It’s been 30 years since the coming of age classic Stand By Me was released, adapted from Stepen King’s novella ‘The Body’. This fantastic drama was led by the young quartet of River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Will Wheaton and Jerry O’Connell, who delivered performances beyond their years and worked their way into the hearts of generations of youngsters. But where are these actors now?
River Phoenix – Chris Chambers
The older brother of Joaquin Phoenix, River was already making a name for himself before starring in Stand By Me. River featured in the TV series of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers between 1981 & 1982, and in the same year as Stand By Me he also featured in the Harrison Ford starrer The Mosquito Coast playing Ford’s son Charlie in the film. River followed up these roles up with performances in Sneakers, My Own Private Idaho, and Running on Empty, the latter of which earned him Best Supporting Actor nods at the Oscars. River also had the honour of playing a young Indiana Jones at the start of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade. Sadly at 23 years of age, this young bundle of talent died as a result of a drug overdose. On the trajectory his career was going he could have wound up as one of the greatest actors to have ever lived.
Corey Feldman – Teddy Duchamp
Though Stand by Me was the film that was the breakout role for River Phoenix, Corey Feldman was already much better known than his counterpart before the films release. Following roles in the TV series of Bad News Bears, Feldman wound up starring in 80s classics Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Gremlins and The Goonies before he would grace the screen as Teddy Duchamp in Stand by Me. The remainder of the eighties saw Feldman star in other favourite films such as The Lost Boys and The ‘Burbs before he starting the nineties providing the voice for Donatello in the live action rubber suit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However it was at this point that Feldman’s career took a downswing following his battles with drug addiction. In recent years, outside of his musical pursuits in his band Truth Movement, Feldman has starred in numerous forgettable straight to DVD horror films, including two forgettable sequels to The Lost Boys and the franchise mashup Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys. Most recently Feldman has returned to his Turtles roots by providing the voice of Slash in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle TV series.
Jerry O’Connell – Vern Tessio
Believe it or not Jerry O’Connell’s first film role came playing Vern Tessio in Stand By Me. O’Connell followed this film up with roles in the TV shows Camp Wilder and My Secret Identity before featuring prominently in the long running show Sliders for four years. During those four years O’Connell also starred in Scream 2 as Sidney’s boyfriend Derek, as well as alongside Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire. After Sliders came to a close O’Connell landed the role of Detective Woody Hoyt across six seasons of Crossing Jordan, as well as in the show Las Vegas playing the same character. However it was during this time on the show where the first of a recurring theme in his career would start. In 2005 O’Connell voiced Captain Marvel in an episode of the TV show Justice League. Since then he has voiced other comic book characters such as Nightwing, Shazam, and most recently the son of Krypton himself Superman. Most recently Jerry O’Connell has done a lot of TV work including appearances in Scream Queens, Billions, Mistresses, and even Drunk History portraying Thomas Jefferson.
Wil Wheaton – Gordie Lachance
After playing the lead of meek Gordie Lachance in Stand by Me Wil Wheaton has become an acting staple of TV and voice work in cartoons and games. He would follow his role as Gordie with a four season stint as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and even revived the character in the film Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. Despite his film career never taking off, Wheaton has enjoyed successful recurring stints on Ben 10: Alien Force and A Town Called Eureka, before finding more success in playing himself, and oftentimes arch nemesis of Sheldon Cooper in the long running show The Big Bang Theory. Sorry we failed to mention he also blogs, writes comics, prolifically voice acts, performed sketch comedy, and created audiobooks of his work memoirs.
Kiefer Sutherland – Ace Merrill
After playing the dastardly Ace, who came very close to disfiguring our young heroes at the climax of the film, Kiefer went on to forge one of the more successful careers. He starred in numerous popular films such as Young Guns, Flatliners and The Lost Boys, also let us not forget his work in the realm of TV where he most famously played Jack Bauer across 9 seasons, and a TV movie of 24. Currently Sutherland can be seen in the show Designated Survivor, currently available on Netflix, as well as in the western Forsaken alongside his father Donald Sutherland. Also on the horizon, a sequel to Flatliners is due out in 2017 and according to IMDB, Kiefer is set to make an appearance 17 years after the original came out in 1990.
Casey Siemaszko – Billy Tessio
In the film Casey played Billy Tessio, the older brother of Vern. Thanks to Billy, Vern overheard him talking about the missing boy and led them on the adventure that ensued in the film. Prior to the film Casey actually played the character of 3-D in Back to the Future, also resuming the role in the sequel…you know that one from Biff’s gang who goes around wearing 3-D glasses…Anyway since then Casey has starred in Of Mice and Men, and Young Guns as Charles ‘Charley’ Bowdre alongside his Stand by Me colleague Kiefer Sutherland. His most prominent stints since then have been in NYPD Blue as Capt. Pat Fraker, and as Detective Dan Williams in the show Damages from 2007-2012 starring in 13 and 11 episodes respectively. Most recently his appearances have been few and far between, but he can be spotted in an episode of the current show Billions.
Bradley Gregg – Eyeball Chambers
Stand by Me was Bradley Gregg’s big break, playing the older brother of River Phoenix’s character in the film. All the older kids are pretty much dicks, and though Ace is the one with the most intent on beating people up, Eyeball could only muster so much as a “Ace, come on man” as the leader walks towards his younger brother Chris with a switchblade. Since Stand by Me Bradley dossed around the film/TV circuit playing bit roles in films such as The Fisher King, Class of 1999, and Lonesome Dove. However his next most recognisable role was in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors playing Philip, the sleepwalking kid who is brutally manipulated by Freddy in his dreams as a marionette with his veins acting as string before being walked off the top of a building. Since then Gregg didn’t appear in anything from 2002 till 2012 where he featured in a few shorts before jumping back on the wagon in low key fare such as Boonville Redemption, and an upcoming feature called Welcome to Apapulco.
John Cusack – Denny Lachance
John Cusack featured only fleetingly in Stand by Me as the older brother of Wil Wheaton’s character Gordie in flashbacks and stories told by Gordie. After some supporting roles like this in other films such as Sixteen Candles he made an impression with his boombox in the film Say Anything…, and then going on to leading films such as 2012, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Raven amongst others. Most recently you can see Cusack in another Stephen King adaptation Cell, as well as in Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq.
That is it for the first episode Where Are They Now, see you next time.