwald wrote in The New York Times in 2009. "Very often it’s a teacher, a mentor of some kind. For me, that person was John Hughes."
The John Hughes '80s
It's not a stretch to say that writer-director John Hughes had a seismic effect on Hollywood. He was the go-to guy for teen drama in the 1980s, having had a hand in Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful, as well as the Ringwald movies. "I think the reason why I like working with John is that he really understands kids because he genuinely likes young people," Ringwald said in 1986. She's since credited him with giving her a career, too.
It started with an obsession
"John saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself," Ringwald wrote in The New York Times. "He had complete confidence in me as an actor, which was an extraordinary and heady sensation for anyone, let alone a 16-year-old girl." And the really amazing thing was that Hughes saw all of this potential before he had even met Ringwald in the flesh. All it took was a picture.
The headshot that led to a screenplay
Ringwald explained to The New York Times in 2010 that Hughes actually wrote Sixteen Candles for her — even though he didn't know her. "He had just moved to [the talent agency] I.C.M., and I was at I.C.M. at the time, and they’d given him a stack of headshots, and mine was one of them," she said. "For some reason, he picked out my headshot and had it up on his bulletin board, and he wrote Sixteen Candles looking at my pictures."