Judd Nelson

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Judd Nelson
Jeanmarie Simpson and Judd Nelson.jpg
Judd Nelson with Jeanmarie Simpson on the set of A Single Woman, November 2006.
Born Judd Asher Nelson
(1959-11-28) November 28, 1959 (age 55)
Portland, Maine, United States
Alma mater Haverford College
Occupation Actor
Years active 1984–present

Judd Asher Nelson (born November 28, 1959) is an American actor, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for his roles as John Bender in The Breakfast Club, Alec Newbary in St. Elmo's Fire, Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie and Transformers: Animated, Nick Peretti in New Jack City and Jack Richmond in Suddenly Susan.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Nelson was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Merle (née Royte), a court mediator and former member of the Maine state legislature, and Leonard Nelson, a corporate lawyer. His family is Jewish,[3] and his father was the first Jewish president of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.[4][5][6] He has two sisters, Eve and Julie. He went to school at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and Waynflete School in Portland, Maine, and studied at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, leaving during his sophomore year. He subsequently moved to Manhattan to study acting with Stella Adler.[1][2]



Nelson began acting in the mid-1980s, starring in Making the Grade (1984) and Fandango (1985), the latter in which he starred opposite a young Kevin Costner. It was his roles in John Hughes's The Breakfast Club (1985) and Joel Schumacher's St. Elmo's Fire (1985) - and his affiliation with the Brat Pack - that made Nelson a star (along with Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy). The St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion) music video - also directed by Joel Schumacher - reached #1 in the USA (1985) written by David Foster and John Parr and performed by John Parr; Nelson appears in the video.[7] A subsequent article in New York magazine, which focused primarily on the success of these films, resulted in the term "Brat Pack" being coined.[8]

In 1986 Nelson provided the voice of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie and teamed up with Breakfast Club alumna Ally Sheedy for a third time in Blue City. He also provided narration for Bill Couturie's Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, a critically acclaimed war documentary that featured a cast including Tom Berenger, Robert De Niro, Willem Dafoe, and Matt Dillon. Film critic Roger Ebert praised the documentary, and it maintains a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[7][9] He starred opposite Burt Reynolds in the ABC Afterschool Special Shattered If Your Kid's On Drugs, which also featured Megan Follows and Dermot Mulroney. 1987 saw him starring in the Bob Clark courtroom comedy From the Hip, which co-starred John Hurt and Elizabeth Perkins; he also provided a stand-out performance in Billionaire Boys Club, a courtroom thriller based on actual events; his performance earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Mini-Series.[7] Nelson closed the 1980s with the William Lustig thriller, Relentless (1989), in which he plays a Los Angeles serial killer being hunted by two cops (Robert Loggia and Leo Rossi); he provided a cameo in the Adam Rifkin road film Never on Tuesday (1989) along with Nicolas Cage, Cary Elwes, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen; and appeared in Tommy Chong's Far Out Man (1989) with Rae Dawn Chong and C. Thomas Howell.[10][11]

Key TV roles in the 1980s included Moonlighting (1986) - episode Camille - in which he played a police officer opposite Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis


Nelson began 1990s with a starring role opposite Max von Sydow in the World War II drama Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes (1990); the film focused on the horror of the Hiroshima bombing; it co-stars Mako Iwamatsu and Pat Morita. He then worked for a second time with Adam Rifkin, this time starring in The Dark Backward (1991) with Bill Paxton; this quirky comedy also featured fellow actor Rob Lowe, as well as Lara Flynn Boyle, James Caan, and Wayne Newton; Nelson plays the worst comedian in stand-up comedy history. 1991 would also see a starring role in the Mario Van Peebles-directed New Jack City, an urban gangster film with Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Vanessa A. Williams, and Chris Rock; the film was a commercial success.[12] He then had a special guest appearance in the popular HBO TV series Tales from the Crypt - on the episode What's Cookin (1992) - with Christopher Reeve and Meat Loaf, followed by a starring role with Richard Jordan in the thriller Primary Motive (1992), and a similar role in Entangled (1993) opposite Pierce Brosnan, which was set in Paris.

In 1994 Nelson appeared with Steve Buscemi, Chris Farley and Adam Sandler in the comedy Airheads, with Gina Gershon in the psychological thriller Flinch, and with then partner Shannen Doherty in the thriller Blindfold: Acts of Obsession; he further wrote, produced, and starred in the thriller Every Breath in which he co-starred with Joanna Pacula. He headlined the Australian thriller, Blackwater Trail (1995), with Peter Phelps before receiving a starring role on the NBC television sitcom Suddenly Susan (1996), which saw success for a four-season run; this was followed by a starring role in the Shaquille O'Neil movie Steel (1997); the film also starred Annabeth Gish and Richard Roundtree (Steel was a commercial flop). Nelson wrapped up the 1990s with another urban gangster thriller, Light It Up (film) (1999), which featured an ensemble cast including R&B singer/actor Usher Raymond (in his first leading role), Rosario Dawson, Forest Whitaker, and Vanessa L. Williams; he also played Alan Freed in the latter's life story, Mr. Rock 'N' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999) opposite Mädchen Amick and Paula Abdul.[7][13]


In the 21st century, Nelson has appeared in such TV series as The Outer Limits (2000), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2006), CSI: NY (2007), Las Vegas (2007), Eleventh Hour (2008) as a psychologist researching soldiers returning from Iraq who suffer from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Psych (2010), and a recurring role in Two and a Half Men (2010) with Charlie Sheen.

Films have included the Psychological thriller Cabin by the Lake (2000), its sequel Return to Cabin by the Lake (2001), and a cameo appearance in the 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; the film's writer/director, Kevin Smith, had been a long-time fan of Nelson and the "Brat Pack" films.[14] In 2002 he co-starred with Lauren Holly in Santa, Jr. and reprised his role as John Bender in an episode of Family Guy (2007). Later, Nelson reprised his role of Rodimus Prime in Transformers Animated (2009) and appeared in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009), the latter with Julie Benz, Billy Connolly, Sean Patrick Flanery, and Peter Fonda.

He portrayed Father Charley Lock on Brookwood Sleazebags (2010), a pilot he did for HBO.[7][15] In 2012, Nelson played the role of Headmaster Nash in the live-action feature film Bad Kids Go to Hell, based on the best-selling graphic novel of the same name. The same year, Nelson co-wrote and starred in the short film The Spin Room: Super Tuesday. Nelson reprised his role as Rodimus in Transformers: Animated and voiced Ben 10,000 and Eon in Ben 10 Omniverse.

In 2013 Judd Nelson authored four books released on Kindle: "The Power of Speech", "Nine of Diamonds", "The Gig" and "Water Music".

Judd Nelson played a pivotal role in the final season of Nikita.[16]

Popular culture[edit]

Nelson is frequently mentioned in relation to the 1980s due to the popularity of his early films The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo's Fire (1985).[citation needed] Nelson appeared at the 2010 Academy Awards to pay tribute to the late John Hughes along with other cast members of Hughes' films.[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1982 Rock 'n' Roll Hotel Rocker Johnny
1984 Making the Grade Eddie Keaton
1985 The Breakfast Club John Bender MTV Silver Bucket of Excellence (2005)
St. Elmo's Fire Alec Newbary
Fandango Phil Hicks, Groover
1986 The Transformers: The Movie Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime Voice
Blue City Billy Turner Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor
From the Hip Robin 'Stormy' Weathers Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor
1987 Billionaire Boys Club Joe Hunt Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Mini-Series
1989 Relentless Arthur 'Buck' Taylor
1990 Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes Pete Dunham Television film
1991 New Jack City Nick Peretti
The Dark Backward Marty Malt
1992 Primary Motive Andrew Blumenthal
Tales from the Crypt Gaston ("What's Cookin'")
1993 Conflict of Interest Gideon
Entangled David
1994 Every Breath Jimmy Writer, producer
Hail Caesar Prisoner One
Airheads Jimmie Wing
Flinch Harry Mirapolsky
Blindfold: Acts of Obsession Dr. Jannings Television film
Caroline at Midnight Phil Gallo
1995 Circumstances Unknown Paul Kinsey Television film
Blackwater Trail Matt
1996 For a Few Lousy Dollars Hitman
Suddenly Susan Jack Richmond
1997 Steel Nathaniel Burke
1999 Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story Alan Freed Television film
Light It Up Ken Knowles
2000 Endsville Rufus the Buck-Toothed Sluggard
Falcon Down Harold Peters
Cabin by the Lake Stanley Television film
The Spiral Staircase Phillip Warren Television film
The New Adventures of Spin and Marty: Suspect Behavior Jack Hulka Television film
2001 Strange Frequency Martin Potter Television film
Lost Voyage Aaron Roberts Television film
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Sheriff
Return to Cabin by the Lake Stanley Television film
Dark Asylum Quitz
The Cure for Boredom Max
2002 Cybermutt Alex Television film
Deceived Jack Jones
Santa Jr. Darryl Bedford Television film
2003 White Rush Brian Nathanson
2004 Ray Music Producer
2005 Lethal Eviction Shep
The Lost Angel Father Brian
Three Wise Guys George Television film
2006 Black Hole Eric Television film
2007 Netherbeast Incorporated Steven P.D. Landry
Nevermore Jonathon Usher
The Kidnapping Glen Television film
2008 The Caretaker Ella's dad[18]
Infected Malcolm Burgess Television film
The Day the Earth Stopped Charlie
2009 Dirty Politics Billy
Transformers Animated Rodimus Prime Voice; one episode
A Single Woman Jewish reporter
Little Hercules in 3-D Kevin
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day Concezio Yakavetta
2010 Psych Dr. Steven Reidman Guest star (episode "Death Is in the Air")
Two and a Half Men Chris Guest star
The Terror Experiment (Fight or Flight) Agent Wilson
Endure Emory Lane
Mayor Cupcake Donald Maroni
2011 Cancel Christmas Santa / Chris Frost Television film
2012 Bad Kids Go to Hell Headmaster Nash
2013 Last Chance Holiday Glenn Cartwell Post-production
Nikita Ronald Peller
2014 Nurse 3D Dr. Morris
2016 Transformers 5 Rodimus Prime


  1. ^ a b Nelson, Judd, Biography: True Story Website [accessed 20.04.12]
  2. ^ a b Nelson, Judd, Internet Movie Database [accessed 20.04.12]
  3. ^ Beard, Lanford. "Judd Nelson on religion in movies, 'Breakfast Club,' and his new film 'Just 45 Minutes from Broadway' | Inside Movies | EW.com". Insidemovies.ew.com. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  4. ^ Peck, Abraham J.; Jean M. Peck (2007). Maine's Jewish Heritage. Arcadia Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 0-7385-4965-7. 
  5. ^ Film Reference.com.
  6. ^ Bartlett, Will (1996-01-09). "LILLIAN D. ROYTE STRONG BELIEVER IN PUBLIC SERVICE". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-27. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Nelson, Judd, The Internet Movie Database [accessed] 20.04.12
  8. ^ Blum, David, New York Magazine, June 10, 1985
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger, Rotten Tomatoes Websire [accessed] 20.04.12
  10. ^ Rifkin, Adam, Never on Tuesday, The Internet Movie Database [accessed] 20.04.12
  11. ^ Cong, Tommy, Far Out Man, The Internet Movie Database [accessed] 29.12.12
  12. ^ "New Jack City (1991)". Box Office Mojo. 1991-05-21. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  13. ^ Steel, Rotten Tomatoes [accessed] 20.04.12
  14. ^ Steve Spears, 'That's Mr. Nelson to you' in the Tampa Bay Times, November 28, 2006.
  15. ^ "Judd Nelson & Peter Fonda Join The Cast Of 'Boondock Saints 2'". Geeks of Doom. December 5, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  16. ^ Masters, Megan (August 20, 2013). "Nikita Exclusive: Brat Packer Judd Nelson to Go Undercover for Major Final Season Arc". TV Line. Retrieved August 31, 2013. 
  17. ^ "John Hughes Tribute, Oscars". The Oscars Official Website. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  18. ^ "The Caretaker Takin' Care of the Killin' Teens Business". DreadCentral. 

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