The actress known for her roles in “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink,” and on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is at Brookline Booksmith Tuesday night at 7 to talk about her latest book, “When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories.”
‘I still enjoy [acting]. It has also enabled me to be able to write. I’m extremely fortunate, and aware of that.’
Q. As a child, you wanted to be a singer, writer, and actress — in that order — and you did it. Did you do it in that order?
A. It didn’t happen in the order I originally intended as a 3-, 4-, or 6-year-old. I definitely thought when I was that age that I would do something with singing. The acting took over and gobbled up everything else.
Q. Can you manage all three at the same time with a family?
A. At this point acting is still the most financially lucrative, so in terms of raising a family, that’s something I don’t want to give up, and not just for the money. I still enjoy it. It has also enabled me to be able to write. I’m extremely fortunate, and aware of that.
Q. In a recent NPR interview, you talked about watching movies and plays with your father, jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, who is blind. You said you are very good at describing everything and that it “informed” your writing. How so?
A. When you are raised with a blind parent you do kind of take on that role. It’s always been important to me to be able to describe things well, and I took pride in that. I was able to describe important details that most people might not be aware of. I wouldn’t just describe the person who was talking, I would describe a look on a person’s face in the background. I would describe the lighting.
Q. You put your book characters through a test by asking yourself if you want to play them as an actress. Talk about the “test” and how that also played into the film “The Breakfast Club.”
A. I read the script out loud to my dad and it was the best, so much fun. I got to play all the characters. I keep [the test] in mind when I’m writing. Would I like to play these characters. Are they complex? Are they flawed? Are they original? Are they unique? I have to want to hang out with the characters. I gotta be there for them, and they have to be there for me.
Q. Why is betrayal the thread throughout the book?
A. I felt like I was seeing it all around me. Someone very close to me was betrayed in her first marriage years ago. If you talk to her now she still starts to shake and cry, and she’s happily married now. Of the two friends I made at my daughter’s school, I’m the only one that’s happily married. It’s a rich thing for a writer to write about.
Q. Second chances crop up in the book. Do you give second chances?
A. I do believe in second chances. I don’t know if I believe in third chances.
Q. In the radio interview you said you didn’t want your 3-year-old twins and 8-year-old daughter to act professionaly. How would you explain it to them?
A. With my twins I don’t have to yet because they haven’t expressed any desire. With my
8-year-old I try to explain that it’s something she can do when she’s older. It’s a very hard business and if she gets a good education it will make her a better actress. It’s all I can do.
Q. Are you interested in script writing?
A. Yeah, absolutely. I’m interested in adapting “When It Happens to You” into a film. I’m actively in talks.
Q. The late John Hughes directed you in “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” and was also a mentor. He told you to write and direct. You’re halfway there, would you like to direct?
A. Absolutely. I want to write and direct [“When It Happens to You”] and if I play a part I would want to play Marina because she’s the only redhead. I’m kidding, she’s very strong.