The Secret Misery of a Gen-X Heartthrob

When I was 19, I wanted to be Andrew McCarthy — the St. Elmo’s Fire McCarthy, not the rich-jerk McCarthy from Pretty in Pink. I wanted to be tall and literary and cynical-yet-sensitive and wear cool sports jackets with baggy pants.

It turns out that Kevin, the character McCarthy played in St. Elmo’s Fire, was “very much like me,” he writes in his long-awaited (by me, anyway) memoir Brat: An ’80s Story. The overlap was so striking that McCarthy found it unnerving to play the young scribe. But while in the movie, Kevin yearns for Ally Sheedy’s Leslie, in real life McCarthy had a huge crush on his other co-star, Mare Winningham, one that would “hang over me for several years.” Winningham was not only not interested but pregnant with her third child during filming. “Mare suffered my adoration as patiently as her already full life would allow,” he writes.

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