Thursday, 28 March 2013

C. Thomas Howell: From Brat Pack to cult leader

C. Thomas Howell at left poses with Nathan Fillion
when Howell guest starred recently on "Castle"
C. Thomas Howell
in "Red Dawn"
21st century brat pack
It’s so strange how one day a group of actors can be so prevalent they seem to be everywhere, then they’re all gone just as fast. Today, we can turn on the TV or check out the movie listings and see the latest movie with a combination of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Jonah Hill.


Just under 30 years ago there was a different, more serious, younger group of guys who used to be everywhere. C. Thomas Howell was one of them, and he got me thinking about the rest of them when he recently guest starred on "Castle" as a crazed cult leader.
The movie poster for "Red Dawn"
From left are Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell,
and Charlie Sheen in a scene from "Red Dawn"
There was Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, his brother Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, Matt Dillon, and much more. They were all in "The Outsiders" and would proliferate to dozens of ‘80s movies.
"The Outsiders", from left are Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph
Macchio, Patrick Swayze, and Tom Cruise. This group of actors was all over the movies in the 1980s.

C. Thomas Powell was never actually part of that Brat Pack, but he was part of that crop of young actors you kept seeing in the 1980s. His first major role was in "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial". He went on to play in "Grandview, U.S.A.", "The Hitcher" with Rutger Hauer, "Secret Admirer", and "Soul Man". In this last movie in particular, he demonstrated he can be an engaging and endearing leading man. Yet he was never the striking, overpowering leading man some of the others were, evidenced by the fact he really did not have those defining, breakout roles like Patrick Swayze did in "Dirty Dancing" and "Ghost"; Charlie Sheen had in "Platoon" and "Wall Street"; Tom Cruise had in "Risky Business", "Top Gun" and "Rain Man"; Ralph Macchio had in "The Karate Kid"; Emilio Estevez had in "The Breakfast Club" and "St. Elmo's Fire"; or Rob Lowe had in "St. Elmo's Fire" and "About Last Night…". In fact, Howell's breakout role, looking back, should have been in "The Outsiders". Variety magazine even said, "Howell is truly impressive, a bulwark of relative stability in a sea of posturing and pretense." Instead, C. Thomas Howell never did break out like his peers, but turned into a solid supporting actor. He continues that work now, mostly on TV in guest spots on "Torchwood", "Crminal Minds", and "Castle", and a recurring role in "Southland". He also appeared in "The Amazing Spider Man." in 2012.

It is interesting C. Thomas Howell re-surfaced. One of his most well-known movies was "Red Dawn", and recently a remake of that movie hit theatres. I haven't seen it, so it will be interesting to see how a Cold War movie will be remade in a post-Cold War era.

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