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In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment last week, Stand by Me star Wil Wheaton revealed that a painful childhood fueled his performance as the troubled Gordie in the 1986 coming-of-age classic.
"Through a combination of an incredible emotional abuse from my father and a lot of manipulation, using me, from my mother, it really put me in that place," Wheaton told us, noting that his actress mother forced him into a childhood show business career.
One of Wheaton's co-stars, Jerry O’Connell, reacted to Wheaton's comments with sympathy and encouragement on Wednesday while guest-hosting CBS's The Talk.
"I love Wil. He's a great friend of mine. We've obviously been friends for 35 years now. That film was 35 years ago. I had no idea he was feeling this when we were doing this film," O’Connell told co-hosts Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots, Elaine Welteroth and fellow guest host Jaime Camil.
O'Connell sees Wheaton's candid revelations as a teachable moment.
"I think what should be said is, you have no idea, not even co-workers, just people close to you, you have no idea what is going on with someone. So, if you sense anything is amiss, anything weird, it costs you nothing to go up to them and say, 'Hey is everything OK? Is anything going on? Do you want someone to talk to?' I just think even saying that I think reaches a hand out to someone."
O’Connell added that he has "great memories" from filming Stand by Me – which were largely shared by Wheaton when it came to the bonding experience with O'Connell and costars Corey Feldman and River Phoenix.
"But I wish I was older back then so I could have said, 'Hey Wil, hey man is anything [wrong]?'" O'Connell said. "But I do love Wil and he's doing great. He does a lot for Paramount+, for Star Trek, he's doing great."
While Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 at the age of 23 and Wheaton says he's no longer in touch with Feldman, Wheaton's love for O'Connell was apparent during our interview.
Wheaton, now an author, audiobook narrator and host of the Star Trek after-show The Ready Room, also credited Stand by Me director Rob Reiner for perfectly casting the film's four young leads.
"One of the reasons I believe Stand by Me is so enduring is that Rob cast four young boys who were our characters," Wheaton told us. "Corey was such a pain in the ass and I said to Rob, 'Why did you cast him?' And Rob said, 'There was no other actor who was as angry as Corey was. And Teddy is filled with anger and rage.' And I went, ‘Oh my God, that totally makes sense.' River is smarter than all of us and wiser beyond his years than any of us are. And that's exactly who Chris is. And Jerry is unbelievably funny, and really easy to get along with, and is guileless. 'Oh my God, that's Vern.'
"I guess I want to be a writer so that makes me Gordie. I never realized until I was in my 40s that I was Gordie because I was Gordie."
Watch our original interview with Wil Wheaton:
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‘Pearl Harbor’ at 20: Kate Beckinsale says she didn’t make sense to Michael Bay ‘because I wasn’t blond and my boobs weren’t bigger than my head’
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