Andrew McCarthy Is Back as an Unnerving Sex Offender in 'The Family'

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A lot has changed since Andrew McCarthy starred in such '80s classics as Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire, Mannequin and Weekend at Bernie's, and ET caught up with him before the debut of his unnerving new TV role.

In ABC's new drama, The Family, McCarthy plays a convicted sex offender who spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

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The former Hollywood heartthrob made a name for himself as the romantic guy in some of the most popular teen films beloved by Generation X, so how did he prepare for such a different character?

"I have three small children, so I didn't have to do any research," McCarthy told ET. "I know exactly the terror, but it was interesting playing someone who was a predator. A sexual predator is the worst thing you can be in our society."

In the decades since he stole Molly Ringwald's heart on the silver screen, McCarthy has opted for more gigs behind the scenes such as directing shows like Orange Is the New Black and The Blacklist, giving notes to his Pretty in Pink co-star, James Spader.

When The Family came along, the strong cast, led by Joan Allen, and intense storyline convinced McCarthy to step back in front of the camera. The show follows the return of a politician's young son who was presumed dead after disappearing more than a decade earlier, but some suspect the boy might not be who he says he is.

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"Everyone has a secret and an agenda, and they're trying to protect their secrets," McCarthy said of the show. "I think all that's very like life and complicated."

The Family premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.