Jerry O’Connell shares his takeaway from Stand by Me costar Wil Wheaton’s childhood abuse revelations
"I wish I was older back then," laments the actor.
Although the coming-of-age movie Stand By Me is considered a beloved film, it's not quite as well-regarded for cast member Wil Wheaton, who has spoken openly about the abuse he suffered —mostly in silence — from his parents during his childhood. When Wheaton's Stand By Me costar Jerry O'Connell joined The Talk recently as a guest host, he shared his support and sympathy for his longtime friend's pain.
"I love Wil. He's a great friend of mine," O'Connell said, adding that he's been friends with Wheaton since the film debuted 35 years ago. "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 coworkers, 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 acknowledged that while he has "great memories from doing this film," he expressed regret for not doing anything to help his friend when he needed it because he wasn't aware of what Wheaton was going through. "I wish I was older back then so I could have said, 'Hey Wil, hey man is anything wrong?'"
Wheaton recently revealed that his painful childhood provided a foundation for him to play the sensitive and troubled Gordie LaChance. "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 told Yahoo Entertainment in an interview.