Andrew McCarthy

Andrew cCarthy was born in 1962 in Westfield, New Jersey.   He is best known for his association with the ‘brat pack’.      His best known films are “St Elmo’s Fire” and “Pretty in Pink”.   His more recent films include “Snatched” and “Camp Hope”.

TCM Overview:

Always a good guy stand-out amidst the bad boys of the infamous 1980s cinematic “Brat Pack,” Andrew McCarthy’s down-to-earth appeal helped the handsome actor earn millions of teen fans during his eighties heyday. Hitting the ball out of the park time and again with roles in iconic Generation X films like “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985), “Pretty in Pink” (1986) and “Mannequin” (1987), McCarthy often played the well-off yet unassuming romantic lead with a good heart, who always should get the girl in the end. Unbeknownst to many of his young fans, however, McCarthy was also an accomplished theater actor, who appeared in productions of Tennessee Williams’, Eugene O’Neill’s, and Horton Foote’s works both on and off-Broadway. After taking a turn toward the dark side in Bret Easton Ellis’ feature adaptation of his edgy novel “Less Than Zero” (1987) and defying logic with a role in the misfire “Weekend at Bernie’s” (1989), the actor watched his star – as well as those of most of his fellow Brat Packers – fall as their fans grew up and moved on to the next big thing. Keeping a low profile throughout the 1990s, McCarthy consistently worked, but remained under the radar for the most part, until regaining a more mature but no less potent sex symbol status as billionaire Joe Bennett in the popular but short-lived Brooke Shields’ drama, “Lipstick Jungle” (NBC, 2008-09). Like his peers Patrick Dempsey and Robert Downey, Jr., McCarthy reemerged as a mature leading man for a new generation of fans.

Born on Nov. 29, 1962 in Westfield, NJ, Andrew T. McCarthy attended Edison Intermediate School. When he was 16, McCarthy’s family moved to New York City, where he attended Pingry Prep School. While there, the star appeared in high school plays and musical productions, as well as played basketball. Two years later, McCarthy enrolled at New York University to major in theater and also studied at the Circle in the Square Theater School. The 18-year-old scored his first film role in 1983, playing opposite Rob Lowe and Jacqueline Bisset in the teen sex comedy “Class.” McCarthy had fallen ill the day of the audition, yet he forced himself to go anyway and won the role as Bisset’s younger lover. “It was so out of the blue,” he said. “One week I’m in school and the next week I’m in bed with Jacqueline Bisset. I thought, ‘I’m doing something right here.'”

Lowe and McCarthy worked together again in the 1985 drama “St. Elmo’s Fire,” about a group of friends who discover the complexities of relationships, love, and life after college. McCarthy played sulky writer Kevin who has an affair with his philandering best friend’s (Judd Nelson) needy wife (Ally Sheedy). The ensemble film starred what famously became known collectively as “the Brat Pack” – a group of actors who – in addition to McCarthy, Nelson and Sheedy – included Lowe, Demi Moore and Emilio Estevez, amongst others on the honorary fringe, such as Anthony Michael Hall and Jon Cryer. In addition to starring in each other’s movies – particularly those directed by John Hughes, such as “The Breakfast Club” (1985) – the young turks ruled the Hollywood scene, with much romancing and in-fighting amongst them. Of the core group of Brat Packers, McCarthy became known as the quiet one, taking on a more reclusive approach to his stardom compared to the infamous playboys and partiers he appeared alongside on the big screen.

A year after “St. Elmo’s Fire,” McCarthy joined forces with Hughes’ acting muse Molly Ringwald – also a Brat Packer, herself – in the romantic coming-of-age film “Pretty In Pink.” As rich boy Blaine, the dreamy and baby-faced actor charmed not only Ringwald’s character, but also millions of teenage filmgoers everywhere. His star status rose quickly, and the New Jersey native became a legitimate heartthrob. It was later revealed that director Hughes had McCarthy wear a wig for the famous last scene of “Pretty In Pink,” as the actor had already shaved his head for his next role in the NY-based play, “The Boys of Winter.” McCarthy and Ringwald reunited later on in the much darker drama “Fresh Horses” (1988), but this film lacked the innocence and their coupling, the chemistry, of their earlier classic.

Riding high on his film success, McCarthy delivered a one-two punch in 1987 with a blockbuster comedy and a powerhouse teen drama. The former – “Mannequin” – paired him with a pre-“Sex and the City” sexpot Kim Cattrall in a harmless comedy about a struggling artist who falls in love with a department store mannequin who then magically comes to life. While “Mannequin” left critics less than enthused, the same could not be said for McCarthy’s other offering that year, “Less Than Zero.” In his serious turn as Clay, a young man who juggles a romance with his high school sweetheart (Jami Gertz) as he helps his other friend (Robert Downey, Jr.) battle a cocaine addiction, while all three learn to navigate the concrete jungle of post-high school Los Angeles, McCarthy was spellbinding. The film – based on the disturbing novel by Bret Easton Ellis – was quite a departure from McCarthy’s previous work and was a high point in all of their careers. Film critic Roger Ebert described the three actors’ performances as “flawless.”

McCarthy’s theater career also blossomed in the late 1980s, with the actor often jumping back and forth between film and stage projects. The same year that “Less Than Zero” was released, he starred as Henry Hopper in the PBS American Playhouse production of “Waiting for the Moon,” a 1987 play based on the lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. His other theater credits included “Boys of Winter,” “Psychopathic Sexualicious” and “Long Days Journey Into Night,” in which he played Edmond. The Hartford Stage Company, which produced “Long Days,” was so impressed by the actor that they offered him the lead in “Death of Papa,” a role that was originally written for theater wunderkind, Matthew Broderick. McCarthy was more than happy to take it. The success and praise for his performance won the actor the role of Clifford in the Tony Award-winning play, “Side Man.” In 2001, McCarthy returned to the Hartford Stage to play Tom in the Tennessee Williams classic, “The Glass Menagerie.”

In 1989, McCarthy teamed up with Jonathan Silverman in the unspeakably odd film, “Weekend at Bernie’s,” a screwball comedy about two friends who pretend – to great and preposterous lengths – that their murdered boss Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser) is still alive. The film became a surprise hit, and the actors even reprised their roles in the 1993 sequel, “Weekend at Bernie’s II” which received less-than-stellar reviews and box-office haul. Despite the odd “Bernie” choices, McCarthy proved he was much more than a former teen heartthrob-turned-goofy comedic actor, by appearing in two critically acclaimed 1994 ensembles – as a dissatisfied husband in “The Joy Luck Club” and as Eddie Parker in “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.”

By the late nineties, McCarthy appeared in several independent film releases – from the crime drama “Mulholland Falls” (1996) to the action thriller “Stag” (1997). Though none of his work in the 1990s and into the next millennium reached either blockbuster or iconic status like his eighties work, McCarthy developed into a serious and highly employable actor – particularly on television. He guest-starred on episodes of “Law & Order” (NBC, 1990- ) and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC, 1999- ). The actor was set to guest star on the show’s third franchise “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (NBC, 2001- ), however, tensions on-set between him and star Vincent D’Onofrio forced creator Dick Wolf to decide against it. “I was fired because I refused to allow a fellow actor to threaten me with physical violence, bully me and try to direct me,” McCarthy later said of the highly volatile D’Onofrio.

In 2004, McCarthy was cast as surgeon Dr. Hook in “Kingdom Hospital” (ABC), a horror miniseries adapted by Stephen King and based on a series from Danish filmmaker, Lars von Trier. A year later, the actor joined Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper on the short-lived series “E-Ring” (NBC, 2005-06), based on the people who work inside The Pentagon. McCarthy returned to film in 2008, playing Freddie Highmore’s dad in “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” That same year, he joined the cast of “Lipstick Jungle,” a series about three career women – Brooke Shields, Lindsay Price and Kim Raver – from the pen of “Sex and the City” (HBO, 1998-2004) scribe, Candace Bushnell. Audiences loved McCarthy as sexy billionaire Joe Bennett. “He’s one of these guys for whom anything goes,” McCarthy said about his character. “He’s not bound by any rules of society because money liberates you from all those constraints. The sky’s the limit.” In between his time on “Lipstick,” the actor squeezed in two films in during the Writer’s Strike of 2008 – the thriller “Camp Hope” with Dana Delany, and the romantic comedy “The Good Guy” (2009) with Alexis Bledel.

 This TCM Overview can also be accessed online here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *