Here are some bonus thoughts and stories about John Hughes that didn’t make it into my V.F. feature on the man, “Sweet Bard of Youth,”—courtesy of the stars of his celebrated teen films of the 1980s. Plus: A selection of short stories by Hughes and photographs of items in his archives.

FEBRUARY 10, 2010

Molly Ringwald, star of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.

Anthony Michael Hall, star of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science.

Matthew Broderick, star of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Edie McClurg, character actress in six Hughes movies; best known as Grace, the school secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Of

On getting to know Hughes:

Ringwald: I remember the first thing that I saw of him—I didn’t know what he looked like; I didn’t know anything—were his tennis shoes. He was really into sneakers. It was not what I really thought of as a film director. His hair was spiky. He looked kind of relatable to me.

Broderick: He had his own cool. He was not a nerd. He had cool glasses, a cool haircut—well, it might not look so good now.

McClurg: That hairdo he had, the mullet? He did it ‘cause it kept him young. I just thought that was really kind of sweet!

Ringwald: Every director I had worked with up to that point was significantly older. I didn’t expect anybody that was sort of young and cool, like him. John definitely didn’t feel like a parent to me. He rarely ever felt like an authority figure. But I wouldn’t say, exactly, that he felt like he was the same age, either. I feel like he was different than anybody else in my life, before or since. I feel like we sort of mutually idealized each other from the get-go.

Broderick: Molly was much younger than me; I felt much more old and rotten than her. My soul had already been seen into by Neil Simon and Harvey Fierstein. [Broderick had appeared onstage in New York in the former’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and the latter’s Torch Song Trilogy.] So I didn’t need a mentor. However, in some unconscious way, I do think that John saw into me. I mean, the way that movie has held on, and the fact that I am called Ferris Bueller very often when I walk on the streets—or if, God forbid, I go to a baseball game.

Hall: Though I’d been in Vacation, I didn’t meet John until the auditions for Sixteen Candles. Those were on 57th Street and Park Avenue, at Universal’s New York offices. I think that what he saw in me maybe was something of himself—that I was a funny kid. I remember thinking “This script is so cool and funny!” With every successive audition or callback, there were more executives in the room. Then they’d start pairing us—me, with, you know, Haviland Morris, who played Jake’s girlfriend. I could sense, “I must be getting this part!” I was a little dull then: “After seven or eight auditions, I think I should have this wrapped up!”

On making movies with Hughes, and his embrace of actor input:

Hall: Cut to the experience of making Sixteen Candles. It was beautiful. We went on location in Skokie, Illinois. Suddenly I’m plopped down in the Midwest with my aunt, who was my guardian; my mother was working back in New York. From the very beginning, it was magical. The whole experience of making those films transcended even what they mean to people.

Ringwald: If you wanted to change something or make it your own, John completely encouraged it. Subsequently, when I’ve worked with other writer-directors, they get so precious about every single line, you can’t change anything. There was none of that with John—he was so free.

Hall: For example, there’s a line I wrote in Breakfast Club, where I’m asked why I would get a fake ID. I say, “So I can vote!” I made that up.

McClurg: We went through that line about how popular Ferris was—“The sportos and motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads … They all adore him! He’s a righteous dude!” The “righteous dude” line was mine, added in the audition.

Hall: The word “dweebie”? Gotta credit Judd Nelson for that. I was on the Breakfast Club set when he ad-libbed that. I think Judd’s responsible for that being part of our vernacular: him yelling, “You’re a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie!” I remember John laughing.

Broderick: It was extremely pleasing to make John laugh. He had a quiet, very real, uncontrollable laugh: an eyes-closed, head-half-down, bent-over-quiet thing.

McClurg: My character in Ferris Bueller was a woman who’s a secretary in the high school. This is in the 80s. So I decided that maybe my hairdo would be 60s, because Grace felt she looked best in the 60s and kept her look from that era. So I went into hair and makeup in the morning and said, “I’d like a big bubble hairdo.” They had hired a guy who I think was Mia Sara’s blowout guy. He didn’t know anything about setting hair. So I said, “I’ll just do it myself.” I just teased it up, all the way out, sprayed it, and then gave it a big bubble.

I arrived on the set with this hairdo. And John looked at me and said, “How many pencils do you think you can fit in that hair?” I said, “I don’t know. Let’s see!” So we put one in. I looked down; nothing came out. I put another one in. I looked down; nothing came out. And the third; nothing came out. Fourth: then it finally dropped. I said, “I can hold three.” He said, “O.K., let’s start that way.” And that’s my intro in the film.

Broderick: Ferris’s singing “Danke Schoen” in the shower was my idea, I think. Although it’s only because of the brilliance of John’s deciding that I should sing “Danke Schoen” on the float in the parade. I had never heard the song before. I was learning it for the parade scene. So we’re doing the shower scene and I thought, “Well, I can do a little rehearsal.” And I did something with my hair to make that Mohawk. And you know what good directors do: they say, “Stop! Wait till we roll.” And John put that stuff in.

McClurg: John encouraged me to improvise. In Planes, Trains & Automobiles, I do that scene at the rental-car counter with Steve Martin, where I’m talking on the phone and putting up my finger, making him wait longer. John said, “Talk about Thanksgiving.” So I said, [singsongy midwestern accent] “Well, you know, we’re gonna get Mom up so she can get the turkey on!” And then I put in: “We gotta keep Uncle Billy away from the bourbon and ginger, or he’s gonna get into the virgin birth with Father, and we can’t have that.” Now, John was Protestant, so he didn’t understand how funny that was to Catholics. He cut that part out.

On Hughes’s love of music:

Ringwald: Music played a huge part in his life and a huge part on the soundtracks of his movies. And I really loved music as well. It wasn’t just him making mix tapes for me; I made mix tapes for him, too. One of my favorite things to do when I was doing movies in Chicago would be to go to his office at his house and go through his record collection. He just had masses and masses of records and all this incredible equipment. Things like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan—that was all introduced to me by John.

Hall: In his house, he had a room with rows of 12-inches everywhere, stacked like a mom-and-pop record store. Literally thousands of albums, with just a little path to the door.

Broderick: He would take you into this room with a beautiful stereo and a TV that, for the time, was really fancy. I remember that he had the stereo components built into the wall. I was like [impressionable-teen voice], “Wow! How do they make a hole in the wall where that fit in?!”

Hall: There’s a scene in The Breakfast Club between the principal and the janitor, Paul Gleason and John Kapelos, where one asks, “Who’d you want to be when you grow up?” and the other says, “John Lennon.” I think that was really John to some extent. He was such a Beatles fan.

Ringwald: When The Breakfast Club ended, he started writing a script called Lovecats, because I played him that song by the Cure, “The Lovecats.” I was obsessed by the Cure—still am. I think Robert Smith is an underrated songwriter. Anyway, I played this song for John, and he started writing a script, and he gave me a mix tape of what the soundtrack was gonna be. Which was pretty much Dave Brubeck, with the last song by Bob Dylan.

Hall: At one point when we were doing The Breakfast Club, John had an idea for a movie called The Last Good Year. It was something that he pitched to me as something he wanted to do with me, about the last good year being 1962, before the Beatles’ invasion. Maybe it was a sarcastic title. The idea was, I think, that the cultural shift was significant to him—the crossover in time from Pat Boone America to Beatles America. He didn’t have too many of the story elements worked out, but, man, did he have a mix tape put together.

On life after Hughes:

Hall: When I was doing Weird Science, I got a call from my agent on a Wednesday, saying, “Stanley Kubrick is interested in you for a role in his Vietnam drama that he’s doing, Full Metal Jacket.” Got a call back on a Friday saying, “Well, now he wants you for the lead, as Private Joker. He’s gonna call you tomorrow.”

All I can compare this to is waiting for Oz to call. The stories preceded him: his privacy, living in London, sort of extricating himself from Hollywood, all that shit. I was shaking in my boots. The phone rings. Stanley Kubrick gets on and says, “I want you to know: I just screened Sixteen Candles three times … and you’re my favorite actor since I saw Jack in Easy Rider!” I’m like, “Whaaa? Am I fucking hearing this?”

The long and short of it was, it was such a drawn-out, wild process of negotiating with Kubrick, via his attorneys, that it had a real effect on my family. [Hall ultimately withdrew from the negotiations.] But my point in telling this story is, had I not had this collaboration with this great guy, I never would have gotten that call from Kubrick. I received the greatest compliment of my life, and I owe that to John Hughes.

Ringwald: John really idealized me. I don’t know if I ever would have been able to do an adult movie with him. I just wish that I could have sort of gotten through to him more. I feel like he didn’t know how much I valued him: as a person, as this incredible force in my life. I think we would have gotten along so well as adults. Part of this is my fault; I feel like I should have followed up with him more.

Hall: I had done the three films with him, and I felt like I wanted to grow: you know, the mind-set of an 18-year-old kid. I didn’t know what it was all about yet. Maybe that was something he never forgave me for.

I never knew why we weren’t able to reconnect. I did this TV film about 10 years ago where I played Bill Gates [the 1999 movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, also starring Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs], and I wanted to invite him to a screening in Chicago; I wanted to get together with him. I left messages numerous times with his company, to no avail.

Ringwald: I always thought that we would have some sort of follow-up discussion or something. And that’s one of the reasons his death was so painful to me, because that didn’t happen. I’m really grateful that I did write him this letter [in 1994, when Ringwald was living in Paris], and that he did receive it. He sent a note and flowers, so that was something. The flowers were so John, so over-the-top. Huge.

Broderick: We did stay in touch for a while. We thought about a sequel to Ferris Bueller, where he’d be in college or at his first job, and the same kinds of things would happen again. But neither of us found a very exciting hook to that. The movie is about a singular time in your life.

There was no falling-out with us, no fight. He just … stopped being around, is the best way I can describe it. There were a couple of “almost” things. I almost did another script he wrote, which I now regret. But he was very easy to talk to for an hour and a half on the phone, even if you had not spoken in three years.

On Hughes’s death last August:

Hall: A lot happened to me last summer. My own father died on June 14. And then John. It connects to a thought I had about my father for years. It’s like, sometimes, people’s silence—their distance—is their gift to you, in a way. John, whatever his reasons were—none of us know, really. I only ever met my father once. But it was the same thing: why would he abandon all these people? I don’t know. Maybe I used it as some sort of psychological justification for not knowing him: someone’s absence is their gift to you.

Ringwald: I had just had my twins, on July 10. I think somebody sent me a text or something, and it said, “I’m so sorry about John Hughes.” Immediately, I Googled “John Hughes” and found out that he had died. I was kind of in shock. I’m still kind of in shock about it. I mean, I feel like I’ve made my peace with him, but [beginning to cry] … but it does made me really sad.

Broderick: When he died, I had a horrible feeling of a punch in the gut, even though I hadn’t seen him in so long. Because it was a large part of me, or my life, that was gone.

I saw John’s family at the funeral. My impression was not of somebody who withdrew from Hollywood or thought, “O.K., you don’t want me.” It wasn’t like an exile. It looked more like a very full life that he loved, a whole full second act that I didn’t know anything about—it’s the life that Ferris Bueller’s parents have, in a way. He had to sort of return to who he was, which was a guy from a well-to-do suburban neighborhood in Chicago.

David Kamp is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

After a wildly prolific decade of screenwriting and directing that made him the king of teen comedy, John Hughes receded from the cinematic landscape, his legend preserved by the classic 80s trilogy of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Following Hughes’s sudden death, at age 59, last summer, the author delves into his intense connections and sudden breaks with his Brat Pack actors, as well as the essential anomaly of his brief Hollywood reign.

John Hughes never stopped writing. He was notorious for this trait, especially in the 1980s, when he churned out screenplays faster than Hollywood could make them into movies. The script for Sixteen Candles came forth in a two-day burst during the 1983 preparations for The Breakfast Club, so impressing his studio overseers that it jumped the line to become Hughes’s directorial debut, in 1984. By 1987, the year of Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Hughes had already written and directed the “teen trilogy” for which he would be most celebrated—Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—as well as a lesser teen comedy, Weird Science, and the movie that would actually come after Planes, Trains & Automobiles on the release schedule, the expressly post-teen She’s Having a Baby. Somewhere in this time, he had also managed to write a further two teen pictures, Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful, that were off-loaded to another director.

Writing was, for Hughes, not so much a profession as a condition of life. The thoughts that germinated in his brain took a direct path to his hands, which filled notebooks, floppy disks, and hard drives with screenplays, stories, sketches, and jokes. When he wasn’t writing creatively, he was writing about how much writing he was doing. A spiral-bound logbook from 1985 finds Hughes keeping track of his progress on Ferris Bueller. The basic story line, he notes, was developed on February 25. It was successfully pitched the following day. And then he was off: “2-26 Night only 10 pages . . . 2-27 26 pages . . . 2-28 19 pages . . . 3-1 9 pages . . . 3-2 20 pages . . . 3-3 24 pages.” Wham-bam, script done. All in one week.

In recent years, as he withdrew from filmmaking and ceased to maintain any sort of public profile, an air of mystery came to surround Hughes. He had been such a force; what had happened to him? He last directed a movie in 1991—the forgettable Curly Sue—and by the dawn of this century he was no longer sending new screenplays to the studios, though any studio would have been glad to have him.

Yet, in his absence, Hughes’s cultural stock only appreciated. His best movies, the teen trilogy in particular, transcended their origins as light 1980s entertainments to become, first, lodestars for such developing talents as Judd Apatow and Wes Anderson, and then, as these pictures proved their durability on TV broadcasts and DVD, outright classics. It was remarkable enough that a baby-boomer born squarely in the middle of the 20th century had somehow laid claim to the title of Teen Laureate of the 1980s; more remarkable still was that his movies turned out to be a renewable resource, with a reach far beyond the generation for which they were originally intended.

So when Hughes died suddenly of a heart attack while out walking in New York City last August, at only 59 years of age, it wasn’t just the 25th-reunion crowd that fell into mourning and remembrance but nearly the whole of movie-watching America. Duly and fondly recalled were the tragicomic romantic trials of the coltish young Molly Ringwald; the jittery patter of gangly Anthony Michael Hall; the stalking menace and flared nostrils of moody Judd Nelson; and the fictional community that their characters inhabited, Shermer, Illinois, which was at once an Everytown for every teen and an explicit homage to Hughes’s home turf, the North Shore suburbs above Chicago. And again the question arose: What had happened to Hughes—where had he gone, and what had he been up to?

The answer, to some degree, lay in the wisdom of Ferris Bueller, who, as played by Matthew Broderick, delivered the most epigrammatic of Hughes-isms: “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

At some point, Hughes stopped and looked around, and he realized that he didn’t want to make movies anymore. He wanted to be at liberty to spend as much time with his family as he pleased, to work the farm he owned 75 miles northwest of Chicago, and to exult in the resolutely uncoastal ethos of his beloved Midwest. And by 1990, with the release of his highest-grossing movie, the Macaulay Culkin sado-slapstick comedy Home Alone, which Hughes wrote and produced but did not direct, he had the means to put Hollywood and the movies behind him.

For all his success in pictures, Hughes’s directing years turned out to be an aberration in his life—a shortish stretch that required him to do uncharacteristic things like be in L.A. and keep the company of actors. The one normal aspect of this period for him, consistent with the rest of his life, was the compulsive writing. It was a habit that dated back, appropriately enough, to his teen days. “You know that assignment you always get in high school when you’re reading Walden, to keep a journal?” he said in a 1988 interview. “Well, I just kept doing that.”

300 Notebooks
Last autumn, I met with Hughes’s two sons, John III and James, to discuss their father, his movies, and his post-filmmaking afterlife. We convened at a hotel in Lake Forest, Illinois, not far from their parents’ home. The brothers, born in 1976 and 1979, respectively, explained that their mother, Nancy, was still too grief-stricken to join us, though she had given them her blessing to talk. John III is a musician and producer who owns an independent record label in Chicago. He is married and the father of three young children. James, who until recently was based in New York, is a writer and the managing editor of an independent cultural magazine called Stop Smiling. He is married and became a father for the first time last June. It was during Hughes’s second trip to visit his new grandson that he suffered his fatal heart attack. James and his wife are now in the process of relocating to Chicago.

Among the first things John and James showed me was a little red Moleskine pocket notebook, three and a half by five and a half inches in size. Each page within was covered in their father’s neat, extraordinarily tiny handwriting—the cursive equivalent of three-point type. In his later years, Hughes never went anywhere without one of these notebooks on his person, the better to record anything that popped into his head at any time he wished: observations, incidents, editorials, inventories, theories, vignettes, overheard conversations. Sometimes his thoughts erupted into drawings: densely crosshatched caricatures of real-life figures such as Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor, or wiggy flights of fancy that variously evoked the styles of Saul Steinberg, Gahan Wilson, and R. Crumb.

“This is extremely representative of what he was like in recent years,” James Hughes said. “Where you have the Smythson of Bond Street attaché case with multiple Moleskines within, and the Pentel fine-art pens he used.”

John and James have found, so far, more than 300 pocket notebooks among their father’s effects (some Moleskines, others Smythsons), and these are but a drop in the bucket of what Hughes left behind: archival papers, old correspondence, personal journals, thick binders containing works in progress, and gigabyte upon gigabyte of computer files.

Going through all this material, said John III, has been “as comforting as it is horribly sad.” The brothers had also discovered a cache of letters that Hughes had prepared for each of his four grandchildren, to be opened and read when they’d reached certain ages. Even James’s little boy, eight weeks old at the time of his grandfather’s death, has a stack of letters awaiting him.

Hughes, his sons say, reveled in grandfatherhood; he relished the concept of growing old and shifting into the role of eccentric paterfamilias. Whereas, in the 80s, he had hewed faithfully to the fashion conventions of the time, collecting expensive basketball shoes and wearing his hair in a rococo power mullet, in his last decade he pointedly dressed in a suit nearly every day, favoring Brooks Brothers and the custom tailor Henry Poole of Savile Row. “I think it bothered him that people his same age, of similar means, were wearing sweat suits and Twittering,” said James. Though he still kept up with new music—Hughes had been a legendarily voracious record buyer in the old days, admired by rock snobs for the acuity of his soundtrack picks—he now viewed it as his primary duty to be, in his younger son’s words, “the curious, engaged grandpa in the seersucker.”

The creative writing he continued to do was, therefore, not necessarily for public consumption. In recent years, he worked in a variety of formats: memoir, short fiction, and, yes, screenplays. But he was content, John III said, to “pump the stuff out for his own satisfaction, comfortable with it never going anywhere.” He’d had his say, and it was time for others to have theirs.

This mind-set was, as contradictory as it may sound, consistent with the one that led Hughes to become the sympathetic voice of teendom in the 1980s. One of his major hobbyhorses—“a constant topic,” in James’s words—was the attention-hogging egotism of his own generation, the baby-boomers. In his view, the boomers did not know when to step aside and cede the stage. “He was kind of upset not to see more people of his generation passing the baton,” John III said. “He wanted to give youth a voice.”

Avatars and Surrogates
Hughes’s own youth has been the subject of much speculation. He was so expert at delineating archetypes—“You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal,” as Anthony Michael Hall’s voice-over letter to the mean principal goes in The Breakfast Club—that viewers have naturally been moved to wonder which type represented the author himself.

In an op-ed piece published in The New York Times six days after Hughes’s death, Molly Ringwald speculated that she and Hall, both of whom appeared in three Hughes-written teen films, were his avatars, “acting out the different parts of his life—improving upon it, perhaps.” Ringwald specialized in playing the sensitive, conflicted, sexually naïve, deeply romantic ingénue who kept posters of alt-rock bands on her walls. Hall was impressively resourceful in playing three distinct iterations of the common geek. So that would have made the teenage Hughes a kind of geek romantic outsider, right?

But then, the DVD commentary for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off features a telling interview from 1986, the year of the film’s release, in which Hughes describes the dynamic among the consummate winner Ferris, his beautiful girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara), and Ferris’s sad-sack best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck), as “this classic third-wheel situation, which I was always in.” You expect Hughes, whose lanky build and soft features weren’t a world away from Ruck’s, to cop to being the third wheel. But what he proceeds to say is “I always had my girlfriend … and some guy in the backseat saying [dopey voice], ‘What’re we doin’?’” Wait! Hughes was the popular kid?

“When you know a little bit about John’s history with Nancy—they met in high school. He was a penguin that mated for life, and so was Ferris,” says Broderick, who, naturally, thinks his character is the most ready stand-in for Hughes.

The truth is that Ringwald, Hall, and Broderick—and Ruck—were all Hughes’s surrogates: refractions and distillations of various parts of a very complex character. Throughout his life, Hughes was at once an old kid and a young fogy. He was a child of the 60s who got married while barely out of his teens; a stolid adman who mischievously and semi-surreptitiously moonlighted as a humor writer; and a homebody midwestern dad who effectively created the Hollywood clique that came to be known as the Brat Pack.

The Holy Grail of Humor
John Hughes spent the first 12 years of his life in the affluent Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. (He adored the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, in particular its Hall of Fame right wing Gordie Howe, which is why Ruck’s Cameron, a Chicago-area rich kid, incongruously wears a red howe jersey throughout Ferris Bueller.) Though these were the boom years of the American automotive industry, the Hugheses barely clung to middle-class status. Hughes’s father, also named John Hughes, held a variety of salesman jobs to support his wife and four children. The younger John was the second eldest and the only boy.

In 1962 the family moved to Northbrook, Illinois, where Hughes’s father found work selling roofing materials. Again, the Hugheses didn’t fit the wealthy-commuter profile that their town’s name conjured, creating a seam of class anxiety that Hughes would later mine for Pretty in Pink, in which Ringwald’s proletarian character, Andie, struggles with her feelings for a country-club suitor named Blane (Andrew McCarthy).

Hughes turned 17 in 1967, the year that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out—perfect boomer timing. He was sufficiently a child of his generation to go Beatles-mad and dress up in imitation of them, pulling together a mod wardrobe that drew quizzical stares in Northbrook. But he was also enough of a romantic and an old-fashioned traditionalist to fall hard that very year for a girl he met while painting homecoming murals: a pretty blonde senior at Glenbrook North High named Nancy Ludwig.

In 1970, when he was 20 and she was 19, John and Nancy did something very counter-countercultural: they got married and settled down. Though Hughes was, at this point, a college dropout, having left the University of Arizona after two years, he was not of the turn-on, tune-in tribe. Rather, he applied himself to scratching out an honest living, juggling jobs at various factories and a printing lab—all the while trying to gain a toehold, somewhere, as a writer. In the early years of his married life, this ambition took the form of his submitting jokes to the big comedians of the time: Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers.

In Hughesian fashion, he was relentless, serially pestering the comics with sheaves of gags, neatly typed up on onionskin paper. He tailored his jokes for each comedian’s voice—e.g., for Dangerfield, “I know a guy who’s so kosher he wouldn’t let his son join the ham-radio club,” and for Diller, “My husband thinks my measurements are 34-26-34-hike!” For a nonentity, Hughes did reasonably well as a freelance gagman, making the occasional sale and hearing some of his one-liners get airings on The Tonight Show. But with the going rate somewhere between $5 and $10 a gag, it was no way to make a living.

Yet the joke sheets proved an effective calling card to the advertising world. Hughes used them to hustle his way into an entry-level job at Needham, Harper & Steers, and then, in 1974, a better job at the most prestigious of the Chicago-based ad agencies, Leo Burnett.

At Burnett, he fell under the supervision of Rob Nolan, a creative director who quickly realized he had a wunderkind on his hands. “There was no low level of John that I can remember,” Nolan says. “He was constantly beating away at the typewriter, fueled by coffee and cigarettes.” Hughes flourished, working on dozens of accounts and creating two enduring campaigns: the Edge credit-card test, in which an actor demonstrated the close shave he got from Edge shaving gel by scraping a charge card against his smooth cheek, and the Sugar Corn Pops spots for Kellogg’s that featured Big Yella, a pint-size cartoon cowboy.

Nolan gained such confidence in his charge that he entrusted him with the Virginia Slims account, a plum job that entailed regular trips to the New York City headquarters of the cigarette-maker’s corporate parent, Philip Morris. To Hughes, the main benefit of these trips was that he got the opportunity to hang around the offices of his dream workplace, National Lampoon. He had already managed to get a few humor pieces published in Playboy, but the Lampoon was, in the late 70s, the holy grail for aspiring print humorists. Soon enough, he insinuated himself into its pages, finding a kindred spirit in P. J. O’Rourke, the magazine’s managing editor.

O’Rourke had been toying with the idea of doing an elaborate parody of a Sunday newspaper in a mid-market midwestern city. He had already dreamed up a fictionalized version of his native Toledo called Dacron, Ohio, and the paper was to be called The Dacron Republican-Democrat. “John got it right away,” O’Rourke says, “because John created worlds. He was creative in the most fundamental, Genesis-ian sense of the word.”

The O’Rourke-Hughes collaboration—a convergence of the former’s Dacron and the latter’s nascent imaginary Shermer—yielded 1978’s landmark National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody, which came complete with comics, a magazine supplement, a color ad circular (from a discount store named Swillmart, “Where Quality Is a Slogan”), and fully fleshed-out sections for sports, arts, style, and travel.

Nolan was not oblivious to Hughes’s growing Lampoon workload. The two men hit upon an agreement: Hughes could take mornings to do whatever personal work he wanted, as long as he got his Burnett work done in the afternoon. Still, Hughes felt an ever stronger pull toward the Lampoon, and later admitted to Nolan that he sometimes flew to New York and back on the same day, entirely on Lampoon business, without his overseer’s knowledge—taking care (shades of Ferris Bueller) to leave a full coffee cup on his desk to create the illusion that he’d just stepped out to the bathroom.

In 1979, O’Rourke finally persuaded Hughes to give up his life in advertising. But even the Lampoon, it soon became apparent, was just another way station until the big time beckoned. Hughes never bothered to relocate his family to New York—a place he dismissed, O’Rourke recalls, as “a great city if you cleaned it up and moved everything back 10 feet.” Hughes’s hiring coincided with the moment when the Lampoon was riding high on the surprise success of its first film project, Animal House, and, as O’Rourke says, “everyone suddenly found themselves with an opportunity to pitch a movie. John was the one who took it seriously and had the vocabulary for it.”

Creating “Shermer”
Hughes’s proficiency didn’t translate immediately into screenwriting success. He was a writer on Animal House’s wan, short-lived TV spin-off, Delta House, and saw a variety of projects fall apart. His first writing credit on a feature film was for the Lampoon’s abysmal follow-up to Animal House, a horror-movie spoof called Class Reunion.

Then, unbeknownst to Hughes, Warner Bros. bought the rights to “Vacation ’58,” a short story he had written for the Lampoon in 1979, about a family’s disastrous cross-country drive from Detroit to Disneyland. Matty Simmons, the magazine’s publisher, invited Hughes to adapt his own story for the screen.

Vacation, directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase, became one of two breakthrough hits for Hughes in the summer of ’83. The other was the Michael Keaton movie Mr. Mom, his first effort out from under the Lampoon imprimatur. Yet Hughes had not particularly enjoyed these filmmaking experiences. As a control freak who had grown accustomed to micro-managing every aspect of his advertising and print work, he was eager to direct his own scripts—and to exercise his Genesis-ian creativity to the fullest. Enter the populous, teen-infested suburb of Shermer.

Until 1923, the village of Northbrook was known as Shermerville. Hughes’s Shermer was partly Northbrook and partly a composite of all the North Shore’s towns and neighborhoods—and, by extension, all the different milieus that existed in American suburbia. In Hughes’s mind, he would later say, Molly Ringwald’s upper-middle-class character in Sixteen Candles, Samantha, was a passing acquaintance of Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller, while Judd Nelson’s troubled Breakfast Club punk, Bender, came from the same forlorn section of town as Del Griffith, the hard-knock but relentlessly upbeat shower-curtain-ring salesman played by John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

As he found his footing as a screenwriter, Hughes dipped into these milieus with an adman’s concision. Each of the teen-trilogy pictures takes place within a short time frame: Sixteen Candles over the course of a weekend; The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off over a matter of hours. This wasn’t the narrow focus of a regional indie miniaturist but that of a big-idea guy looking for concentrated impact. “John liked a big canvas,” Broderick says. “He wasn’t going for the slice-of-life approach.”

And Hughes wanted the teen pictures to convey a sort of universal truth: that no age group takes itself more seriously than teenagers. “At that age,” he said, “it feels as good to feel bad as it does to feel good.” Every day has the potential to be the worst day ever, like Samantha’s 16th birthday, or the best, like the day Ferris spends playing hooky.

The first of the Shermer-teen scripts was the least jocular. It was called Detention. For Hughes, it was a mission as much as it was a movie. By dint of having gotten married so young, he and Nancy had spent the early years of their marriage in an unusual circumstance: they were closer in age to their teen neighbors than to the homeowning parents of those teens. “I saw how their lives at 14 and 15 were different than mine had been,” Hughes said in one of his last long interviews, for Sean M. Smith’s authoritative oral history of The Breakfast Club, in the December 1999 issue of Premiere. “My generation had sucked up so much attention,” Hughes said, “and here were these kids struggling for an identity. They were forgotten.”

In 1982, before Vacation and Mr. Mom had lent him any Hollywood clout, Hughes made a small-time deal with A&M Films to direct his Detention script, which concerned five kids from five different social groups who are confined to the library of Shermer High for a single Saturday. (The project took on the title The Breakfast Club after Hughes picked up the phrase from a friend’s teenage son. “It actually referred to morning Detention, not Saturday Detention, but I figured no one would call me on it,” he said.) The budget was $1 million, minuscule even in those days. But Hughes soon became “antsy,” he recalled, about debuting with a potentially uncommercial chamber piece whose failure could spell career doom. So he set to work on a more lighthearted story about a Shermer girl whose family, in the fevered run-up to her older sister’s wedding, forgets all about her 16th birthday.

Sixteen Candles was promptly optioned in 1983 by Ned Tanen, the former president of Universal Pictures, who had just left the studio to set up an independent company, Channel Productions. In his tenure at Universal, Tanen had shepherded several youth-oriented movies into existence, among them American Graffiti, Animal House, and, just the year before, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the work of a first-time screenwriter (Cameron Crowe) and a first-time director (Amy Heckerling). He was willing to take a similar chance on Hughes, and agreed to adopt The Breakfast Club project as well—provided Hughes made Sixteen Candles first.

Molly as Muse
As the story goes, commercial considerations weren’t the only impetus for Hughes’s writing Sixteen Candles. While leafing through headshots in search of potential Breakfast Club cast members, he froze upon the glossy of a pale-skinned young actress with red hair and puffy, tired eyes—pretty, but not conventionally so.

“From what I heard from him,” says Ringwald, “he put my headshot on the bulletin board by his desk and wrote Sixteen Candles over a weekend. And when it came time to cast it, he said, ‘I want to meet her: that girl.’”

Ringwald, 15 years old in 1983, had just appeared in Tempest, Paul Mazursky’s modern-dress re-write of William Shakespeare’s final play. Compared with the old pro Mazursky, the 33-year-old Hughes was from another planet: youthful and spiky-haired, with an unlined face, circular-lens eyeglasses, and the latest in fresh Nike high-tops—“Not what I really thought of as a film director,” Ringwald says. But she left her first meeting with Hughes excited. There was no audition. Ringwald and Hughes simply talked—Hughes confirming his hunch that she was the right girl to play Samantha, Ringwald bowled over by his interest and believing it Kismet that they shared a birthday, February 18. “I feel like we sort of mutually idealized each other from the get-go,” she says.

Sixteen Candles is constructed as a love triangle of sorts, with Samantha, a sophomore, pining for a handsome, remote senior named Jake, while a pesky freshman—known alternately as the Geek or Farmer Ted—indefatigably pursues her. For Jake, Hughes cast a chiseled Bruce Weber model named Michael Schoeffling, whose dreamy looks and shy demeanor were just right for the character, a rich jock too kind and sensitive to fulfill his socially prescribed duty to be an arrogant misogynist. For the Geek, Hughes remembered the child actor who had played the Chevy Chase character’s son in Vacation, Anthony Michael Hall: a little blond Puck with inborn comic timing.

Hall, like Ringwald, turned 15 the year Sixteen Candles was made, though he was still downright fetal in appearance: wavy hair and big eyes atop a head and body that were waiting in vain to fill out. The big joke of the Geek character is that his physical immaturity and obvious sexual inexperience don’t prevent him from playing the suave lover man and brash ringleader of a passel of nerd underclassmen—“the king of the dipshits,” as he confesses to Samantha when they finally lower their guards and have a heart-to-heart in the auto shop of Shermer High while a dance goes on in the gym. (The movie was shot in and around Skokie, Illinois, with the school scenes filmed in a defunct high school, Niles East.)

The auto-shop scene has come to be celebrated for its heart and authenticity, and Ringwald and Hall sensed its specialness even as they filmed it, not least for the way Hughes trusted them to add their own flourishes—for example, Ringwald’s suggestion that the Geek apologize for having been such a “poozer” on the bus (a word she appropriated from Dr. Seuss’s I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew), and the desperate body language Hall brought to the Geek’s last-ditch attempts to make out with Samantha, swinging his whole right leg around her spasmodically, as if trying to experience as much surface area of real girl as possible.

“It was evident to me soon after meeting John that he was very collaborative,” says Hall, who, at 41, finally has filled out. (He now looks like Steve McQueen circa Bullitt.) “He obviously had a knack for dialogue, but he was never precious or uptight about me changing anything. It was so empowering: here I was, a 15-year-old still in puberty!”

Sixteen Candles was not without its broad, farcical crudities and nods to Hughes’s baser Lampoon-ish instincts: a gratuitous boob scene, a bunch of characters presented as tissue-thin grotesques (Samantha’s four querulous grandparents, her sister’s mafiosi future in-laws), and the vaudevillian-throwback character Long Duk Dong, who was putatively a Chinese exchange student but was played by a Japanese-American actor (Gedde Watanabe), assigned a line of Japanese dialogue (“Banzai!”), and given a vaguely Vietnamese, vaguely phallic name that, every time it was uttered, was accompanied by the sounding of (oh, dear) a gong.

But Hughes’s work with Ringwald and Hall transcended all that. Pauline Kael, The New Yorker’s tough-cookie film writer, devoted a lot of space to Sixteen Candles and its juvenile stars in her May 28, 1984, “Current Cinema” column, commending the movie for being “less raucous in tone than most of the recent teen pictures; it’s closer to the gentle English comedies of the forties and fifties.” She was enchanted by Ringwald’s “offbeat candor,” and relished Hall’s leering attempt to smile sexily through braces (“pure weirdness”) and the way the actor “moves like Steve Martin, and even more confidently.”

The movie’s box-office performance fell short of Universal’s expectations. But Hughes had forged a tight bond with Ringwald and Hall, both of whom were carried over into his next project, The Breakfast Club. This meant more time on location in the Chicago area; the library that served as the movie’s primary location was actually a set constructed inside the gymnasium of yet another abandoned suburban high school, Maine North, in Des Plaines. Ringwald and Hall would be joined by three other young actors, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson. But, says Ringwald, she and Hall “were sort of viewed as the teacher’s pets. John would take us to concerts and invite us to his house.”

Ringwald, at 16, now found herself playing the heady role of artist’s muse. She and Hughes fell into marathon bull sessions about life, their feelings, and, especially, music. Hughes introduced Ringwald to Chicago blues—taking her to hear Koko Taylor and Junior Wells sing at Kingston Mines, the North Side blues club—and educated her in the ways of his beloved Beatles. Ringwald, for her part, found common ground with Hughes in their shared taste for British-import pop. A California girl, she gushed to Hughes about the postpunk and New Wave music that she heard on KROQ, the Anglophilic L.A. station to which she was devoted. Pretty in Pink, she says, was written for her after she played Hughes the Psychedelic Furs song of that title.

Hall’s relationship with Hughes was less intense than Ringwald’s but more familial. The Hugheses had by then bought a large two-story Colonial in the village of Northfield, Northbrook’s smaller, posher neighbor. Hall, a child of divorce, slept over at the Hugheses’ on weekends and reveled in the warmth and nuclear-family normalcy of the home that John and Nancy had created. “I became their third son, in a way,” he says.

“Seemed Like One of Us”
Hughes gave his young Breakfast Club stars plenty of latitude to improvise with the cameras running. It was only a 32-day shoot, but he shot more than a million feet of film: par for the course for Martin Scorsese, but unheard of for a low-budget teen picture.

The teen-trilogy actors note that, unlike any other adult they knew, Hughes had ready and vivid access to his own adolescence and the feelings it engendered. His son John attributes this to “an insane memory that could really call back on that stuff,” but Hall wonders if, in fact, these childhood feelings were just barely latent—“whether John never grew up on the inside, on some level.”

For Ringwald, the sheer bliss of working with a director who “seemed like one of us” was sometimes offset by the discomfort of enduring Hughes’s very teen-like sulks. “He was so easily slighted and hurt,” she says. “He would always go to the place that somebody didn’t care about him.” She recalls a mortifying episode in which she extended a trip home to Los Angeles by one day to visit her gynecologist. At her age, she was too embarrassed to tell Hughes the reason for her extra day out West, “and John was sure that I was meeting with someone for another movie. He flipped out. He thought that I was not committed to him. And this was somebody who adored me. It was really terrifying.”

“You had to be careful with him,” says Broderick. “I remember him taking me to one location, the Art Institute, and him saying, ‘This is where you and Mia kiss.’ And I had not been reading the stage directions carefully, and I was like, ‘Oh, we kiss at the museum?’—something I thought was pretty innocent. But to him it meant that I was not prepared, and he took that as a personal affront, that I didn’t care about him: ‘O.K., so we won’t be friends. We’ll just do our work.’ But he also had the ability, by that evening, to take you to dinner with a bunch of people and tell you what a genius you were.”

rior to The Breakfast Club’s release, the executives at Universal were convinced they had a dud on their hands. But Hughes was the one whose instincts proved correct: the movie was an immediate hit in the winter of 1985.

As hoary as it sounds, The Breakfast Club spoke to a generation. The elements that grown-ups perceived as ponderous and risible were precisely what made the movie so real to teens: Nelson’s hoodlum, Bender, working himself into a paroxysmal lather while re-enacting a fight in his broken home (“Fuck you!” “No, Dad, what about you?!”); Sheedy’s loner goth-freak, Allison, emitting awkward squeaks and rustling dandruff from her hair to decorate a winter snowscape she was doodling; Estevez’s champion wrestler, Andrew, coming undone from his military bearing as he admits to hating his bullying father; Ringwald’s privileged priss, Claire, confessing her virginity under duress; and Hall’s fragile, scared math whiz, Brian, breaking down in tears as he confronts the high expectations placed upon him by his parents.

The Breakfast Club’s success had the further effect of casting Sixteen Candles in a new light, as Chapter One in the continuing oeuvre of the teen auteur John Hughes and his comely muse, Molly Ringwald. The following year, when Pretty in Pink came out, Ringwald landed on the cover of Time magazine.

“Hughes is 36, but he provides no adult’s-eye view of teen problems,” the accompanying article said. “Instead, he gets spookily in sync with the swooning narcissism of adolescence: that teachers are torturers, that parents are sweet but don’t quite understand, that friends and lovers are two distinct species. . . .”

Tucked away in the Time story, though, was an intriguing, unexplicated quotation from Ringwald. “I don’t really see him anymore,” she said of Hughes. “I still respect him a lot, and if he gave me a good script, I’d read it. But I don’t think we’ll work together again real soon.”

In fact, they didn’t work together ever again. The story behind Ringwald’s words, she says, is that she and Hughes had by then fallen out—or, at any rate, he had fallen out with her. Near the end of the filming of The Breakfast Club, she and Hall began dating. Both 16, they were by far the youngest cast members; Nelson, Estevez, and Sheedy were in their 20s. It wasn’t a shocker that two teenagers working together on two consecutive films would hook up, but, in Ringwald’s perception, their little romance upset Hughes. “He did not like it at all,” she says. She still doesn’t fully grasp why this was—perhaps because she and Hall had veered off script from the ordained narratives of their creator, creating a story line of their own?

Publicly, Hughes remained gracious, speaking complimentarily of her in the Time piece. But Ringwald was surprised when he deputized his protégé, Howard Deutch, to direct her in Pretty in Pink. And though Hughes spent time on that film’s set as its writer and executive producer, he rarely spoke to her. “It was very hurtful,” she says, “and it still hurts. I cared very, very deeply for him, and he had a huge impact on my life—not just in terms of my career but my development as a person, as a woman.”

Hall recalls no cross words with Hughes, about Ringwald or any other subject. Immediately after The Breakfast Club, he and Hughes happily made another film together, Weird Science—“a dopey-assed comedy,” in its creator’s estimation, but yet another chapter in what looked to be an enduring, fruitful collaboration. No less an authority than Stanley Kubrick compared the Hall-Hughes partnership to that of Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra. (Indeed, Hall was offered the lead part in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket before Matthew Modine, but withdrew from consideration after protracted negotiations between his camp and the director’s bogged down.)

But Hall, too, saw his relationship with Hughes come to an abrupt and puzzling end, at least in his eyes. It’s his belief that both the Duckie part in Pretty in Pink and the title part of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were conceived with him in mind. He suspects that he, like Ringwald, inadvertently poisoned the well with Hughes by expressing a desire to work with other filmmakers. After Weird Science, Hall simply couldn’t get Hughes on the phone anymore.

Around 15 years ago, Ringwald sought to reach out and smooth things over with Hughes. Living in Paris, she had been on a François Truffaut video kick, watching the series of films that the French director had made with the actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. Recognizing something of herself and Hughes in the Léaud-Truffaut collaboration, she was inspired to send Hughes a note saying how much he meant to her. A week later, she took delivery of an enormous bouquet of flowers: Hughes’s final communication to his former muse.

Escape from L.A.
By the time of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), in which his three truant protagonists gallivant merrily through Chicago, checking out Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower, the Art Institute, and a German-American parade going down Dearborn Street, Hughes was living in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. The movie might as well have been called John Hughes’s Homesickness Reverie.

Hughes had moved his family out West in 1984, when Universal insisted that he edit The Breakfast Club in L.A. Earlier that same year, before the studio’s edict, Hughes vented to Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times that its competitor, the Chicago Tribune, had referred to him, mistakenly, as a “former Chicagoan.”

“As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago,” Hughes said. “I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. In Hollywood, I’d be hanging around with a lot of people who don’t have to pay when they go to the movies.”

The California stay was supposed to be temporary, but one year turned into two, and then, ultimately, into four and a half. John and Nancy kept the house in Northfield so that the boys could enjoy a proper Christmas with snow and chill in the air—and, not so subconsciously, so that a ready escape hatch to sanity existed.

Hughes simply never took to L.A. His sojourn there, though it coincided with what was arguably his artistic peak, sowed the seeds for his post-filmmaking life. It made him realize what he did and didn’t value. He had no capacity or tolerance for industry schmoozing, no interest in keeping up with his young actors’ emerging Brat Pack party circuit. What did matter to him was his family.

Especially in his L.A. days, his sons say, their father got all the adult companionship he required from his film crews and the editors he worked with in postproduction, and otherwise maintained few close friendships. “I think he looked at family as a sort of wall,” John III says. “It gave him a sort of protection for not getting drawn out of the house. We were his social activity.” The Hughes home itself was a bustling, happy place, with an open-door policy for the boys’ friends and the actors Hughes liked—Broderick remembers dropping by often to use the pool—but beyond its warm confines, Hughes actively resisted being social.

One notable exception was the actor with whom he worked most regularly as he transitioned out of teen pictures: the reliably brilliant SCTV stalwart John Candy, the star of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), The Great Outdoors (1988), and Uncle Buck (1989). Candy, though he was from Toronto rather than Chicago, led a life similar to Hughes’s: big hockey fan, big family man, strong marriage, two young kids.

“Our families basically merged,” says Candy’s daughter, Jennifer. The Candys kept a farm in Queensville, Ontario, an hour north of Toronto, and regularly welcomed the Hugheses as guests. “A gentleman’s farm, a hundred-odd acres,” Jennifer says. “From that, John Hughes got the idea to have his farm, and he took it to the next level.”

In 1989, Hughes purchased the first parcel of what he would call Redwing Farms, in western Illinois near the Wisconsin border. It has grown to be more than a thousand acres in size. The farm allowed Hughes to exercise his Genesis-ian creativity in the most literal, biblical sense. Much of the land, when he acquired it, was barren. Hughes embarked on an ambitious plan to reforest it with indigenous trees and other plantings, undertaking thorough botanical and dendrological research to learn what the property would have been like pre-cultivation. With a team of landscapers and farmers, he also set up a section of the property as a refuge and working farmstead, growing crops, raising Devon cattle, and designing and planting elaborate hedgerows, the subject of much notebooking in his later years. It was his last big production.

There was no single triggering incident that compelled Hughes to pack it in as a filmmaker; the withdrawal was gradual. At the end of the 1980s, he gave up the Brentwood house and relocated to the Midwest for good, acquiring a new home in Lake Forest and setting up his company, Hughes Entertainment, on the former campus of New Trier West High School, in Northfield. He stopped directing after Curly Sue, limiting himself to screenwriting and producing, mostly on slick but superficial family entertainments, such as the cutesy dog movie Beethoven (1992) and the 1990s remakes of Miracle on 34th Street and 101 Dalmatians.

Hughes was shaken by John Candy’s sudden death, of a heart attack, in 1994. “He talked a lot about how much he loved Candy—if Candy had lived longer, I think John would have made more films as a director,” says the actor Vince Vaughn, a fellow Lake Forester and one of the few show-business people with whom Hughes was friends in recent years.

By the 2000s, his days as even a screenwriter were done. His compulsive writing remained constant, but it was directed away from movies and toward himself—and, sometimes, his family. “He was a relative latecomer to e-mail,” says James. “But I remember that, when he did get it, we were all like, ‘Oh, shit—here it comes.’” Hughes’s e-mails were thought avalanches, lavish interdisciplinary discourses on current events, political scandals, the Chicago Black Hawks, movies he’d watched on TCM, authors he’d seen on C-span’s Booknotes, the trees he was planting, the obscure hillbilly music he’d taken to compiling, and whatever else happened to be on his mind. “In his later years it was sort of his primary job, to ingest all this material and riff on it,” says James.

It wasn’t just e-mails either, but gab. “I’d go to his house at seven at night and not leave until seven the next morning,” says Vaughn. “We’d be literally engaged in conversation for 12 hours. About anything, but especially music. His knowledge of music was incredible.”

Indeed, apart from farming, music was Hughes’s most consuming passion. It pained him that he was so identified with the 80s alterna-pop of his teen films, since that music represented but a thimbleful of the many genres and idioms he enjoyed. His iTunes library filled several hard drives, and he planned the playlists for his sons’ weddings as carefully as he had the soundtracks for his movies. In recent years, he took to dispensing pre-loaded iPods to people he liked, much as he’d assiduously compiled mix tapes for Ringwald and Broderick in the old days. The last time he ever saw Hughes, in November 2008, Chris Candy, John Candy’s 25-year-old son, was the recipient of such an iPod, “an incredibly eclectic four-gig, thousand-song mix tape, basically,” Candy says. “I have a local radio show on a college station in L.A., and when John passed away, I just put that iPod on ‘shuffle’ and let it play as my tribute to him.” It was this iPod, returned on loan, that the Hughes family used as background music for Hughes’s funeral.

Last Picture
The evening of Wednesday, August 5, 2009, was a happy one for Hughes. He and Nancy had arrived in New York from Chicago in time to drop in on James and his wife, have dinner, and take lots of photographs and video of their new grandson. Hughes was conversationally “on fire” that night, James says, “in the best possible mood.” After dinner, parents bade good-bye to son and daughter-in-law with plans to meet again the next day.

The morning of August 6, Nancy awoke in her Manhattan hotel room to find her husband’s side of the bed empty, which was not unusual. It was Hughes’s custom to get up early and enjoy a morning constitutional when staying in New York. The routine provided him with an opportunity to get a head start on his relentless observing, sketching, and note-taking.

James was eagerly awaiting the chance to talk with his father about the death of the great screenwriter Budd Schulberg, whose obituary was in the papers that morning. Both Hugheses were fans of A Face in the Crowd, the connoisseur’s choice over Schulberg’s more celebrated On the Waterfront, and surely, James thought, a compelling John Hughes riff on the life and oeuvre of Schulberg was forthcoming.

But then the terrible news reached James, as it had already reached Nancy, and would soon reach John III back in Illinois: Hughes had collapsed on a sidewalk a few blocks from the hotel. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, near Lincoln Center, and pronounced dead of a heart attack.

His death was completely unexpected. Though he had been a chain-smoker for most of his adult life (Tareytons in his adman days, low-tar Carltons thereafter), he had finally kicked the habit in 2001. He had displayed no recent signs of ill health.

“I lost two people with his death,” John III says. “I lost my father, which comes with its own territory. But, really, that was second to losing him as a friend, collaborator, and mentor to my children.”

Says James, “You almost wanted to pick up the phone to talk about John Hughes’s dying with him.”

The notebook that Hughes was carrying with him when he died, a red Smythson Panama, contained no new entry for August 6, though August 5 was filled with a detailed description of the hotel—as if setting the scene in a screenplay—and warm notes about his visit with his grandson. The family also recovered the camera that Hughes had been carrying on his last walk. It contained a few photographs he’d taken that very morning: neatly composed streetscapes. “It’s some small comfort to us that we know from the spot where the ambulance arrived, and from where his last picture was taken, that it was a small distance—that it was sudden,” James says.

More comforting still, James says, is that, “when he passed away, he was doing something he loved. He was out note-taking and observing”—even if the notes were mental and photographic rather than pen-to-paper. The point is: John Hughes never stopped writing until his heart stopped beating.

David Kamp is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.

Anthony Michael Hall is the latest actor to join the cast of director David Gordon Green’s Halloween Kills. He will take on the role of Tommy Doyle.

Doyle a character who appeared in John Carpenter’s original Halloween movie. He is one of the kids that Laurie Strode babysat on the night Michael Myers was killing people. The character was also portrayed by Paul Rudd in the 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Rudd was reportedly approached to reprise his role in this movie but wasn’t able to do it due to scheduling conflicts.

While it would have been fun to see Rudd back in the role, I love that Hall will play him! I’ve been a fan of his for years, and it’s so cool that he’s joining the Halloween franchise!

We still don’t have any story details to share with you, but Halloween Kills will be released on Friday, October 16th, 2020 and Halloween Ends will be released on Friday, October 15, 2021. Green is also co-writing the films with Danny McBride.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, and Andi Matichak are all set to reprise their roles in the next two Halloween sequels. Michael Myers actors Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney will also come back to their shared role in the films.

Source: Geektyrant

Anthony Michael Hall has joined the cast of Blumhouse’s Halloween Kills. The actor will be taking on the part of Tommy Doyle, one of the children Laurie Strode babysat in John Carpenter’s iconic original movie. This won’t be the first time that the Doyle character has come back to the Halloween franchise. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers saw a Doyle cameo played by Danny Ray. And in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Paul Rudd played the character and teamed up with Dr. Loomis to take down Michael Myers once and for all.

It isn’t clear how big of a part Anthony Michael Hall will have in Halloween Kills. Obviously, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have taken the Halloween franchise and stuck to the original movie, ditching the long list of sequels in the process. In the first installment, Tommy Doyle was an eight-year old who asked a lot of questions about the bogeyman. The character was even stalked by Michael Myers on his way home from school and Laurie Strode ended up saving his life.

Anthony Michael Hall is arguably best-known for starring in 80s classics such as Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, and The Breakfast Club. More recently, Hall has had roles in the USA series The Dead Zone, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Netflix’s War Machine. Halloween Kills will also see the return of Jamie Lee Curtis as the iconic Laurie Strode and it’s possible that Charles Cypher may also reprise his role as Sheriff Leigh Brackett from the original 1978 movie. David Gordon Green is back directing from a script he wrote with Danny McBride and Scott Teems.

Related: Halloween Kills Gets Robert Longstreet as Returning School Bully Lonnie Elam

While the upcoming Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends are expected to be the last movies in the franchise, creator John Carpenter doesn’t think so. He believes as long as there is still money to be made, more movies will continue to be released over the next handful of years. That’s debatable at the moment, but the iconic director does seem to have a pretty good point. Last year’s Halloween was a box office hit, which is why we’re getting these next two installments.

Halloween Kills is expected to hit theaters on October 16th, 2020 and Halloween Ends is expected to open on October 15th, 2021. Now that casting is underway, we will more than likely get some more updates as the production start nears. Horror fans seem to be on the fence about two more installments hitting theaters so soon. Some people really enjoyed what David Gordon Green and Danny McBride brought to the table, while others weren’t as impressed. With that being said, it’s impossible to please everybody and Blumhouse is confident that they can repeat the success of the last movie while possibly getting even bigger. Variety was the first to report on the Anthony Michael Hall casting in Halloween Kills.

Source: Movie Web

Anthony Michael Hall will join Jamie Lee Curtis in “Halloween Kills,” the latest sequel in Blumhouse and Universal’s horror franchise.

Hall will portray Tommy Doyle, a character who first appeared in the original “Halloween” movie as one of the kids Laurie Strode (Curtis) babysat the night Michael Myers reigned terror on the small town. Doyle’s character (portrayed in that movie by Paul Rudd) returned in 1995’s “Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers.” In that film, Doyle teamed with the iconic Dr. Loomis to help stop Myers again.

As previously announced, the studio will shoot two “Halloween” installments back-to-back. “Halloween Kills” is scheduled to debut on Oct. 16, 2020, while “Halloween Ends” is expected to open the following year on Oct. 15.

Last year’s “Halloween” — starring Curtis and directed by David Gordon Green — went on to become the highest-grossing entry in the horror franchise with over $250 million worldwide.

Green returned to direct “Halloween Kills” and will co-write the movie with Danny McBride, who also penned the most recent “Halloween.”

The film will be produced by Malek Akkad, Blum and Bill Block. Carpenter, Curtis, Jeanette Volturno, Couper Samuelson, McBride, Green and Ryan Freimann will executive produce. Ryan Turek is overseeing the project for Blumhouse.

Hall, whose is best known for classic 1980s favorites like “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink,” recently starred in the USA TV series “The Dead Zone.” He other film credits include “The Dark Knight” and Netflix’s ” War Machine.”

He is repped by Untitled Entertainment.

Source: Variety

Anthony Michael Hall is set to join Jamie Lee Curtis in Blumhouse’s Halloween sequel Halloween Kills, which will stalk theaters next October.

Hall will play Tommy Doyle, a character who first appeared in John Carpenter‘s original Halloween movie as one of the young kids Laurie Strode (Curtis) was babysitting the night that Michael Myers invaded her world. Paul Rudd played Tommy Doyle in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, which saw the character teaming up with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) to bring down Myers.

David Gordon Green is directing Halloween Kills and the subsequent sequel Halloween Ends, which will be shot back-to-back, as the studio aims to release the “final” film in Strode saga on Oct. 15, 2021. Carpenter himself recently cast doubt that Halloween Ends would truly by the last entry in the franchise, so long as it makes money. And judging by the last film, which grossed more than $250 million worldwide on a $10 million budget.

Blumhouse principal Jason Blum is producing the Halloween sequels with Malek Akkad and Bill Block. Carpenter and Curtis will executive produce with Jeanette Volturno, Couper Samuelson, Ryan Freimann, Green and co-writer Danny McBride. Blumhouse’s Ryan Turek will oversee the project for the company, and Universal will handle distribution.

Hall starred in the ’80s teen comedy classics The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink before going on to appear in films such as The Dark Knight. He’s represented by Untitled Entertainment, and his casting was first reported by Justin Kroll at Variety, who joined me on the very first episode of’s newest podcast The Sneider Cut, where news of Doyle’s return first surfaced.

Kroll said that Blumhouse approached Rudd about reprising his role, and while the actor was flattered, his participation would be logistically impossible, as he’s currently shooting Jason Reitman‘s new Ghostbusters movie for Sony. While Hall may offer the same star power as Ant-Man hero Rudd, his casting is kind of perfect, and I love that Green is giving this ’80s icon another chance to shine on the big screen. Just note that Variety makes no mention of Tommy Doyle appearing in Halloween Ends, so perhaps Michael Myers finally catches up with him after all this time. We’ll have to wait until next October to find out!

Michael Myers might have another name added to his kill list: Anthony Michael Hall.

Hall, 51, joins Jamie Lee Curtis in the upcoming Halloween Kills which follows the story of Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the aftermath of 2018’s Halloween, according to Variety.

The actor, who is best known for his turns in The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, is set to play Tommy Doyle, the adult version of the little boy who first appeared in John Carpenter’s 1978 original film Halloween.

Tommy, who was first played by Brian Andrews, was one of the children Laurie looked after as a babysitter. Paul Rudd also played the character in 1995’s Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers — although that film’s timeline was ignored in last year’s reboot.

In July, Curtis, 60, surprised fans when she announced two more sequels were planned after the reboot earned $76 million in its opening weekend — the largest opening for a horror film with a female lead.

Posting a teaser for both to her Instagram, Curtis wrote, “‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.’ Well, my friends and fans….I’m just WARMING UP Happy Halloween 2020/2021.”

The sequels are Halloween Kills, slated for Oct. 16, 2020, and Halloween Ends, scheduled for Oct. 15, 2021.

Source: People Magazine

To understand the mark left by writer-director John Hughes look no further than this: One of the 1980s’ most influential film genres simply carries his name: the John Hughes movie. A prolific writer since his days at the National Lampoon, Hughes practically took over ’80s pop cinema, tapping into an unserved audience which connected with suburban teen confusion, unrequited love, near-absurd humor, and Anthony Michael Hall. Hughes’s work became so popular that fans often assumed he directed films that he hadn’t (Some Kind of Wonderful, a Hughes production, is a perfect example). Here at, we couldn’t ignore that kind of effect, or our collective admiration, so we did what film folks do: Create a top ten list. Here are the ten best John Hughes movies and what makes them essential John Hughes movies.

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) (written, directed and produced by Hughes)
Given Hughes’s premature death, it’s poignant to recall Ferris Bueller’s credo: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” For Ferris, that means faking illness so he can skip school on a glorious spring day in Chicago to take his pretty girlfriend Sloane and excessively nervous best friend Cameron on a serious of amazing adventures, committing petty crimes and outsmarting stupid adults all along the way. The question isn’t ‘what are we going to do,’ the question is ‘what aren’t we going to do?” Wrigley Field. The art museum. The Sears Tower. Lunch with ‘Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago.’ The German Day parade. And of course the borrowed Ferrari. What a day! Is Ferris ultimately a jerk or a ‘righteous dude?’ He’s both actually, and he’s unforgettable. It’s fun — and humbling — to look back as an adult and ask yourself, ‘Am I living my life the way Ferris would want me to?’ Imagine a teen flick inspiring that much introspection. Such was the John Hughes way.

2. The Breakfast Club(1985) (written, directed, and produced by Hughes)
Is Hughes’ detention-hall-as-confessional comedy the “best” high school movie ever made, as suggested by Entertainment Weekly‘s editors in 2006? Perhaps, though classifying a movie that’s all about avoiding classification misses the point. Hughes wrote for teenagers, but his astute observations crossed generational lines. The Breakfast Club is his most earnest picture, notable for its comprehension of five eclectic teen archetypes, frozen in time thanks to the way they’re portrayed in this film. Judd Nelson walks away the winner — or, more appropriately, marches away with his fist pumping in the air — because Hughes handed rebellious John Bender a locker full of memorable lines. But it was outstanding work by the full ensemble that exposed the vulnerable truth behind high school’s judgmental labels of Princess, Brain, Criminal, Jock, and Basket Case. As Hughes points out, no matter which personality fits you best, everyone is a member of the same Club.

3. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) (written, directed, and produced by Hughes)
This was billed as Hughes’ “grown-up” film, with nary a Broderick or Ringwald to be found. Instead, it follows the efforts of two harried businessmen (Steve Martin and John Candy) trying to get home for Thanksgiving. Martin’s the straight man: a slightly elitist big wheel whose utter exasperation gives the actor an outstanding platform for his physical skills. Candy’s the boor: a well-meaning purveyor of shower curtain rings who manages the exquisite feat of being both sweet and obnoxious in equal measures. It may have been the late comedian’s finest performance, augmented by Hughes’s gift for dialogue and the overdone but always potent use of travel as a source of humor.

4. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) (written by Hughes; directed by Harold Ramis)
While Vacation is identified more closely with Chevy Chase and the National Lampoon franchise it spawned, Hughes was really the mind (the writer) behind the Griswolds’ ill-fated road trip to Hell. Seeking some summer family bonding, Clark, Ellen, and their two grumbly teenagers hit the highways in the world’s ugliest station wagon, en route to the nostalgic theme park called Wally World. The path is fraught with challenges, redneck cousins, and Christie Brinkley. But Clark demonstrates the fortitude of a frontier explorer in his quest to have family fun, dammit! Before redefining teenagerdom in the mid-’80s, Hughes created what still stands as one of the decade’s best-loved comedies.

5. Weird Science (1985) (written by Hughes; directed by Harold Ramis)
For a young and impressionable geek, the idea of turning a computer, a Barbie doll, and a few bras worn on the head into a DIY woman was almost too much to bear. Weird Science may be Hughes’s most fanciful movie — it’s hard to argue that a film in which one character is metamorphosed into a giant, talking mound of human poo has any grounding in reality — but it’s also one of his pure-and-simple most fun films. Studded with quotable one-liners (“It’s Chet.”) and, of course, the unforgettable Kelly LeBrock as the ultimate dream girl, Weird Science is that rare film that everyone from the nerds to the jocks could — and did — enjoy.

6. Sixteen Candles (1984) (written and directed by Hughes)
Staring into the mirror, gangly redhead Samantha Baker says, “You need four inches of bod and a great birthday.” She gets neither thanks to Hughes, who puts his muse, Molly Ringwald, through the ringer of embarrassment before she’s finally able to blow out all Sixteen Candles. This was Hughes’ directorial debut, and his fascination with his own sarcastic dialogue results in a few pacing problems (which he solved by the time he filmed The Breakfast Club the following year). The humor’s also more juvenile than Hughes’ other films — even the sex-charged Weird Science — as his view of high school drips more with disdain than compromised understanding. But every filmmaker must walk before he can run, and the steps Hughes took in Candles continue to affect screenwriters and directors to this day.

7. Mr. Mom (1983) (written by Hughes; directed by Stan Dragoti)
One of the first films — and still the best — that humorously follows a man who isn’t effeminately taking over the “woman’s job” of stay-at-home parent, Mr. Mom remains a classic. As Jack (Michael Keaton) slowly realizes how much work it really takes to keep up with everything, his newly career-focused wife Caroline (Teri Garr) also gains an appreciation of the stress involved in maintaining parenthood and payments. A uniquely equal journey of a couple re-learning how to be true partners on the path to a well-run household, Mr. Mom gently but brilliantly defies gender stereotypes and manages to make everyone laugh in the process.

8. Home Alone (1990) (written and produced by Hughes; directed by Chris Columbus)
This movie is the reason why some kids set traps all over the house and try to sled down the steps to the living room as a kid. Home Alone is THE family holiday smash of the early ’90s. It was the perfect family blend of every kids’ dream — having free rein over the house — and great physical comedy from the two wet bandits (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern). Throw in Macaulay Culkin’s charm, a few John Hughes coming-of-age situations — Kevin defeats his fear of the basement, shops for his own groceries, and defends his house — and a whimsical John Williams score, and you have yourself a classic.

9. Uncle Buck (1989) (written, directed and produced by Hughes)
In every family there’s the uncle everyone stays away from. You might call him Uncle Weirdo, Uncle Pervert, or Uncle Felon, but to John Hughes it was Uncle Buck. When Bob and Cindy Russell leave town due to a family emergency, the only person they can find to watch their three kids is the infamous uncle (John Candy). He might smoke too much and spend his free time at the track, but Uncle Buck puts the kids first. Whether it’s making a gigantic pancake for Miles’ birthday, telling off the elementary school principal for Maizy, or getting rid of Tia’s loser boyfriend Bug, Uncle Buck is more than just a babysitter, he’s family.

10. Pretty in Pink (1986) (written by Hughes; directed by Howard Deutch)
Released smack in the middle of Hughes’s major hot streak (six months after Weird Science, about three months before Ferris Bueller), Pretty in Pink is one of the writer’s most dramatic stories about teen life. Molly Ringwald is broke but happy, Andrew McCarthy is rich but confused, and the two are falling in love. Unfortunately, peer pressure and class differences get in the way, creating conflict on both sides of the tracks. The leads are solid and sincere, but the star turns come from James Spader, giving a unique, supremely snooty performance and Jon Cryer, as the unforgettable Duckie. The film is rounded out by a notable cast — Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, and appearances by Gina Gershon and Andrew Dice Clay — and a can’t-miss 1980s soundtrack.

Anthony Michael Hall announced his engagement to Lucia Oskerova on Instagram over the weekend, sharing photos from their trip to Italy where he proposed

Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Anthony Michael Hall.

The Breakfast Club actor, 51, is engaged to girlfriend Lucia Oskerova, he announced on Instagram Saturday, sharing collages of photographs taken during a recent family trip to Italy.

“9.4.19 Taormina, Sicily ‘The Greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return,’ ” Hall captioned his first post, which featured multiple photos of the couple and their families and one snap of actress Oskerova showing off her new bling for the camera.

“LoVE STORY,” the groom-to-be wrote alongside his second post, adding a multitude of hashtags to both including “#proposal,” “#loveconquersall,” “#theone” and “#lovewinsalways.”

Hall and Oskerova — who costarred in the 2017 film War Machine — have been linked since at least summer 2016, when the actor began sharing photos of the pair out and about on date nights.

They have since been snapped together at various events, including Brett Ratner‘s Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony in January 2017, the November 2018 premiere of Hall’s film Bodied, 2019 Oscars afterparties and more.

” ‘Behind every good man is a great woman.’ So grateful to the Good Lord, I am in love with the most beautiful and sweet woman, Lucia Oskerova. She is the 1 ‘LOVE WINS’,” Hall captioned a photo of the couple posted in May 2017, taken amid an outdoor landscape.

Another image, posted the same day, featured a close-up of Oskerova sporting a bold red lip, mascara and multiple black choker necklaces.

“Lucia: U R my angel and my heart. My life and breath and love. I am the most BLESSED man in this world to spend every day with U. God graced us with LoVE,” he wrote. “I will LoVE YoU 4 Eternity. Hallelujah.”

The marriage will be the first for Hall.

Source: People Magazine