Ally Sheedy

Catching up with our favorite troubled adolescent, now the scene-stealer of Life During Wartime.

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We’ve had a crush ever since her gothette gazed out of The Breakfast Club and uttered the immortal Hughesian line “When you grow up, your heart dies.” But in recent years, there’s been far too little Ally Sheedy onscreen. Imagine our joy to see the actor, 48, stealing Todd Solondz’s savage Life During Wartime with just one scene. TONY reached the native New Yorker at her home on the Upper West Side.

Time Out New York: Five minutes is all you need to hijack this film.
Ally Sheedy: Oh, please. You know who steals it? Charlotte Rampling.

She’s wonderful too. But come on. Your Helen is a monster: a fatuous Hollywood screenwriter surrounded by luxury and personal chefs, yet ferocious to her sister. Why is Helen on the verge of crying the whole time?
Thank you! I don’t know why she is, actually.

What a shockingly vain creation. And hilarious.
Helen makes no excuses. There’s something fully narcissistic about her. Everybody exists just to serve her. But she “forgives you.” [Laughs]

Did you go back to Lara Flynn Boyle’s version of the character in Happiness?
Okay, this is weird. Journalists started asking me questions like that and I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I didn’t even see Happiness before we made this movie. I just went in and auditioned.

Wait. Todd Solondz didn’t tell you it was a sequel?
He obviously didn’t think it was important. I’m actually very happy about that.

You’ve been around Hollywood. Do you know people in the real world like Helen?
Unfortunately, kind of. Yeah. They’re not as funny.

Please let there be a Helen spin-off.
Oh, God. I think there’s just the right amount of Helen in this one. Maybe too much.

She’s very vocal about her live-in lover, supposedly Keanu Reeves. Did you get a phone call after the movie screened?
Nope. [Sighs] Neither did Salman Rushdie call me to ask me what he should wear to the Emmys.

I love it when Helen drops that name. He must require the advice of especially rude screenwriters. Meanwhile, we saw you at the Oscars talking about John Hughes.
That was really moving. But weird, too, being in the same room with all these people—like Matthew [Broderick], who I worked with such a long time ago, on WarGames.

Does The Breakfast Club loom too large for you?
It was such a monumental movie in many ways, but I didn’t know it. Nobody did. These days, I have a 16-year-old daughter. She was never that interested in what I did for work, until she saw that one. Now she thinks I’m cool.

Which you probably don’t mind.
There’s worse. Ever since High Art, people think I’m psychotic or something.

Read our review of Life During Wartime

More cameos we love


With just one scene, they steal their entire movies. By David Fear, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich


ALFRED MOLINA, BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)
You know things have hit rock bottom for porn star Dirk Diggler when he finds himself at the mansion of debauched coke king Rahad (the unforgettable Molina). As a mysterious Asian boy toy sets off firecrackers indoors, our manic host swirls in a silver robe, belts along to Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” and cheerfully blasts a shotgun over his front lawn. In the span of mere minutes, we come to know (and fear) the blitzed omega of 1980s lifestyles.—JR


DEAN STOCKWELL, BLUE VELVET (1986)
Stockwell’s Kabuki-artist-meets-drag-queen criminal, Ben, oozes deviancy the second he appears in David Lynch’s waking nightmare. By the time he’s punched Kyle MacLachlan in the gut and lip-synced Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” the character actor has left a permanent scar on your psyche. “Goddamn,” says Dennis Hopper’s amped-up lunatic, “you’re one suave fuck!” We’ll add ultracreepy and totally unforgettable to that high praise.—DF


CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, TRUE ROMANCE (1993)
Any Walken highlight reel must include his extended cameo in Tony Scott’s slick crime thriller. The actor exudes menace as a cold-blooded mobster who verbally spars with doomed cop Dennis Hopper. He turns screenwriter Quentin Tarantino’s already crackling dialogue (“You got me in a vendetta kind of mood”) into pure, hypnotic poetry. Just don’t call him part eggplant.—KU

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