You may not remember his name, but his face is unforgettable. Michael Schoeffling was the epitome of an 80s hunk – tall, dark, handsome, and brooding.
He perfectly brought this type of character to life when he played Jake Ryan in the cult classic Sixteen Candles. But while his costar Molly Ringwald may have gone onwards and upwards to a star in a spate of coming-of-age films, Schoeffling primarily disappeared, leaving many fans begging the question, what is Michael Schoeffling doing today? (and does he still have his striking good looks?!)
Where It All Began
Schoeffling was born on December 10th, 1960, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His family, including a young and older brother, relocated to New Jersey.
He was raised between the Delaware River and the great Atlantic in South Jersey. There, he attended Cherokee High School in Evesham Township, New Jersey, before heading back to his birth state to obtain a liberal arts degree at Temple University in Philadelphia.
At both schools, Schoeffling was known for his athletic abilities. Proving Jake Ryan’s persona was more than just an on-screen facade. He was a talented wrestler, competing on the US Jr. Wrestling Team and winning various national and international championships.
After graduating in the early 80s, Schoeffling pivoted from his college degree and became wary of his career path.
First, he moved to Europe and traveled the country. Then, Schoeffling began modeling for GQ. It was then that he teamed up with photographer Bruce Weber, who started paying for acting classes for Schoeffling at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in Manhattan. Between modeling and fine-tuning his acting chops, Schoeffling was regularly put in touch with casting directors. It wasn’t long before he met one who gave him his first significant role.
At the age of 23, having only played a minor uncredited role in a film called Racing with the Moon, Schoeffling was awarded the lead role of Jake Ryan in the 1984 classic (yet problematic) Sixteen Candles.
He would star alongside Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall. John Hughes directed the film, in which Schoeffling’s character was a teen heartthrob and the object of Samantha "Sam" Baker’s pining. The film was a success, and Schoeffling’s career seemed to be starting with a bang!
He received role after role, working diligently throughout the decade. Schoeffling appeared in Sylvester, Let’s Get Harry, Belizaire the Cajun, Longtime Companion, Mermaids, and Slaves of New York.
He also played Kenny "Kuch" Kuchera in the film Vision Quest. Interestingly, it was about a high school wrestler and Schoeffling played the main character’s wrestling opponent.
Despite receiving acting parts regularly, none of them brought Schoeffling the fame and success of sixteen candles. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken in 1991 would be his last film credit. At this time, the thirty-one-year-old decided acting wasn’t for him, citing a lack of roles.
In addition to a shortage of prospects, Schoeffling now had a family to look after. While modeling, he met another model at his agency Zoli. The woman, Valerie Robinson, became his wife in 1987. One year later, the pair had their first child, Zane. In 1991, around the time he quit acting, they welcomed their daughter Scarlett.
What is Michael Schoeffling Doing Now?
When Schoeffling retired from acting, he chose a career path that few would expect. He settled down in northeastern Pennsylvania with his family and began a hand-crafted furniture business. He has been quoted saying, ""The thing about furniture that’s much better than acting is that it’s just me. There’s no director, no script — the concept is me; unless a client wants something. In film work, you do the best you can under the given circumstances, but you don’t have control."
Three years later, the former actor still owns and operates a woodworking shop in his hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
His daughter, Scarlett, has tried her hand at acting while Zane leads a quieter life. While Schoeffling is not active on social media, his daughter Scarlett is.
She occasionally posts updates about her iconic 80s crush of a father. For his part, when Schoeffling said goodbye to the spotlight in 1991, he did so for good, living a modest and quiet life far away from the headlines.