Judd Asher Nelson
November 28, 1959
Portland, Maine, U.S.
Judd Asher Nelson (born November 28, 1959) is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie', John Bender in The Breakfast Club, Alec Newbury in St. Elmo's Fire, Alex in Cybermutt, Joe Hunt in Billionaire Boys Club, Nick Peretti in New Jack City, Billy Beretti in Empire, and Jack Richmond in the television series Suddenly Susan.
Nelson was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Merle Nelson (née Royte), a court mediator and former member of the Maine House of Representatives, and Leonard Nelson, a corporate lawyer. He grew up in a Conservative Jewish home although his family did not keep kosher. His father was the first Jewish president of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. 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. While at St Paul's School, an Episcopalian school, he started embracing his Jewish identity after experiencing Antisemitism. He studied at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, leaving during his sophomore year. He subsequently moved to Manhattan to study acting with Stella Adler.
Nelson began acting in the mid-1980s, starring in Making the Grade (1984), and in Fandango (1985) opposite 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 Schumacher – reached No. 1 in the US (1985). It was written by David Foster and John Parr and performed by John Parr. Nelson appears in the video. He also appeared on a video for the Simple Minds' song "Don't You (Forget About Me)", from The Breakfast Club, in which members of the "Pack" feature prominently. A subsequent article in New York magazine, which focused primarily on the success of these films, resulted in the term "Brat Pack" being coined.
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.
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. In 1987 he starred 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. In late 1988 he played Konstantin in Chekhov's The Seagull directed by Charles Marowitz at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, earning praise, as did the entire production.
Nelson closed the 1980s with the William Lustig thriller, Relentless (1989), in which he plays a Los Angeles serial killer hunted by two police officers (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.
Nelson began the 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. In the Fall of 1990 he appeared on stage in Chicago and New York in Jules Feiffer's Carnal Knowledge with Jon Cryer. He then worked for a second time with Adam Rifkin, this time starring in The Dark Backward (1991) with Bill Paxton. This quirky comedy 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.
In 1991, he had 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. He then had a special guest appearance in the 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. Nelson 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. He had a starring role on the NBC television sitcom Suddenly Susan (1996), which saw success for a four-season run. He had a starring role in the Shaquille O'Neal 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 (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 played Alan Freed in the latter's life story, Mr. Rock 'N' Roll: The Alan Freed Story (1999) opposite Mädchen Amick and Paula Abdul.
2000s to present day
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, Psych (2010), and a recurring role in Two and a Half Men (2010) with Charlie Sheen.
Films include 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. 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. In 2012, Nelson played the role of Headmaster Nash in the live-action feature film Bad Kids Go to Hell, based on the 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, Eon, and Atomic-X in Ben 10: Omniverse.
In 2013, Nelson authored four books released on Kindle: The Power of Speech, Nine of Diamonds, The Gig, and Water Music.
Nelson played a lead role in the 2010 Hallmark movie, Cancel Christmas. He portrayed Chris Frost, who is also Santa Claus.
In 2019, he starred in the suspense thriller, "Dead Water".
|1983||Rock 'n' Roll Hotel||Rocker Johnny|
|1984||Making the Grade||Eddie Keaton|
|1985||The Breakfast Club||John Bender||Won – MTV Movie Silver Bucket of Excellence Award|
|St. Elmo's Fire||Alec Newbury|
|Fandango||Phil Hicks, Groover|
|1986||The Transformers: The Movie||Hot Rod / Rodimus Prime||Voice|
|Blue City||Billy Turner|
|1987||From the Hip||Robin 'Stormy' Weathers|
|1989||Relentless||Arthur 'Buck' Taylor|
|Never on Tuesday||Motorcycle Cop||Uncredited|
|1990||Far Out Man||Himself||Cameo|
|1991||New Jack City||Nick Peretti|
|The Dark Backward||Marty Malt|
|1992||Primary Motive||Andrew Blumenthal|
|1993||Conflict of Interest||Gideon|
|1994||Every Breath||Jimmy||Also Writer and Producer|
|Hail Caesar||Prisoner One|
|Blindfold: Acts of Obsession||Dr. Jannings||Television film|
|Caroline at Midnight||Phil Gallo|
|1996||For a Few Lousy Dollars||Hitman|
|1999||Light It Up||Ken Knowles|
|2000||Endsville||Rufus the Buck-Toothed Sluggard|
|Falcon Down||Harold Peters|
|2001||Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back||Sheriff|
|Return to Cabin by the Lake||Stanley||Television film|
|The Cure for Boredom||Max|
|2003||White Rush||Brian Nathanson|
|The Lost Angel||Father Brian|
|2007||Netherbeast Incorporated||Steven P.D. Landry|
|2008||The Caretaker||Ella's dad|
|The Day the Earth Stopped||Charlie|
|A Single Woman||Jewish reporter|
|Little Hercules in 3-D||Kevin|
|The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day||Concezio Yakavetta|
|2010||The Terror Experiment (Fight or Flight)||Agent Wilson|
|Mayor Cupcake||Donald Maroni|
|2012||Bad Kids Go to Hell||Headmaster Nash|
|2013||Last Chance Holiday||Glenn Cartwell|
|Down and Dangerous||Charles||Nominated – Maverick Movie Award|
|2014||Nurse 3D||Dr. Morris|
|Bigfoot Wars||Dr. Smith|
|Private Number||Sheriff Stance|
|Road to the Open||Anger Management Counseler|
|2016||Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story||Sid Dalton|
|2018||Billionaire Boys Club||Ryan Hunt|
|2019||Dead Water||San McLean|
|Electric Jesus||Pastor Wember|
|Dauntless: The Battle of Midway||Admiral R.A. Spruance|
|2022||The Most Dangerous Game||Marcus Rainsford||Completed|
|1987||Billionaire Boys Club||Joe Hunt||2 episodes|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
|1990||Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes||Pete Dunham||Television film|
|1992||Tales from the Crypt||Gaston||Episode: "What's Cookin'"|
|1995||Circumstances Unknown||Paul Kinsey||Television film|
|1996–1999||Suddenly Susan||Jack Richmond||71 episodes|
|1999||Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story||Alan Freed||Television film|
|2000||The Outer Limits||Harry Longworth||Episode: "Something About Harry"|
|2000||Cabin by the Lake||Stanley||Television film|
|2000||The Spiral Staircase||Phillip Warren||Television film|
|2000||The New Adventures of Spin and Marty: Suspect Behavior||Jack Hulka||Television film|
|2001||Strange Frequency||Martin Potter||Television film|
|2001||Lost Voyage||Aaron Roberts||Television film|
|2002||Santa Jr.||Darryl Bedford||Television film|
|2005||Three Wise Guys||George||Television film|
|2006||Black Hole||Eric||Television film|
|2006||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Mick Sheridan||Episode: "Time of Your Death"|
|2007||Las Vegas||Ollie||Episode: "Fleeting Cheating Meeting"|
|The Kidnapping||Glen||Television film|
|CSI: NY||Cigarette Company Executive||Episode: "The Ride In"|
|Family Guy||John Bender||Voice, episode: "Blue Harvest"|
|2008||Infected||Malcolm Burgess||Television film|
|2009||Phineas and Ferb||The Guru||Voice, episode: "Isabella and the Temple of Sap"|
|Transformers: Animated||Rodimus Prime||Voice, episode: "TransWarped Part 1"|
|2010||Psych||Dr. Steven Reidman||Episode: "Death Is in the Air"|
|Two and a Half Men||Chris McElroy||2 episodes|
|2011||Cancel Christmas||Santa / Chris Frost||Television film|
|2013–2014||Ben 10: Omniverse||Eon, Ben 10,000, Atomic-X||Voice, 5 episodes|
|2013||Nikita||Ronald Peller||2 episodes|
|2015, 2019||Empire||Billy Beretti||5 episodes|
|2017||Transformers: Titans Return||Rodimus Prime / Hot Rod||Voice, main role|
|2017||From Straight A's to XXX||Don||Television film|
|2018||Transformers: Power of the Primes||Rodimus Prime / Hot Rod / Rodimus Cron||Voice, recurring role|
|2021||Girl in the Basement||Don Cody||Television film|
|2021||Law & Order: SVU||Tom Mesner||Episode: "Post-Graduate Psychopath"|
|2012||"Gotten"||Slash featuring Adam Levine|
- "Judd Nelson Biography". Biography. September 6, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- "Judd Nelson". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- Herzfeld, Laura (October 3, 2012). "Judd Nelson on religion in movies, 'Breakfast Club,' and his new film 'Just 45 Minutes from Broadway'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 9, 2015.
- Peck, Abraham J.; Jean M. Peck (2007). Maine's Jewish Heritage. Arcadia Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7385-4965-1.
- Film Reference.com.
- Bartlett, Will (January 9, 1996). "Lillian D. Royte Strong Believer in Public Service". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
- "Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me) Breakfast Club". YouTube.
- Blum, David (June 10, 1985). "Hollywood's Brat Pack". New York.
- Ebert, Roger (September 16, 1988). "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam". Chicago Sun-Times – via RogerEbert.com.
- "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam". Rotten Tomatoes. November 15, 2005. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- Sullivan, Dan (October 10, 1988). "STAGE REVIEW: 'Seagull' Is a Flight of Caring, Knowing". Los Angeles Times.
- "Never on Tuesday". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- "Far Out Man". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- Willis, John, ed. (February 1, 2000). Carnal Knowledge. Hal Leonard Corp. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-55783-126-2.
- "New Jack City (1991)". Box Office Mojo. May 21, 1991. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- "Steel". Rotten Tomatoes.
- Spears, Steve (November 28, 2006). "That's Mr. Nelson to you". Tampa Bay Times.
- "Judd Nelson & Peter Fonda Join The Cast Of 'Boondock Saints 2'". Geeks of Doom. December 5, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
- "Judd Nelson". Goodreads. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
- Masters, Megan (August 20, 2013). "Nikita Exclusive: Brat Packer Judd Nelson to Go Undercover for Major Final Season Arc". TVLine. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
- Crump, William D. (April 27, 2017). How the Movies Saved Christmas: 228 Rescues from Clausnappers, Sleigh Crashes, Lost Presents and Holiday Disasters. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-6488-0.
- Andreeva, Nellie (October 6, 2020). "Lifetime Greenlights 'Girl In The Basement' Movie Starring Stefanie Scott, Judd Nelson & Joely Fisher; Elisabeth Rohm Directs". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
- "Judd Nelson (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved November 28, 2023. A green check mark indicates that a role has been confirmed using a screenshot (or collage of screenshots) of a title's list of voice actors and their respective characters found in its opening and/or closing credits and/or other reliable sources of information.
- "The Caretaker Takin' Care of the Killin' Teens Business". DreadCentral. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2010.