Jerry O'Connell Reacts to Wil Wheaton Claiming Childhood Abuse Inspired His 'Stand by Me' Performance

O’Connell said he has been friends with Wheaton since they starred together in the film 35 years ago.

Jerry O’Connell reacted to his “Stand By Me” co-star Wil Wheaton’s recent claim that his abusive childhood inspired his performance for the 1986 film.

While guest-hosting on Wednesday’s episode of “The Talk,” O’Connell said he has been friends with Wheaton ever since they worked together on the Rob Reiner-directed hit, but was unaware what his friend was going through at the time.

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“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,” he began. “I had no idea he was feeling this when we were doing this film and 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.”

He went on to suggest reaching out to someone when something appears “amiss” and asking if they need help.

“I have great memories from doing this film,” he continued. “I think parents can be a lot… not only in the acting world. I have kids who play sports and sometimes in the sport world parents can be demanding. And when people get older they deal with the ramification of that.”

“But I wish I was older back then so I could have said, ‘Hey Wil, hey man is anything [wrong]?’ But I do love Wil and he’s doing great.”

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Last week, Wheaton opened up about his performance as Gordie in “Stand By Me” during an interview for the 35th anniversary of the coming-of-age classic.

“Important context, I think, is that I didn’t want to be an actor when I was a kid. My parents forced me to do it,” he told Yahoo. “My mother made me do it. My mother coached me to go into her agency and tell the children’s agent, ‘I want to do what mommy does.'”

“And then through a combination of an incredible emotional abuse from my father and a lot of manipulation, using me, from my mother, like really put me in that place,” Wheaton continued. “Which, as it turns out, put me in the exact place to play Gordie. Because Gordie’s experience very much reflected my experience. We’re both invisible in our homes. We both have a brother who is the golden child. We’re both the scapegoat in the family.”

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Wheaton was 14 years old when he starred opposite O’Connell, River Phoenix and Corey Feldman. The film would go on to become a box office and critical hit, making the young cast household names. Looking back, Wheaton understands how his home life produced such a realistic performance.

“When I watch ‘Stand By Me’ now, I cannot ignore the unbelievable sadness in my eyes,” he explained. “And I cannot ignore the reality that it was that sadness, that isolation, that I think gave me what Gordie needed to come to life and I think Rob Reiner saw that.”

“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.”


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