Whatever Happened to 80s Star Sean Young?

Mary Sean Young is a fantastic star actress that has made a name for herself with outstanding movie performances in the sci-fi genre. Some of her earlier roles came up from 1980-81 in the comedy “Stripes” and the romantic flick “Jane Austen in Manhattan”.

Sean Young / Sean Young and Kevin Costner / Sean Young / Sean Young
Source: Getty Images

However, the movie that brought Sean into the limelight was when she played the role of Rachael in the sci-fi movie “Blade Runner.” Sean is also a wife and mother who has experienced her fair share of ups and downs in her movie career and life in general.

Sean Young started Life in Kentucky

The beautiful Sean Young was born on November 20, 1959, in Louisville, Kentucky. Donald Young Jr., Young’s father, was a TV producer and journalist, and her mother, Lee Guthrie, (born Mary Lee Kane), is a screenwriter, journalist, and public relations executive.

A screen grab from old home movies of Sean Young.
Source: YouTube

Sean has Irish, Swiss-German, and English ancestry. Her parents raised her alongside her older brother Donald and sister Cathleen in Cleveland, Ohio. As a young girl, Young intended to have a career in dance and followed that path by learning ballet.

The Little Beginnings that Led to Bigger Things

Mary enrolled in “Cleveland Heights High School located in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, but she did not graduate. Young then attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan, and the School of American Ballet in New York City.

Sean Young does a high kick.
Source: Imgur

She studied to become a ballerina at the school, but she also modeled. Though Young did not enjoy modeling very much, it was one of the essential things that helped her get into the entertainment industry.

Young Lands Her First Movie Role at Age 20

Sean’s mother saw her daughter’s talent and wasted no time assisting the young lady with her New York connections. In no time, Young got an agent to help with her acting, and soon enough, she landed her first acting role in 1980.

Sean Young and Nancy New in a still from Jane Austen in Manhattan.
Source: Contemporary Films

Sean’s first gig was to play a small supporting role in the drama “Jane Austen in Manhattan.” The movie was not a significant success, but it was a great start and the boost Young needed to begin her acting career. “Jane Austen in Manhattan” was an Ismail Merchant and James Ivory production.

The Roles Start Rolling in for the Young Actress

Sean Young landed her next role in 1981 for the comedy film “Stripes.” The movie stars Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, the two eggheads who decided to join the army. Young and her co-star P.J. Soles played the military police officers who become Bill and Harold’s love interests.

The cast of Stripes poses on top of a tank.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Columbia Pictures

“Stripes” director Ivan Reitman did not hide the fact that Young got the role primarily because of her looks and the feeling she brought to the movie. Ivan explained that the young actress brought a “sweetness” to Louise Cooper’s character.

Young celebrated her 21st Birthday on the Set of ‘Stripes’

“Stripes” was a career turning point for Sean because she started gaining more exposure in acting. The first day of shooting “Stripes” was an exciting time for the aspiring actress because it coincided with Young’s 21st Birthday (November 20).

Sean Young and P.J. Soles in a still from Stripes.
Source: Columbia Pictures

Interestingly, the next day on set was the birthday of her co-star, Harold Remis. Although Young was Harold’s love interest in the movie, he was much older than she was. November 21, 1980, Ramis turned 36.

The ‘Stripes’ Actress was Not on Good Terms with co-star Bill Murray

Bill Murray is a silver-screen comedy legend who co-starred in “Stripes” alongside Sean Young. However, Young was not moved by his popularity and did not like his method of handling things. The two were at odds throughout the production.

Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Sean Young, and P.J. Soles are on the set of Stripes
Source: Columbia Pictures

Thankfully, director Ivan Reitman encouraged Murray, John Candy, and other comedy star cast members, and they were able to improvise throughout the movie set. Nonetheless, there was still so much tension between the cast members that Murray said he would never work with Young again.

The Screen Test for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

In the United States alone, “Stripes” raked in about $85 million, and it was the most prominent US box office film of 1981. After “Stripes,” Young almost landed the lead role for what became the top blockbuster of the year, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Tom Selleck and Sean Young during a screen test for Indiana Jones.
Source: Reddit

Among other actresses who auditioned for the lead role of “Marion Ravenwood,” the love interest of Indiana Jones, Young was one of those highly considered. Sadly, after the screen test alongside Tom Selleck, Karen Allen was cast as Marion and Indiana Jones was Harrison Ford.

When One Door Closes, ‘Blade Runner’ Opens Up

Sean Young may not have gotten the lead female role for Indiana Jones, but she still got another role as Harrison Ford’s love interest in his next movie. In 1982, the science fiction thriller “Blade Runner” directed by Ridley Scott was released.

Sean Young as Rachael in a still from the film.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

Sean played the character of Rachael, an artificial human who believed she was a real human being. Out of all the females who auditioned, Mary got the role because she had the look and attitude Ridley needed. Young swept competitors like Nina Axelrod aside, and Blade Runner became her third movie.

Young Thought Ridley was Controlling on Set

“Blade Runner” happens to be one of the greatest science fiction movies to have ever been produced. However, there was a lot of tension on set due to Ridley Scott’s excessive expectations. The moment Young was on set, she experienced Scott’s perfectionist ways.

Ridley Scott demonstrates his grip on Harrison Ford in between takes.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

She recalled that the first time she walked into his office, Ridley asked her if she liked their owl. He then made her repeat “’Owl’ – one syllable – not ‘ow-well.'” It was her first day, and it took 26 takes to get the pronunciation right. “He was very controlling in that regard,” she said.

Katherine Haber Became Young’s Acting Coach

At the age of 21, Young already had two movie roles to her name when they began working on “Blade Runner.” Due to her limited experience in the acting field, Scott had some doubts about whether she could effectively play Rachael’s character.

Harrison Ford, Katherine Haber, and Ridley Scott on the set of Blade Runner.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

He assigned production executive Katherine Haber to be Young’s acting coach. Before shooting for the movie began, Katherine spent two weeks helping Young nail the script to meet Scott’s expectations. “It was a great experience, and we are friends today,” Haber said.

The Lead Actor and Actress Did Not Get Along

The leading man Harrison Ford recalls that shooting “Blade Runner” was a painful experience because of the multiple disagreements. He was already at odds with director Riley Scott, He didn’t get along with his leading lady Sean Young.

Harrison Ford and Sean Young in a still from Blade Runner.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

Though the reason for the mutual disdain between the Young and Harrison is unknown, they still tried to make it work. It’s not unusual to find tension on movie sets, and in this case, lead characters Deckard (Harrison) and Rachael (Young) were meant to become lovers in the film.

The Love Scene that Became the ‘Hate Scene’

In the famous “Blade Runner,” the film’s crew described a strange and problematic love scene as a “hate scene.” Young explained that scene as what happens when you’re 21 and insecure, but you hope your leading man will be empathic enough to console you. Harrison did nothing like that.

Harrison Ford pushes Sean Young up agains the blinds in a scene from Blade Runner.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

Young was in actual pain while shooting the “hate scene” after Ford pushed her against the blinds. Her back was hurt and Young cried a lot, but she felt that was what Scott wanted. Ford was not oblivious to what had happened but did not act immediately. Shortly after the incident, Ford affectionately mooned Mary to cheer her up.

The Writer of ‘Blade Runner’ was Obsessed with Young

The concept of “Blade Runner” came from the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by science fiction author Philip K. Dick. Unfortunately, Philip died before the movie’s completion, but he lived long enough to watch some early footage.

A polaroid of Sean Young on the set of Blade Runner.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

He loved all the scenes, but he particularly loved how Young played the Rachael character. With so much enthusiasm, Dick described Young as the “super-destructive cruel, beautiful dark-haired woman that I eternally write about. Now I’ve seen a photograph of her, and I know that she exists, and I will seek her out, and presumably, she will destroy me.”

Young Affirms the Theory that Deckard is a Replicant

One aspect of “Blade Runner” that many gossiped about is whether Harrison Ford’s character “Hunter Deckard” was, in fact, a replicant. Ford disagreed with the claim, director Ridley said yes, and Young took sides with Ridley.

Sean Young and Harrison Ford on the set of
Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

In an interview with Empire, Young said she always believed Deckard was a replicant because Riley always said so. “As I recall, at the end of the picture, he has that unicorn.” The unicorn is an origami figure by Edward James Olmos, who plays the character Gaff. Deckard dreamed of a unicorn on that set.

‘Blade Runner’ was Unpopular in the US After its Release

After putting so much effort into the shooting process, “Blade Runner” was finally released to US cinemas on June 25, 1982. The release happened two weeks after Stephen Spielberg’s science fiction fantasy movie “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” was released.

Blade Runner poser art.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Warner Bos.

While “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial” became one of the biggest blockbusters ever, “Blade Runner” was unpopular. In addition, the first few reviews for Riley’s sci-fi film were mostly zero stars, and it seemed like the movie would be forgotten fast. Thankfully, the major criticism went to Ford and Scott, not Sean.

Japanese Fans Were Obsessed with ‘Blade Runner’

“Blade Runner” may have received much backlash from the US box office, but the movie reeled in many fans in Japan. In the mid-80s, Young became aware that she had Japanese admirers when she received regular fan mail from Japan.

Sean Young smokes in a scene from the film 'Blade Runner'.
Photo by Warner Brothers/Getty Images

The enthusiasm for “Blade Runner” overseas gradually led to a renewed interest in the film back at home. This encouraged the production team to work on a re-release of “Blade Runner” in 1991. After its second release, the movie made it back to the top and was tagged as a masterpiece.

‘Young Doctors in Love’ came shortly After ‘Blade Runner’

“Blade Runner” was still airing in theatres when Sean Young got her next big role in July 1982. Gary Marshall cast her in the comedy film “Young Doctors in Love.” Although the movie was not as famous as “Blade Runner,” it was more profitable.

Sean Young poses with Michael McKean for the film Young Doctors in Love.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox

The film crew created the movie on a $7 million budget, and “Young Doctors in Love” reeled in about $31 million upon its release. This is a better return on investment compared to Blade Runner, which cost over $30 million to make and barely made $40 million.

Director Ridley Scott Bailed on Dune

After the release of “Young Doctors in Love,” it didn’t take long for Sean to land another role, in the big-budget science-fiction movie “Dune.” The film was based on a cult novel called “Dune,” a replica of Frank Herbert’s 1965 best-selling book.

Sean Young and Kyle MacLachlan in a still from Dune.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

Ridley Scott was meant to direct the movie, but he avoided the role because it was stuck in development shambles. Director David Lynch stepped up to the plate alongside producer Rafaella De Laurentiis. Young played the role of Chani, and Kyle MacLachlan played the young hero Paul Atreides.

Young Landed the Role for ‘Dune’ After Meeting the Director on an Airplane

Sean almost lost the chance of getting a role in “Dune” because of some mix-up with her screening test. Young received incorrect address details for her screening test. David and Rafaella thought Young chose not to show up for the screening.

Kyle MacLachlan, Sean Young, and David Lynch pose on the set of Dune.
Source: Twitter

Coincidentally, Young was on the same flight from New York to Los Angeles as director David and Rafaella. The three talked things through, got along quite well, and even shared a bottle of champagne. By the time they arrived in LA, Sean was assured of her casting in “Dune.”

The ‘Blade Runner’ Star Documented her Special Times in ‘Dune’

Compared to “Blade Runner,” “Dune” was not famous for its difficulties in shooting behind the scenes. However, Sean insisted that she enjoyed the time spent working on the movie. She loved it so much that she kept footage of her fun moments behind the scenes.

Sting and Sean Young in between takes on the set of Dune.
Source: Amazon

While on set in London, Young came along with her Super-8 camera to record hours of authentic footage. She has since then edited some of them and uploaded them on YouTube. In a voiceover, the actress said, “It was an international crew, we all loved it, we were all happy.”

‘Dune’ Performed Poorly After its Release

Dune came out in December 1984, but it did not tickle the fancy of audiences or critics. Among other negative comments, the major criticism the movie received was that it was too confusing. Due to the multiple bad reviews, “Dune” was deemed a box office flop.

Young and MacLachlan pose together on set.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

Sadly, the flop meant that there was no recovering the $40 million budget spent to produce the movie. Ultimately, all those involved in the production of Dune denied being a part of it. Lynch said he shouldn’t have produced the picture. On the other hand, Young said it was a happy experience for her and recognized that it was a stressful time for Lynch because he had invested so much in hopes that the movie would come out right.

Young Lands Her First TV Drama Role

Sean was starting to become more popular because she had a few movie roles to her name. Hence, she became the first target for the 1985 small-screen drama “Under the Biltmore Clock.” The F. Scott Fitzgerald series cast Young to play the leading role of Myra Harper.

Sean Young poses on the New York City skyline.
Photo by Andrea Alberts/Sygma/Getty Images

In 1985, the “Dune” star also starred in four episodes of another Fitzgerald TV series called “Tender is the Night.” Young did not forget about movies though, and that same year, she appeared in the Live Disney movie production “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.”

‘No Way Out’ Paved the Way for More Lead Roles

Shortly after starring in another TV miniseries, “Blood & Orchids,” in 1986, Young got back into the big-screen game. In 1987, Young played the female lead character alongside Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman in the thriller “No Way Out.”

Sean Young on the set of No Way Out.
Photo by Orion Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

Although the movie was considered an average box office hit, the scary film received credit for introducing Kevin as a major leading man. Kevin went on to become a part of some of the biggest movies in the late 80s and early 90s. Young was also commended for her outstanding job playing the character Susan Atwell.

Nude Scenes on ‘No Way Out’ Were Not Easy for Young

Before “No Way Out,” Sean had never appeared naked on camera. Though she stated that she was not uncomfortable in her birthday suit, Young also felt she wasn’t given much choice. In a 2020 documentary that talked about the history of nudity, Young spoke out.

Sean Young and Kevin Costner on the set of No Way Out.
Photo by Orion Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

For Young, as much as you may love to play a particular role, you can’t decide to do the nude scenes. She added that they bank on such roles as “part of their sexy project.” Director Roger Donaldson allegedly asked the dark-haired actress to lift her shirt while auditioning for the role.

Young’s Difficult Reputation Began on ‘Wall Street’

In the same year Young got the lead role in “No Way Out,” she also landed a good role in Oliver Stone’s drama “Wall Street.” The movie was so good that Michael Douglas received an Academy Award for his role as Gordon Gekko.

Sean Young plays the hostess in a still from Wall Street.
Source: YouTube

Sean Young would have gotten to play the supporting role of Douglas’ wife, Kete Gekko. However, Young merely appeared a few times toward the movie’s end. Later, it was discovered that her character appearance was reduced because of her alleged inability to work well with others on set.

Young Switched Her “Wall Street” Character with Daryl Hannah

“Blade Runner” co-star Daryl Hannah took on the second-most prominent female role, Darien Taylor, the girlfriend of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Director Stone and Hannah were not entirely happy about this development. Young was also uncomfortable with the situation.

Daryl Hannah as Darien Taylor from Wall Street.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox

She was very vocal about the issue and stated that Hannah was not a good fit for the role of Darien. Young told Director Stone that she should be the one to play Darien instead, and Hannah should play the role of Kate. Stone did not agree with this suggestion, which led to further tension on set.

Young was Also at Odds With Charlie Sheen

Based on rumors surrounding Stones’ refusal to give Young Hannah’s role, the actress began to show signs of disrespect on set. Young did not learn her lines, and she started arriving late to set. Co-star Charlie Sheen was one person who did not take kindly to such behavior.

 Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox on the set of Wall Street.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Twentieth Century Fox

Charlie did not fancy her rude and arrogant behavior that he came up with a high-school bully-like way to get back at Young. According to the actor, he sneakily taped a note on Young’s back that read, “I AM A C***.”

The Actress Makes it to the List of America’s Most Beautiful Women

Amid all the adverse reports surrounding Young’s acting career, she still received wide admiration for her beauty. Influential fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar honored the beautiful American actress in 1987.

A portrait of Sean Young.
Photo by Andrea Alberts/Sygma/Getty Images

Young made it to the list of America’s 10 most beautiful women alongside ladies like Andie MacDowell, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Anjelica Huston. The actress had a good relationship with the magazine and appeared on its cover in 1989.

She Tied the Knot with Robert Lujan in 1990

On November 24, four days after Young turned 31, she married actor/musician Robert Lujan. The pair met in 1985 while on the set of the TV series “Blood and Orchids.” After the wedding, Lujan played minor roles in some of Young’s movies.

Sean Young and Robert Lujan during American Tap Dance Orchestra Gala.
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Lujan was also part of her first substantial 90s movie called “Fire Birds,” aka “Wings of the Apache.” Young and Lujan divorced in 2002, but in an exciting turn of events, they reunited some years afterward and remarried in 2011.

Sean Young Welcomes Her First Child

While Young’s career faced a lot of negativities in the mid-90s, she still had the opportunity to celebrate a brand-new milestone in her life. Sean gave birth to her first son, Rio Lujan, on November 2, 1994. The actress and her family were thrilled with the new baby’s arrival.

Sean Young and sons Rio and Quinn during NYC Ballet Black-Tie Gala.
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

In January 1998, Young and Robert had a second son, Quinn Lujan. Young focused more on raising her sons and taking care of her family as time progressed. However, this did not mean the end of her acting career.

Major Movie Roles Flop and Young Earns Golden Raspberry Awards

Young experienced a long streak of bad luck in her career that did not stop as the 1990s progressed. She was part of the cast alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Nicolas Cage in the action thriller “Fire Birds.” Sadly, the movie made less than $15 million at the box office.

Matt Dillon and Sean Young in a still from A Kiss Before Dying.
Source: Moviestillsdb.com/Copyright: Universal Studios

In 1991, Young co-starred with Matt Dillon in the erotic thriller “A Kiss Before Dying.” Sadly, just like “Fire Birds,” the movie also flopped, and Young won Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress. “Love Crimes” was the next, and she received another Razzie nomination.

The Era of Legal Issues Begin for the Actress

James Wood sued Young for physically harassing him and his fiancé in 1989. He reported that in addition to other violent acts, Sean left a dismembered doll on his doorstep. Young denied the allegations and claimed that Woods filed the lawsuit because he despised her.

Sean Young poses for the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Photo by Kypros/Getty Images

On February 26, Young was arrested at an after-party for the 84th “Academy Awards.” The Actress was told to leave the premises because she did not have an entry ticket. A violent argument broke out, and Young slapped one of the security guards on duty. Young explained that she was not under the influence and that the security guard was hostile toward her. The charges were later dropped.

Young Could Not Play Vicki Vale in ‘Batman’

In 1989, Young would have played the role of Vicki Vale, the photojournalist and love interest of Bruce Wayne, but she sustained an injury while preparing for the role. She had to give up the part, and Kim Basinger replaced her at the last minute.

Sean Young poses in her cat woman costume.
Source: Imgur

The controversial actress was practicing horseback riding for a particular scene in the movie when she was thrown off the horse. Young broke her arm in the fall, and that scene did not end up in the final script.

She Blames Warren Beatty for her Dismissal from the Movie ‘Dick’

The “Wall Street” actress was initially poised to play the role of Tess Trueheart, the titular hero’s love interest in the 1990 hit movie “Dick Tracy”, but that did not happen. After a few days of filming, Young was fired from the show and replaced with Glenne Headly.

Glenne Headly and Warren Beatty in a still from Dick Tracy
Source: Touchstone Pictures

The official reason was that Sean Young was not “maternal” enough to take on the role, but she disagreed with this claim. Young blames Warren Beatty, the famous actor, writer, producer, and director, for taking her off the show because she refused his advances.

Warren Beatty Denies Young’s Allegations

The well-known playboy vehemently denied that he made any moves on Sean Young. Young explained that he kept making advances toward her for the seven days they worked together. She rebuffed his advances and jokingly called him a ladies’ man.

Warren Beatty posing by a red Mini car.
Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Young also made it clear that even though she joked, she never hid the fact that she was not interested in the actor. Beatty responded by saying he made a mistake casting Young for the part and felt terrible about it. However, he dated Madonna, who was part of the “Dick Tracy” cast.

Young Organized a Movie Tour Bus Service in Texas

For about 10 years, Young worked in Austin, Texas, and the place developed a strong movie culture. The development happened because producers visited the city and shot different movies there. Young recognized that Texas was a potential tourist market and decided to organize a film tour in 2017.

Young talks to the press outside her tour bus.
Source: YouTube

The film tour bore the name “Austin Film Tours,” and its role was to take a group of 12 on tour around interesting locations in Texas. The areas included the places used in movies like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

The Actress Responds to Questioning Based on a Burglary Suspicion

Although Young had already suffered lousy press throughout her career, she still managed to get involved in yet another incident. She made headlines in 2018 when it became public that she was called in for questioning by police in Astoria, New York.

Sean Young attends The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences event.
Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images

Surveillance cameras identified the actress and her son stealing two laptops from a production company where she was meant to direct a movie. After the incident, Young explained that there was a misunderstanding because she thought the laptops were her property. She returned the laptops, and thankfully, no charges were filed, but Young lost the director’s role when the producers fired her.

Young Admitted to Being an Alcoholic

At the 2008 Directors Guild of America Awards, Young was kicked out of the show because she interrupted the speakers on stage. After the scandalous removal from the Award show, Sean admitted that she was an alcoholic who needed help.

Sean Young attends a screening of Film Movement's
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

To this end, Young did her first stint in a rehabilitation center in hopes that she could kick the habit. Unfortunately, rehab didn’t take, and from 2008-10, the actress did not take on any acting role. She fell back to excessive drinking shortly after leaving rehab.

What is Sean Young Currently Doing (2022)?

She may have thought her acting career was over in 2015, but Sean Young is still acting presently. The Razzie Award nominee found work in some independent movie productions and has two movies (“Nick and Nicky” and “No Vacancy”) due for release in 2022.

Sean Young poses for a portrait during the Sundance Film Festival.
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

The actress has worked steadily since 1984, though her career has slowed down. She doesn’t work on big-budget movies, but she is still working on TV series like “The Young and the Restless.” Young is also managing her tourist business in Austin, Texas, where she currently lives.