Thirty-five years after his performance in Rob Reiner’s classic coming-of-age film ‘Stand By Me’, Wil Wheaton explains how the abuse he faced as a child empowered his work at the screen.
Wheaton, 48, spoke with Yahoo! Films on the 35th anniversary of the release of “Stand By Me” and reflected on his experience as a child star.
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“I didn’t want to be an actor when I was a kid,” Wheaton said. “My parents forced me to do it, my mother forced me to do it. My mom advised me to go to her agency and tell the children’s agent, “I want to do what mom is doing.” And through a combination of incredible emotional abuse from my dad and a lot of manipulations, using me, my mom, it really put me in this place.
Wheaton’s mother was an actress and her father was a medical specialist. He is currently separated from them.
Speaking about how the abuse he suffered from his parents influenced his portrayal of Gordie, a young boy whose parents were grappling with the loss of their oldest son (John Cusack), Wheaton said : ” [It] put me in exactly the right place to play Gordie.
“Because Gordie’s experience reflected my experience well. We are both invisible in our homes, ”he explained. “We both have a brother who is the golden child. We are both the scapegoat for the family. So when I watch “Stand by Me” now, I can’t ignore the incredible sadness in my eyes. And I can’t ignore the reality that it was this sadness, this isolation that I think gave me what Gordie needed to come to life and I think Rob Reiner saw it.
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After “Stand By Me”, Wheaton went on to play major acting roles in the 1991 film “Toy Soldiers” and in the television show “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. But today he is above all a writer who has beautiful symmetry given that Gordie was an aspiring writer.
“I guess I want to be a writer, which makes me Gordie,” he said. “I never realized until my forties that I was Gordie because I was Gordie.