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Judd Nelson

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Judd Nelson
Nelson in 2006
Judd Asher Nelson

(1959-11-28) November 28, 1959 (age 64)
Years active1983–present
Notable work

Judd Asher Nelson (born November 28, 1959) is an American actor. His acting roles include 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.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

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.[3][4] His father was the first Jewish president of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.[5][6][7] He has two sisters, Eve and Julie.[1][2]

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.[8] He 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 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) that made Nelson a star. He was affiliated with the Brat Pack of young 1980s actors, 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.[2] 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.[9] A subsequent article in New York magazine, which focused primarily on the success of these films, resulted in the term "Brat Pack" being coined.[10]

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.[11][12]

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.[2] 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.[13]

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.[14][15]

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 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.[16] 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.[17] 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).[2][18]

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.[2]

2000s to present day[edit]

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.[19] 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.[2][20] 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.[21]

Nelson played a pivotal role in the final season of Nikita.[22]

Nelson played a lead role in the 2010 Hallmark movie, Cancel Christmas. He portrayed Chris Frost, who is also Santa Claus.[23]

In 2019, he starred in the suspense thriller, Dead Water.

In 2021, Nelson starred as Don Cody in the Lifetime film Girl in the Basement which was inspired by the Fritzl case.[24]



Year Title Role Notes
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[25]
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
Entangled David
1994 Every Breath Jimmy Also Writer and 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 Blackwater Trail Matt
1996 For a Few Lousy Dollars Hitman
1997 Steel Nathaniel Burke
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
Dark Asylum Quitz
The Cure for Boredom Max
2002 Deceived Jack Jones
2003 White Rush Brian Nathanson
2005 Lethal Eviction Shep
The Lost Angel Father Brian
2006 National Lampoon's TV: The Movie Fear Factor Host/Judd
2007 Netherbeast Incorporated Steven P.D. Landry
Nevermore Jonathon Usher
2008 The Caretaker Ella's dad[26]
The Day the Earth Stopped Charlie
2009 Dirty Politics Billy
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
Endure Emory Lane
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
1/1 Robert
2019 Dead Water San McLean
Santa Fake Seb
Electric Jesus Pastor Wember
Dauntless: The Battle of Midway Admiral R.A. Spruance
2022 The Most Dangerous Game Marcus Rainsford Completed


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Moonlighting Policeman Episode: "Camille"
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 Cybermutt Alex 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"[25]
Transformers: Animated Rodimus Prime Voice, episode: "TransWarped Part 1"[25]
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[25]
2013 Nikita Ronald Peller 2 episodes
2015, 2019 Empire Billy Beretti 5 episodes
2017 Transformers: Titans Return Rodimus Prime / Hot Rod Voice, main role[25]
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[25]
2021 Girl in the Basement Don Cody Television film

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist
1985 "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" John Parr
2012 "Gotten" Slash featuring Adam Levine


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Sleeping Dogs Henry Hitchcock Mark Taper Forum
Planet Fires Sling and Bartender
Orphans Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre, Jupiter, Florida
1988 The Seagull Konstantin The Los Angeles Theatre Center
Temple Paulie American Jewish Theatre, New York City
1990 Carnal Knowledge Jonathan Fuerst Martin R. Kaufman Theatre, New York City
2001 The Cocktail Hour The Cape Playhouse, Massachusetts
2003 He She Them The Shubert Theatre


  1. ^ a b c "Judd Nelson Biography". Biography. September 6, 2019. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Judd Nelson". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  3. ^ "Judd Nelson: The truth about my Brat Pack past… and social media's future".
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Peck, Abraham J.; Jean M. Peck (2007). Maine's Jewish Heritage. Arcadia Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7385-4965-1.
  6. ^ Film Reference.com.
  7. ^ Bartlett, Will (January 9, 1996). "Lillian D. Royte Strong Believer in Public Service". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved March 27, 2008.
  8. ^ "Judd Nelson: The truth about my Brat Pack past… and social media's future".
  9. ^ "Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me) Breakfast Club". YouTube.
  10. ^ Blum, David (June 10, 1985). "Hollywood's Brat Pack". New York.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 16, 1988). "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam". Chicago Sun-Times – via RogerEbert.com.
  12. ^ "Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam". Rotten Tomatoes. November 15, 2005. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  13. ^ Sullivan, Dan (October 10, 1988). "STAGE REVIEW: 'Seagull' Is a Flight of Caring, Knowing". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ "Never on Tuesday". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  15. ^ "Far Out Man". IMDb. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  16. ^ Willis, John, ed. (February 1, 2000). Carnal Knowledge. Hal Leonard Corp. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-55783-126-2. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  17. ^ "New Jack City (1991)". Box Office Mojo. May 21, 1991. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  18. ^ "Steel". Rotten Tomatoes.
  19. ^ Spears, Steve (November 28, 2006). "That's Mr. Nelson to you". Tampa Bay Times.
  20. ^ "Judd Nelson & Peter Fonda Join The Cast Of 'Boondock Saints 2'". Geeks of Doom. December 5, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  21. ^ "Judd Nelson". Goodreads. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  22. ^ Masters, Megan (August 20, 2013). "Nikita Exclusive: Brat Packer Judd Nelson to Go Undercover for Major Final Season Arc". TVLine. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ a b c d e f "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.
  26. ^ "The Caretaker Takin' Care of the Killin' Teens Business". DreadCentral. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2010.

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