Make a wish! Sixteen Candles encapsulated what it was like to be a teenager who feels invisible but is really a star in their own right — and more than three decades later, it still resonates with fans.
John Hughes’ 1984 film introduced fans to Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker and Anthony Michael Hall as the Geek or Farmer Ted. The two stars’ careers quickly took off after the rom-com became a mega-hit, leading to even bigger roles in The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Weird Science.
While some of the story lines from Sixteen Candles are controversial in modern times — like when Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling) trades his drunk girlfriend Caroline (Haviland Morris) for Sam’s underwear — a lot of the themes are still relevant.
In the film, Sam’s parents forget her Sweet 16 because her older sister, Ginny (Blanche Baker), is getting married to a bohunk named Rudy (John Kapelos). As Sam tries to forget about her failed birthday, her high school crush, Jake, finally starts to notice her — and not just because she was cool enough to lend a freshman geek her underwear to help him win a bet.
The movie also starred both Joan Cusack and her brother, John Cusack, in minor roles that are still memorable for fans of the teenage love story.
Looking back, the cast of Sixteen Candles still can’t believe how much staying power the film has had.
Gedde Watanabe, who plays foreign exchange student Long Duk Dong, described the movie’s continued success as “quite incredible” and something he didn’t see coming.
“I’m still sideswiped by it all,” he told Vulture in May 2014 after doing an autograph show and screening with former costar Debbie Pollack, who played Long Duk Dong’s girlfriend Marlene. “Maybe because it’s been so many years since the movie and even several years since I’ve seen it, I expected, like, two people to show up. And when so many did — and brought their kids and talked about how much the movie meant to them, I don’t know — I’m humbled and I’m grateful.”
Watanabe added: “It also says so much about John Hughes, his movies, their resilience and his brilliance. Bless his heart, because we don’t have him anymore.”
Ringwald also spoke fondly of the late director while writing an essay for the New Yorker in April 2018. She remembered meeting Hughes while he was casting The Breakfast Club and instead of making that film his directorial debut, he switched gears and created Sixteen Candles.
“He told me later that, over a July 4th weekend, while looking at headshots of actors to consider for the movie, he found mine, and decided to write another movie around the character he imagined that girl to be,” she wrote. “That script became Sixteen Candles, a story about a girl whose family forgets her sixteenth birthday. ”
The Riverdale actress praised Hughes for writing so many movies with a female lead. “No one in Hollywood was writing about the minutiae of high school, and certainly not from a female point of view,” she explained.
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Scroll down to see what the cast of Sixteen Candles has been doing since the ’80s: