Wil Wheaton recently reunited with his Stand By Me co-star Jerry O'Connell on The Talk and the latter apologized to Wheaton for not being there for him while he underwent abuse as a child.
O'Connell, who co-hosts The Talk, recalled how Wheaton opened up about surviving childhood trauma and abuse at the hands of his own parents during the time they filmed Stand By Me. He also said that he wished he was old enough to understand the situation and be there for his friend. The star said,
“I heard before you talk about some of the struggles you were going through during Stand by Me, and you know, while I was 11 at the time, that's an excuse; I do want to apologize for not being there more for you when you were younger.”
The Sliders star continued to apologize to his longtime friend and co-star and said,
“But I want to say, to the bigger picture, you never know what someone is going through when you're with them. I don't feel guilt, but I just want to say I'm sorry I wasn't there for you more.”
Wheaton responded to O'Connell saying he appreciates his concern. He also mentioned that the actor could not have identified his hidden struggles because he was just an 11-year-old. He said,
“I deeply appreciate that. You were 11. How could you have possibly known? Also, everyone in the audience who is a trauma survivor knows this: We're real, real, real good at covering up what we're going through.”
Wil Wheaton first opened up about surviving childhood abuse and trauma during the 35th anniversary of the classic coming-of-age film Stand By Me.
A look into Wil Wheaton’s childhood and early life
Wil Wheaton was born to medical specialist Richard William Wheaton and actress Debra Nordean on July 29, 1972 in Burbank, California. He reportedly grew up with his brother Jeremy and sister Amy.
The Ben 10 voice actor started acting when he was just seven-years-old. He gained popularity as a child artist after appearing in numerous commercials and bagged his first TV role in the 1981 TV film A Long Way Home.
Wil Wheaton went on to appear in films like The Secret of NIMH, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Hambone and Hillie, The Buddy System, and The Last Starfighter. Wheaton gained widespread international recognition at the age of 14 for playing the lead role of Gordie Lachance in Stand By Me.
Throughout the remainder of his career as a child actor, Wheaton played Wesley Crusher in the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also appeared in four additional episodes of the remaining three seasons.
In May 2021, Wil Wheaton appeared in an interview with Yahoo! Movies for the occasion of the 35th anniversary of Stand By Me. During the interview, the actor said he was forced to take up acting as a career while he was still young. He shared,
“I didn’t want to be an actor when I was a kid. My parents forced me to do it, 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.’”
He further added that he went through a “combination of an incredible emotional abuse” from his father and “a lot of manipulation” from his mother. Wil Wheaton also said his silent suffering helped him play the role of Gordie, who faced similar experiences in the film. He said,
“[It] put me in exactly the right 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.”
The 49-year-old also shared that he always notices the sadness in Gordie’s eyes as a reflection of his own feelings. He expressed,
“So when I watch ‘Stand by Me’ now, I cannot ignore the unbelievable sadness in my eyes. 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.”
Wheaton also said that he even wanted to be a writer like his character Gordie and only realized the wish in his 40s. He said,
“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.”
Over the years, Wil Wheaton went on to appear in numerous films and TV shows. However, he has always drifted away from his family and is currently estranged from his parents.
The actor also revealed that he continues to live with generalized anxiety disorders and chronic depression and supports mental health nonprofit organizations that aim towards raising awareness for such conditions.