Molly Ringwald may have been everybody’s “teenage crush” on the 1980s, but that didn’t mean she always felt the love. In an interview with Lenny Letter, Ringwald revealed she was virtually friendless after she made her first movie in the early 1980s.
“After my first movie I showed up two months late to seventh grade, and all of my friends had abandoned me,” Ringwald said. ‘I had no friends at all, which was very, very painful. I felt completely isolated.”
While she is best known as the teenage dream in John Hughes’ triple crown of classic coming-of-age films, Ringwald had a few setbacks in her personal life.
“It did feel like the world had a crush on me. Which was a nice feeling,” Molly said. “But then if you have any lucidity, or if you are prone to anxiety, which I think I have been my whole life, you always have the feeling that it’s going to change, that it’s ephemeral and it’s not going to last.”
Ringwald started her career on TV, playing Molly Parker on the Diff’rent Strokes spinoff The Facts of Life. But by age 16 she was the star of three of the most iconic movies of the ’80s— Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. Still, her personal life didn’t pan out the way her lucky movie characters’ did.
“Boys were always too shy to come up to me,” Ringwald revealed. “If I wanted to go out with anyone, I always had to make the first move. I don’t think, in my entire life, anyone has ever made the first move.”
While Ringwald sees the value of those famous movies, saying “they offered a different way to be a teenager,” in real life she was much more of an outsider.
Molly Ringwald completely quit acting, but it wasn’t long after her massive success as a teen star that she hightailed it out of Hollywood and moved to Paris. She says she made the move in order to expand her horizons.
“I might have been able to extend that period of time and done more big blockbustery movies, but I don’t know if I would have been as interesting a person,” Molly says now. “I just do what I love. I enjoy acting, but only if I’m interested in the material. I sang jazz as a child, and I wanted the experience of singing and hearing my adult voice rather than my child’s voice…That’s now grown into my recording and performing music professionally. Writing is also something that I’ve done for years and wanted to put out there.”
As an adult woman (the Sixteen Candles star is now 48!), Molly Ringwald says female friendship is an important part of her life. With her daughter, Matilda, now the same age that she was when her friends turned their back on her, Molly is making sure that her daughter won’t face the same struggles with friendships that she did.
“Female friendship is incredibly important,” Ringwald said. “Connection is a skill that’s taught, and girls really need to learn to trust women, to know that their women friends will have their back, and that you can talk to your female friends about things you can’t talk to anyone else about. I think that’s something that begins in childhood, and it’s something I lost at a certain point. I don’t feel like I’ve made friends incredibly easily, and I haven’t had a lot of [female] mentors.”
While she was the face of teenage girls in the mid-’80s—Ringwald even landed a coveted Time magazine cover just a couple of years into her stardom—in real life, she didn’t feel that way. In an interview with Time, Molly acknowledged that her characters were the all-American girl type, even if she wasn’t.
“I can’t really say I felt like the model of a typical teen because I felt like my own experience was so different,” Ringwald said last year. “But I definitely feel like the characters that I played were sort of girl next door, Midwestern. Since I was the face of those girls, it was easy to confuse the two.”
Still, while her own teen years were difficult, Molly Ringwald acknowledges that they were nothing compared to what teens face today.
“The Internet has changed the teen experience, and cyber bullying didn’t exist in the same way,” Molly told Time. “And it’s definitely harder to be a celebrity. You’re expected to give up so much more of your personal life than you were when I was coming up. You’re followed [by] TMZ and the Internet and everyone taking pictures with their phones when you’re sitting in a coffee shop or in a public bathroom. It’s just constant. I don’t think that I would have done it if it would have been like that.”
Molly Ringwald parlayed her years of wisdom into an advice column for The Guardian. As for her friendships today, Ringwald told Lenny she’s drawn to slightly older, more experienced women whom she feels she can connect with. No more teen drama there.
Take a look at the video below to see Molly Ringwald talking about The Breakfast Club.
[Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]