This actor provides examples of:
- Enforced Method Acting: Frequently reduced Molly Ringwald (his co-star in The Breakfast Club) to tears when in character as Bender. Writer-director John Hughes was obviously not happy about this and actually almost fired Nelson, when Paul Gleason, ironically playing Nelson's on-screen nemesis, Principal Vernon, intervened on his behalf. He was also almost arrested at a laundromat when he approached a woman in character in the same role, only getting off when he explained to the cops that he was an actor.
- Jerk Jock
- Playing Against Type: He played an utterly irredeemable Serial Killer in Cabin by the Lake.
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Throw It In
- Younger Than He Looks: Even today, he tends to play characters significantly younger than his actual age.