Skip to main content

The cast of The Breakfast Club looked completely different before we ended up with our iconic crew of misfits. It’s hard to imagine anyone other than the finalized cast. Yet the original actors would have made The Breakfast Club a different movie entirely. Who was originally going to play the brain, the princess, the athlete, the criminal, and the basket case? You won’t believe the original cast.

The Breakfast Club cast
The Breakfast Club cast | The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Molly Ringwald was originally going to play Allison 

John Hughes, the director of the masterful “ship of fools” film, had already worked with Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall on Sixteen Candles. Because of this, he knew without hesitation that he wanted the two young actors to be on board for The Breakfast Club.

And while Hughes knew at once that Hall would be perfect for the role of the brace-faced “brain” of the group, he had different plans for Ringwald.

Originally, she was supposed to play the gothic outcast, Allison. Yet, according to Ringwald, she had no desire to play that part. Instead, she wanted to take the role of the princess, Claire. Ringwald reveals in Susannah Gora’s book, You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, that she had already done the “loner” role in Sixteen Candles.

Because she didn’t want to be typecast and desperately wanted to explore the role of Claire, Hughes let her take on the role of the most popular girl in school. 

John Cusack was supposed to play Bender and Joan Cusack was going to play Allison

We all know and love John Cusack for his sensitive leading role in Say Anything. The puppy-eyed heartthrob is perfect for this romantic part. But imagining him for the role of the chaotic criminal in The Breakfast Club is just comical. Yet, according to Gora’s book, the actor was originally set to play the part that was meant for Judd Nelson. You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried describes the moment they knew Cusack was wrong for the part. 

Joan Cusack and John Cusack
Joan Cusack and John Cusack | Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

“‘John (Hughes) flew in John Cusack,’ remembers Burch. ‘It was a big day of screen-testing. And at the time, no one knew Judd Nelson really, and Cusack was a bigger name.’ Remembers Ringwald, ‘Cusack was originally supposed to play the character, and Joan Cusack was going to play Alison. That’s who the original cast was in Chicago.’”

But Burch strongly felt that John Cusack was ‘totally wrong’ for the role of Bender, something “which I think he will never forgive me about. I was like, ‘We’ll pay for your plane ticket home,’ but John Cusack was like, ‘Grrr.’ Says Ringwald, ‘I think that was very upsetting for him.’”

Rick Moranis was going to play the janitor (until he got fired) 

While the rest of the cast mates were a bit more unknown in Hollywood at the time, Moranis was rather famous. After starring in Ghostbusters, his name attached to the project could draw in more audience members. But unfortunately, his vision for the role was like something that “would have been airlifted from a completely different movie.”


Molly Ringwald Opens up About Her ‘Mad Crush’ on John Hughes

According to Gorah’s book, 

“Rick Moranis, then a major comedy star, was cast in the role. He wanted to play Carl for laughs, as a Ukrainian with gold teeth, an odd hat, and a heavy accent. Actor John Kapelos, says, ‘Rick sort of played the character with a huge wad of keys between his legs. Sort of an SCTV type of Russian character.’ John would say to him, ‘Well, but did you read the script?’”

Because Moranis refused to play the role with depth, Hughes fired him and replaced the actor with Kapelos.