Steve Martin, Demi Moore, Macaulay Culkin reveal their grief – and his greatness
Credit: George Pimentel/WireImage; Everett Collection

While John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Home Alone proved to be both box-office powerhouses as well as culturally significant landmarks, his sudden death from a heart attack Thursday is proving equally noteworthy, for the shockwaves it is sending throughout the acting community that he helped to launch.

Known as the “Brat Pack” – a term coined in a 1985 New York magazine feature on the then-rising Hughes and the cast of his coming-of-age comedies – the writer-director-producer’s stable of fresh-faced performers included such now-household names as Sean Penn, Steve Carell, Macaulay Culkin, Matthew Broderick, Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen, Molly Ringwald, John Cusack, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Anthony Michael Hall and Ally Sheedy, among others.

While Pretty in Pink star Ringwald recalled Hughes, 59, as “an important part of my life,” and Ferris Bueller himself, Broderick, considered him “my friend,” others remember the filmmaker as follows:

• “I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person. The world has lost not only a quintessential filmmaker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man.” – actor MACAULAY CULKIN

• “John was an amazing mentor to me during the time we were shooting Curly Sue. He had a childlike spirit that connected us instantly and always made me feel loved. He will be missed but his work speaks for itself and will live in his honor.” – actor ALISAN PORTER

• “John Hughes’s iconic films gave a powerful voice to a generation. He will be missed but never forgotten!” – actor DEMI MOORE

• “I will always cherish the time I spent with John Hughes.I was so grateful for the opportunity to walk around in his shoes and try to see the world through through his brilliant eyes. Sharing his films with my kids over the years I can see the timelessness of his work.” actor KEVIN BACON

• “His films helped establish an international notion of ordinary American teenagers, and he was as popular abroad as at home. Once when I was visiting the largest movie theater in Calcutta, I asked if Star Wars had been their most successful American film. No, I was told, it was Baby’s Day Out, a Hughes comedy about a baby wandering through a big city, which played for more than a year.” – critic ROGER EBERT

• “He was a wonderful man, a genius, a poet. I don’t think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the postwar period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan Age.” – actor-economist BEN STEIN

• “”I asked John how long it took to write Planes, Trains and Automobiles, he said, ‘I wrote it over the weekend.’ The weekend. That shows you what he was able to do.” – actor-writer STEVE MARTIN

• “John always treated me with respect and consideration. He encouraged a real and active collaboration; he was most generous with his insight … My heart breaks for his family … I know many people whose lives were touched by John will be saddened today. I know I am.” – actor JUDD NELSON

• “He took a tremendous chance on me. Like Orson Welles, he was a boy wonder, a director’s director, a writer’s writer, a filmmaker’s filmmaker. He was one of the giants.” – actor-director BILL PAXTON

• “My family and I are deeply saddened and in shock. Our only goal is to support his family and make sure they’re fine.” – Hughes’s attorney JAKE BLOOM

• “He changed my life forever. Nineteen years later, people from all over the world contact me telling me how much Home Alone’meant to them, their families, and their children.” – actor DEVIN RATRAY

• “John told me about why he left Hollywood He was terrified of the impact it was having on his sons; he was scared it was going to cause them to lose perspective on what was important and what happiness meant Tonight, when I heard the news that John had died, I cried. I cried hard. (And I’m crying again.) I cried for a man who loved his friends, who loved his family, who loved to write and for a man who took the time to make a little girl believe that, if she had something to say, someone would listen.” – Hughes’s pen-pal ALLISON FIELDS