‘Stand By Me’ - the classic 1986 adaptation of the Stephen King story - amazingly turns 30 this year. The film was blessed with a great director (Rob Reiner) and a fantastic young cast, but what have they been up to since?
River Phoenix (Chris)
Then: One of the most naturally talented and charismatic child stars of all-time, Phoenix’s untimely demise was foreshadowed in ‘Stand By Me’ during its poignant ending when grown-up Gordie (Richard Dreyfuss) reveals Chris died young after a knife fight. Only his second movie, the then-15-year-old actor went on to win plaudits for roles opposite Harrison Ford in 'The Mosquito Coast’, as young Indy in 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ and 'My Own Private Idaho’. He collapsed and died from drug-induced heart failure outside The Viper Room in LA on Halloween 1993, aged just 23.
Now: Like other movie stars who passed away before their time, Phoenix has taken on iconic status - not just for his on-screen abilities, but as a symbol of the dangers of Hollywood celebrity. Phoenix was halfway through shooting 'Dark Blood’ when he died, a film which remained unfinished until 2012 when it was shown at a few festivals. He was also supposed to have starred as the interviewer in 'Interview With The Vampire’, which was due to start filming two weeks after his death. Christian Slater took the role instead and donated his salary to two of Phoenix’s favourite charities.
Wil Wheaton (Gordie)
Then: Wheaton had done bits of TV and appeared in a small supporting role in classic Eighties cheesefest 'The Last Starfighter’ when he scored the lead of sensitive writer-in-waiting Gordie. He went on to star in cult classic 'Toy Soldiers’ and become a sci-fi legend courtesy of Wesley Crusher in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation’.
Now: Wheaton has never truly shaken off Crusher and now tends to play on his Trek association in sitcoms like 'The Big Bang Theory’. Aged 44, he focuses mainly on writing as well as maintaining his huge online presence. He has 3million Twitter followers, runs the massively successful blog wilwheaton.net and has authored a number of books. He also spoke up against misogyny in computer games during the ‘Gamergate’ controversy.
Corey Feldman (Teddy)
Then: The Eighties were an epic time for Feldman, who starred in classics ‘The Lost Boys’ and ‘The Goonies’ (as well as forgotten gems like ‘The ‘Burbs’) before establishing his partnership with Corey Haim. As damaged Teddy in ‘Stand By Me’, he showed off emotional skills as an actor which were often glossed over by his usual glib on-screen persona.
Now: Frankly, it’s a miracle Feldman is here at all. He emancipated himself from his parents when he was 15 and he has said that amongst other things his mother force-fed him diet pills, threatened to kill him and banned him from riding a bike in case he got injured and damaged the family meal ticket. He was 7. Not only that, but he revealed he was sexually abused by older men in the industry, was briefly best mates with Michael Jackson (who he defended against the paedophilia accusations), became addicted to drugs and watched his best friend Haim, also a narcotics addict, die aged only 38. Married and divorced twice with a young son, Feldman has starred in mostly joke roles since his heyday, as well as appearing on reality shows and at conventions. That’s if you don’t count quality B movies like ‘Zombex’, or being the voice of Donatello in ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (the ones with Vanilla Ice). In other words, he’s ripe for a Tarantino re-invention. Make it happen, Quentin.
Jerry O’Connell (Vern)
Then: As chubby jokester Vern, O’Connell famously tells the group he would eat cheery-flavoured Pez for the rest of his life. Having gone to stage school with Macaulay Culkin and Sarah Michelle Gellar, ‘Stand By Me’ was his proper acting debut, previously only appearing in adverts.
Now: His career as a child star didn’t really take off after the movie, so O’Connell went to university in New York before trying again in Hollywood. Now buff and handsome - much to the surprise of everyone who remembered him as Vern - he has gone on to a successful career on the big and small screen. Sci-fi fans know him as the star of time travel show ‘Sliders’, while he’s been in great movies like ‘Jerry Maguire’, okay ones such as ‘Scream 2’ and dreadful ones like ‘Kangaroo Jack’. Most recently, he appeared in the cinematic version of ‘Veronica Mars’, lent his voice to Superman in a ‘Justice League’ cartoon and was a guest star in ‘Mistresses’. He is married to Rebecca Romijn (the original Mystique from ‘X-Men’) and they have twin girls.
Kiefer Sutherland (Ace)
Then: As the evil leader of the gang which threatens Gordie and his mates, Sutherland, in one of his earliest roles, was known primarily as Donald Sutherland’s son before this movie and his starring turn in ‘The Lost Boys’ made him a star.
Now: The actor’s flinty charisma has ensured a diverse career, mixing nerdy goodies (‘Young Guns’), yuppie douchebags (‘Bright Lights, Big City’), racist scum (‘A Time To Kill’) and deadpan villains (‘Phone Booth’). Of course, he’s now best known as Jack Bauer in ‘24’, where his form of ambivalent heroism - the kind which can be twisted or finessed at any time - has turned the character into a TV hall-of-famer. His most recent film was a truly weird cameo in ‘Zoolander 2′. Off-screen, the star has had his struggles with booze, been married and divorced twice and most famously was publicly dumped by Julia Roberts for his (former, we assume) mate Jason Patric.
Photos: Everett/Rex/Cesare Bonazza/PA/ddp USA