It was one of the most famous movie posters of the early 1980s: then-teen heartthrobs Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, and Patrick Swayze cracking up while wearing tough-guy gear in a promo poster for the 1983 film, The Outsiders.
The photo for the famous Outsiders poster was taken at a moment where the stars who played the Greasers were supposed to be in character for the anticipated shoot. Instead, the photographer caught the star-studded cast in a rare lighthearted moment, thanks to Ralph Macchio.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Macchio, who played Johnny Cade in the famous Francis Ford Coppola coming-of-age drama, revealed why the theatrical movie poster showed The Outsiders gang cracking up instead of looking like they meant business.
Macchio told THR that the laugh-filled picture came after he took a crack at costar Leif Garrett, who played Bob Sheldon in the film. Macchio recalled that Garrett— who had been a child actor for more than a decade, as well as a teen music idol with hits like “Runaround Sue” and “I Was Made for Dancin'”—reportedly walked by a table of food meant for the cast of the movie, but a stagehand didn’t realize he was one of the movie’s stars.
“One of the production guys behind the cameras said ‘all the food over here is for the talent.’ He was telling the crew guys. Leif Garrett was walking by and I said, ‘Remember, Leif, he said that’s just for the talent!’ It got this big laugh. … We laugh about it to this day. Everybody cracked up and there’s this picture.”
The Outsiders catapulted many of its young stars to fame in the 1980s. After starring in Coppola’s adaption of the S.E. Hinton YA classic, Tom Cruise went on to superstardom in films like Top Gun and The Color of Money, and Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe became part of Hollywood’s “Brat Pack” of young actors, appearing together again in the 1986 film St. Elmo’s Fire.
Unfortunately, Leif Garrett’s acting career stalled after The Outsiders. In an interview with Channel Guide magazine, Garrett revealed that his managers, Tony and Ben Scotti, allegedly sabotaged his chances for a big movie deal.
“Everything was absolutely perfect up until ’84,” Garrett said of his career. “And ’84 was when the Scotti Brothers made the mistake of telling Paramount and Universal that I didn’t want to sign to a two-picture deal after doing The Outsiders. They started their own production company with me doing a movie about … foosball. Are you out of your fricking minds? I just did The Outsiders and you’re having me do a B-movie about foosball now?”
Garrett admitted that while he knew he needed to eventually make a crossover into adult roles, his handlers never told him that more movie offers were coming in. In fact, he alleged that his “greedy” managers never let him have a say in anything and that he was told he had no other offers.
Leif Garrett later appeared in the horror films Cheerleader Camp and Party Line.
You can see Leif Garrett in The Outsiders in the clip below.