20 Things You Never Knew About Andrew McCarthy

Once, not so long ago, Andrew McCarthy was recognised everywhere he went as the teen hero of 80s classics like Pretty in Pink and St Elmo’s Fire. He’s long been grouped – often unwillingly – with the famous Brat Pack.

But amid his efforts to break away from his earlier roles, he has had an impressive career as an award-winning travel journalist and star director. We’re taking a closer look at what he’s doing now, and what became of his Brat Pack legacy. Here are 20 things you may not know about Andrew McCarthy.


20. He had to wear a wig to re-shoot the ending of Pretty in Pink

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Reshoots are common in the film industry, with casts of movies often being called back to shoot pick-ups or to get a few more takes of a scene that didn’t quite work.

With that said, what’s less common is reshoots being required to rework an entire ending months later, especially when those changes vary hugely from what was in the script.

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The ending of Pretty in Pink was originally very different, with Molly Ringwald’s Andie ending up in a relationship with Duckie rather than Blane (played by Jon Cryer and McCarthy respectively).

But early test audiences didn’t like this at all – and so the producers and director Howard Deutsch called the film stars back in to re-shoot the ending, with Blane and Andie now falling in love and going to prom together.

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Unfortunately for McCarthy, the actor had already moved onto a new role at this point, preparing to perform on stage in The Boys of Winter.

He had lost a lot of weight and shaved his head for this play, and as a result, he had to wear a wig for the re-shoot of Pretty in Pink’s resolution.

19. He’s now a TV director

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Ever since the 80s, Andrew McCarthy has worn quite a few hats over the course of his career, from travel journalist to author.

However, aside from countless jobs as an actor, he has also remained in show business by working as a director.

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He has had a very successful career as a TV director over the past few decades, with directing credits including episodes of Gossip Girl and Orange is the New Black. He was also the director for three episodes of the crime thriller Blacklist in 2015.

These experiences have not only helped him to hone a new skill and expand the opportunities he can seek out in the industry, but they have also made him better at what he was already good at.

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In a 2011 interview with the Daily Actor, he said his experiences as a director have turned him into a “much easier actor to work with.”

“If a director wants me to go stand in the corner and stand on my head and face the other way, I’ll be, yes, that’s fine,” he said. “I can do that.”

18. He has won awards for his travel journalism

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As if branching out from acting wasn’t enough of an evolution for the former Brat Pack member to go through, McCarthy has also picked up another serious passion on the side.

Over the past 15 years, this film star has made his name in an entirely different industry – travel journalism and memoir.

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*Credit: Brian Harkin

As a travel journalist, he has written reviews and opinion columns for jet-setting readers of the National Geographic Traveler, The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal among others.

In 2010, he was named Travel Journalist of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers. His wide-ranging success in different fields has secured him an estimated net worth of $12 million.

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Amongst the wisdom he has shared over the course of his travel writing career is the fact that he often spins a globe in his living room to determine the next location he will travel to.

The film star also dislikes staying in fancy hotels, since “it provides a layer of insulation from the place [you’re] staying that doesn’t make sense”. Wise words.

17. He developed a smoking habit from shooting St Elmo’s Fire

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The coming-of-age movies of the 80s have their fair share of bad behaviour, with the characters often hooking up, drinking excessively, or just having a cigarette in their hand in every scene.

Therefore, it’s not that surprising that filming many of these movies inside of just a few years, led the recurring actors to develop some bad habits.

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For example, you’ll see this film star and indeed most of the St Elmo’s Fire cast smoking throughout the 1985 coming-of-age movie.

He developed a smoking habit around this time, partly as a result of his having to smoke so much for the film (it wasn’t until 1988 that it became illegal to smoke real cigarettes in movies).

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Thankfully, he eventually managed to kick the habit, and quit smoking roughly a decade later in 1995.

It’s a good job he did too, as he was set to complete a month-long hiking trip along the 600-mile-long Camino de Santiago in Spain shortly after.

16. He was expelled from NYU

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Like many other aspiring actors, after spending his high school years performing in school plays and musicals, Andrew McCarthy decided that he wanted to study acting. He left his home state of New Jersey for New York City.

He went on to secure an undergraduate place at New York University studying drama, putting him squarely on the career path he wanted.

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Unfortunately, he made a habit of never completing assignments and refused to turn up to class on a number of occasions.

This terrible behaviour meant that it wasn’t long before he was expelled from the university, on the pretence that he wasn’t taking his education seriously.

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Thankfully for McCarthy, he secured a part in the 1983 movie Class not long after, which skyrocketed his profile.

Allegedly, NYU reached out to McCarthy shortly after to let him know that he would be welcome back any time, but he turned them down flat.

15. His first ever role was the Artful Dodger in Oliver!

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Though Andrew McCarthy was offered the chance to star in a highly successful 80s movie before he was set to have even graduated, every actor has to start somewhere.

For McCarthy, that meant starring in the same musical that thousands of school theatre departments also perform every year: Oliver!

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Andrew McCarthy’s first role was in an amateur production of Oliver, at Pingry prep school.

Hilariously enough, he wasn’t even given the starring role, instead playing the Artful Dodger opposite Oliver.

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*Credit: Columbia Pictures

Obviously, the experience was enough to establish McCarthy’s love of not just performing but the stage specifically, as he would go on to appear in many off-Broadway plays throughout his career.

Unfortunately, there’s no telling whether the student who played Oliver went on to have an equally successful career.

14. He has described Weekend At Bernie’s as “the stupidest movie”

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Throughout their careers, many actors strive to take on challenging roles in serious movies, as those types of films are often considered great at helping an actor to evolve and grow.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that the harrowing and transformative roles are also the kinds that often get rewarded come awards season.

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With that said, there’s also a place in the world for stupid and silly movies, whether they’re goofy romances or surreal comedies.

In fact, Andrew McCarthy has even gone on record to say that the stupidest movie he has ever appeared in, might also be the one that he loves the most.

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In a 2017 interview with the AV Club, McCarthy fondly remembered Weekend at Bernie’s as “the stupidest movie.” He starred as Larry in this 1989 comedy. “That movie was completely stupid and fantastic,” he recalled. “I love it.”

“My son – he’s 15 – he saw Weekend,” McCarthy noted. “He’s never seen anything I’ve been in… but he saw Weekend At Bernie’sand he said, ‘Dad, that movie is really stupid.'”

13. He became addicted to alcohol at age 12

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Like many other actors, Andrew McCarthy has been open and frank about his struggles with substance addiction, specifically in relation to alcohol.

However, while many people in the spotlight develop addictions in response to the scrutiny they’re under and the lifestyles they’re exposed to, fame for McCarthy exacerbated problems he was already having.

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Andrew McCarthy revealed in an interview that his addiction problems did not start when he became a film star, since they had been a part of his life from much earlier.

In particular, McCarthy said that he had been battling ongoing alcohol addiction problems from the age of 12.

 

McCarthy entered an extended rehab program in 1992, shortly after the release of Year of the Gun.

McCarthy has worked hard to remain sober ever since and disclosed his history of alcohol problems in an interview in 2003.

12. He took Keanu Reeves’ role in Less Than Zero

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Keanu Reeves was reportedly the first choice for the part of Clay Easton in Less Than Zero.

In the end, however,  Reeves didn’t take the role, choosing instead to star in The Night Before, Permanent Record, The Prince of Pennsylvania and Dangerous Liaisons in the following year.

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Meanwhile, McCarthy was selected to play Clay Easton, whose surname comes from Bret Easton Ellis, the author who wrote the novel on which the movie is based.

Co-starring with Robert Downey Jr and Jami Gurtz, McCarthy’s performance in the film, as well as the rest of the movie overall, were met with mixed reviews.

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The 1987 film is currently sitting at exactly 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, with some critics praising its realism even as others call it hugely exaggerated.

Even the author of the source material claimed to hate it at first, although he’s come around to praising it in recent years.

11. His favourite 80s film to star in was Heaven Help Us

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Heaven Help Us, McCarthy said in a 2011 interview with the Daily Actor, “is my favourite movie I did [in the 80s], with all those Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire, and all that.”

In this 1985 comedy-drama created by director Michael Dinner, also known as Catholic Boys, he plays a wary newcomer to a strict Roman Catholic school in Brooklyn.

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“I thought that movie was actually the one that was the most interesting to me,” McCarthy went on to say. “Although I thought the part in St. Elmo’s Fire was a terrific part for me at that time. It was a perfect match of me and part.”

Despite coming out in the middle of the boom of 80s teen dramedies, and being released the same year as St. Elmo’s Fire, Heaven Help Us hasn’t stuck around quite as clearly in the collective consciousness.

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The lack of fond memories surrounding Heaven Help Us may be down to the fact that it was not a commercial success at the time, mostly because it was marketed as a fluffy teen movie.

McCarthy even went on to call it “a lovely movie that 12 people saw”, which isn’t exactly a compliment.

10. His role in Mannequin was originally meant to be an older, lonely man

Mannequin is director Michael Gottlieb’s romantic comedy that was released in 1987. It follows a struggling artist who starts work as a department store window dresser.

The artist falls in love with a mannequin named Emmy, who occasionally comes to life when they are alone together.

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Mannequin stars Andrew McCarthy, who was still a young man at the time of its release, but it was originally written with a lonelier, older male lead in mind.

Andrew McCarthy wowed at his auditioned and was subsequently cast, so the character was re-written as a much younger man.

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He co-starred with an actress who was six years his senior – Kim Cattrall, who plays his plastic love interest.

The famous Starship song Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now also featured in this movie, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

9. He married his highschool sweetheart

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Many actors who are exposed to stardom before they are fully grown up, learn to live their private life in the spotlight.

Many actors date a string of other high-profile performers, both getting together and breaking up in full view of the public eye.

 

With that said, Andrew McCarthy took a different approach, reconnecting with and dating his highschool sweetheart,  Carol Schneider, after he became famous.

Speaking in an interview about it, McCarthy admitted that a mutual friend had told him that they had seen Schneider with a man, which “bothered [McCarthy] for a week”.

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Credit: Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

McCarthy preceded to ring Schneider and set up a date, which led to the two being married for five years, and even having a son together.

Since McCarthy and Schneider broke up in 2005, McCarthy has since gotten married to stage manager Dolores Rice, with whom he has a daughter.

8. He starred in a Tony Award-winning Broadway play

 

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Many actors seem to have a preference for stage or screen, either rarely venturing out to perform in front of people, or disappearing into obscure plays and renditions of Shakespeare for years at a time.

Andrew McCarthy has taken a more balanced approach, frequently starring in plays but also maintaining a strong TV and film presence.

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Credit: Dragon Productions Theatre Company Via Flickr

In his early career, McCarthy went straight from shooting Pretty in Pink to performing in The Boys of Winter.

However, his most successful play to date is the 1998 production of Side Man, which won a Tony for Best Play in 1999.

 

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McCarthy played Clifford Glimmer, the narrator of the play and son of a successful but self-absorbed jazz trumpet player, after the play transferred to Broadway,

McCarthy replaced Robert Sella in the role, who had played the character through the workshopping phase and off-Broadway.

7. He was fired from his job on Law and Order: Criminal Intent

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Andrew McCarthy has done a fair amount of television acting over the years, with extended runs on many shows, such as Kingdom Hospital and E-Ring.

Most of these projects have gone very smoothly, with McCarthy even gathering enough goodwill to be given a shot at directing several high profile TV show episodes.

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However, the outlier in Andrew McCarthy’s filmography is Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which McCarthy guest-starred in during its 2007 season.

Though McCarthy’s 2007 stint on the show went fine, he was originally supposed to play a character almost a full five years earlier in 2003.

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McCarthy was set to guest star in two episodes in 2003, but was quickly fired due to supposed friction between McCarthy and fellow actor Vincent D’Onofrio, with show creator Dick Wolf saying of the situation: “Mr McCarthy engaged in fractious behaviour from the moment he walked on the set.”

McCarthy quickly released a statement of his own, saying: “I was fired because I refused to allow a fellow actor to threaten me with physical violence, bully me and try to direct me.” Yikes.

6. Andrew McCarthy is a New York Times best selling author

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Andrew McCarthy has made a reputation for himself as an award-winning travel writer, so it should come as no surprise to anybody that he’s good with words.

As well as simply writing articles and features for various travel magazines, he has also expanded into writing full-fledged books.

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*Credit: Paul Froggatt via PR Photos

The first book Andrew McCarthy released was The Longest Way Home, which he published in 2012.

The book is a non-fiction memoir, detailing both his struggle to commit in relationships, to his tendency to use travelling as an escape from commitment.

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His second book, Just Fly Away, was released in 2017 and is McCarthy’s first-ever major work of fiction.

The novel is an exploration of family secrets, young love and intergenerational trauma, wrapped up in a mystery story.

5. His son is a successful actor in his own right

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Sam McCarthy was born in 2002 and is the child of Andrew McCarthy and his first wife, Carol Schneider.

Like his dad, Sam McCarthy has wanted to pursue acting ever since childhood and is well on his way to being just as successful.

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Though the junior McCarthy is obviously far nearer to the beginning of his career, he has already accumulated some great credits.

He made his professional acting debut in 2016 when he was just 14 years old, appearing on the ABC drama series The Family.

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Since then, Sam McCarthy has appeared in shows of a wide range of genres, including crime thriller The Blacklist and comedy series The Jim Gaffigan Show.

Most notably, he has been starring in the new Netflix black comedy series Dead To Me, playing Charlie Harding.

4. He’s set to star in a movie about a homeless man saving a dog

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Credit: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons

Andrew McCarthy’s filmography has been sparser in recent years, reflecting the actor’s wish to focus more on his family life, travel, and writing.

However, he does make time to appear in projects that really matter to him, such as the currently in pre-production Tale of the Wet Dog.

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Tale of the Wet Dog is an upcoming feature film, following the exploits of a homeless man who shoots to fame after rescuing a woman and her dog from drowning.

He is set to play the titular homeless man, named Sam Stanton, whilst Donna Mills is expected to star opposite him.

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As for his other recent projects, he has also appeared in a number of Netflix properties, such as 13 Reasons Why and Good Girls.

He also starred in 2019’s Finding Julia, as the doting father of Julia, as played by actress Ha Phuong.

3. He’s accepted that he will always be famous for the 80s

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Most actors have a heyday – a period of time at which they hit their peak prominence and are suddenly asked to do a thousand projects at once.

Unless they are really lucky, this heyday period does eventually end, with the actor in question settling into a much less frantic routine.

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For Andrew McCarthy, that period of prominence was obviously the 80s, when he starred in most of the projects he is still famous for today.

Being famous for strictly one short segment of their career could be upsetting for a lot of actors, but McCarthy has come to terms with it.

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Speaking at a book signing in 2012, he said to the waiting audience “You know me from Mannequin and Weekend at Bernie’s, and all these sorts of things. How does that person become that person?”

He went on to joke with a journalist that “No matter what I ever do, I could land on Mars and it would be Andrew ‘Pretty in Pink’ McCarthy landed on Mars.”

2. He attended a prep school

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Throughout the Brat Pack phase of his life, Andrew McCarthy often played well-off people who had some measure of wealth and popularity.

What you may not know is that such characters are actually pretty in-line with what his own teenage years were actually like.

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Andrew McCarthy attended The Pingry School in New Jersey, which is actually a fairly exclusive preparatory school.

Tuition at the school is valued at around $40,000 per year, so it is not the kind of high school that everybody can attend.

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In fact, not only are the tuition fees high enough to ensure that the school is exclusive, but the actual acceptance rate is low too.

The acceptance rate at Pingry is only 30% of the national average, so McCarthy’s high school experience was probably pretty unique.

1. He is set to release a memoir about his time in the Brat Pack

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*Credit: Grand Central Publishing

We’ve already discussed the fact that this star is okay with the fact that most of his legacy was secured in the 80s, but there is another piece of information that supports that fact.

Early in 2020, he revealed that he had written a memoir about his time in the infamous Brat Pack, named “Brat: An 80s Story”.

 

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The announcement came after years of McCarthy jokingly beginning his book signings by saying “So first and most importantly, I should tell you that the Brat Pack reunion tour has been suspended again—one of our members is back in rehab. The other important news is, yes, Molly and I do correspond regularly, and she is lovely.”

Despite his jovial way of referring to his other Brat Pack members, the assumption was that he would never write a book about his Brat Pack years, due to feeling as if there was no such group to begin with.

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As surprising as it may sound, this actor spent years denying the existence of the so-called Brat Pack, saying in an interview: “It … did … not … exist! We never hung out – well, they may have hung out. I don’t know their phone numbers! I’ve never talked to a single one of them since we wrapped! It’s all just some lazy f***ing journalist lumping it all together.”