The Real Reason We Don't Hear About Molly Ringwald Anymore

Molly Ringwald was once a staple of American cinema, thanks to classic '80s movies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. Nowadays, though, you hardly hear from her anymore. How did she go from bonafide movie star to distant memory? Here's what we know.

She ended the '80s with a thud

Although she found great success on the big screen for much of the '80s, Ringwald ended the decade with two legitimate bombs: For Keeps and Fresh Horses, both of which were released in 1988. Fresh Horses especially did not sit well with critics or audiences, earning just over $6.6 million, domestically, at the box office. That's a far cry from the $45 million The Breakfast Club pulled in just a few years prior.

To make matters even worse, Fresh Horses still holds a 0 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, nearly 30 years after its release. That's gotta hurt.

She turned town major motion picture roles

Ringwald's fading star may have been catalyzed by decisions she made at the end of the '80s. In 2008, she admitted to the Los Angeles Times that she turned down the lead female roles in Ghost and Pretty Woman, two of the biggest box-office hits of 1990. The following year, she sold her Hollywood home and moved to Paris. "I never felt that I could make mistakes and be ridiculous [in Los Angeles]," she said. "I went to Paris to do that." In her own defense, she claimed she wasn't happy enough with the material offered in Ghost or Pretty Woman; but given the movies made almost $400 million combined at the box office, we also wouldn't blame her for thinking, "sacre bleu!"

Her '90s resurgence never caught on

Ringwald never really seemed to find her footing in the '90s, at least not compared to the overwhelming success she found during the decade prior. One of her chances at a comeback came via the 1994 miniseries The Stand. Although the miniseries, which was based on the popular Stephen King novel, drew a reported 19 million viewers, it hasn't exactly stood the test of time, according to outlets like The A.V. Club. Other projects, including the short-lived ABC series Townies, continued to underwhelm.

She went the theater route

Ringwald started to find more work at the turn of the century, albeit through a much more niche form of entertainment: theater. In 2001, she starred in an off-Broadway production of Jonathan Larson's Tick, Tick...BOOM. That same year, she joined the revival of Cabaret as the troubled stage singer Sally Bowles. More Broadway roles continued, including ones in the plays Enchanted April and Modern Orthodox, before Ringwald joined the national tour of the musical Sweet Charity. Sure, a national tour isn't quite the Academy Awards, but hey, whatever works.

She feuded with John Hughes for years

Remember the saying, "don't bite the hand that feeds you?" Well, Ringwald likely learned that lesson the hard way after severing ties with the director who helped make her famous in the 80s, John Hughes. "Most people who knew [Hughes] knew that he was able to hold a grudge longer than anyone," she admitted in an op-ed published by the New York Times shortly after Hughes' death in 2009. "His grudges were almost supernatural things, enduring for years, even decades. [Anthony Michael Hall] suspects that he was never forgiven for turning down parts in Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I turned down later films as well."

"Not because I didn't want to work with John anymore," she continued. "I loved working with him, more than anyone before or since. Eventually, though, I felt that I needed to work with other people as well. "I wanted to grow up, something I felt (rightly or wrongly) I couldn't do while working with [Hughes]," she added. "Sometimes I wonder if that was what he found so unforgivable. We were like the Darling children when they made the decision to leave Neverland. And [Hughes] was Peter Pan, warning us that if we left we could never come back. And, true to his word, not only were we unable to return, but he went one step further. He did away with Neverland itself."

She added later in the piece that the two made amends after she sent Hughes a letter from Paris. He responded by sending her "flowers as big as my apartment."

A Sixteen Candles sequel never happened

Many stars of the '80s and '90s are finding success again today thanks to a sudden burst of nostalgia from movie and television audiences. Look no further than the cast of Full House, whose careers were plucked back from obscurity thanks to the Netflix reboot, Fuller House.

Ringwald admitted during a 2012 Reddit AMA that she almost cashed in on the nostalgia craze via a sequel to Sixteen Candles. The project eventually fell through, though, because, according to her, "[Hughes] didn't want to have sequels to any of the movies I was in and I didn't feel comfortable doing it without his involvement." That revelation was heartbreaking to hear for fans of the Brat Pack; but then again, considering how bad the reviews were for Fuller House, perhaps she dodged another bullet in the end.

Jem was an absolute bomb

Although her movie career isn't what it once was, Ringwald hasn't exactly given up. Case in point: she appeared in the much-anticipated 2015 movie Jem and the Holograms. Unfortunately for her, the film was a complete and total bomb, grossing a disastrous $2.2 million at the box office. Critics weren't exactly kind, either; the film only received an 18 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Granted, she wasn't the star of the movie, but that's still not something any actor would want on their resume.

And yet, she's still done a lot of great work

In 2008, Ringwald landed her biggest role in decades on the hit ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, on which she stayed through 2013 and 96 episodes, according to IMDb. She's also written a handful of books, including 2012's When It Happens to You, and released a jazz record in 2013. Ringwald—who is now re-married with three children— even had a pretty successful advice column for The Guardian for awhile.

So, in other words: despite a number of career setbacks, we don't think we'll be forgetting about her anytime soon.