All of the adults in The Breakfast Club are either clueless or condescending, but once upon a time, there was a decent grown-up character in John Hughes’ teenage classic.
For EW’s Untold Stories issue, we caught up with actor-turned-writer-director Karen Leigh Hopkins to talk about her little-known role in the beloved high school dramedy — and why her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Hopkins was originally cast as a fresh-out-of-college gym teacher who gives an inspiring speech to the students about life after high school. (Principal Richard Vernon, played by Paul Gleason, was also supposed to have a crush on her character.)
“She’d just gotten out of school herself and was bridging the gap between the kids and the establishment,” Hopkins says now. “The whole idea of the character was that she’s not that far away from what they were.”
She shot multiple scenes, including several takes where Hughes would give her improvised lines in an attempt to crack up Anthony Michael Hall. But one morning, she received a call telling her to go home: Her part had been cut. “Did I wish I was in that film?” she says. “So much. I went the day that it opened. It was a full audience, and I watched where I would’ve been just to make sure I wasn’t in it.”
Hopkins never got a full explanation as to why she was cut — Hughes died in 2009 — but she denies a rumor that her character was only written to provide a gratuitous nude scene. (She never shot one.)
For more revelations from the past four decades of entertainment, visit ew.com/untoldstories.
It wasn’t all bad news, though: Hopkins later sold her first script to a Paramount exec who recognized her name from The Breakfast Club, launching a screenwriting (Stepmom; Because I Said So) and directing (Miss Meadows) career. Still, she does feel a twinge every time she hears Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
“And as a director,” she adds, laughing, “I’m very mindful if I do have to cut anyone to let the actor know.”