It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 30 years since Stand By Me, considered one of the best movies of all-time, was released in theatres. Based on Stephen King’s 1982 novel The Body, the plot is built around four young boys who live in a small town in Oregon and are determined to find the body of a missing child during the summer of 1959.
The 1986 movie kept a balance between touching and sweet, but was also funny and had some dark humor behind it (remember, we are talking about something based on a Stephen King novel). The combination, as we know now, was a success.
Stand By Me featured a young cast that would soon become household names: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, and Kiefer Sutherland are just some of them. The movie, that became a perfect example of strong friendships, still influences many young filmmakers (and friends) up to today. The Netflix success Stranger Things is the most recent example.
In this article we will look at what happened to the young cast and also to the few grown ups that were in the movie. Some of them built outstanding careers and others had a less successful path. Curious? Put on the song “Stand By Me” and get ready to read on.
15. Wil Wheaton – Gordie Lachance
The movie is narrated by Gordie Lachance (played by Wil Wheaton), a writer who is recalling events from his childhood after reading about the death of a friend in a newspaper. As a child, Lachance was a boy who enjoyed telling stories and had recently lost his brother.
Lachance, like other child actors in the movie, started working in show business very early, when he was 8 years old. Between 1987 and 1990 he was part of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he played Wesley Crusher.
Today, the actor is a frequent presence on The Big Bang Theory, playing himself, and also in Eureka and Leverage. Wheaton also appears as himself on Bill Nye Saves The World and Whose Line Is It Anyway? He is a passionate promoter of the geek culture and was a blogging pioneer. Wheaton is also a co-creator of the YouTube board game show Table Top.
14. Corey Feldman – Teddy Duchamp
Teddy Duchamp (played by Corey Feldman) was a boy mentally and physically abused by his father. In one scene, the father holds his ear near a stove and almost burns it off. Rumors say that Feldman used his own troubled relationship with his parents as an inspiration for the movie.
American viewers were already used to seeing Feldman’s face on the screen. The child actor was in show business since he was 3 years old, when he was the star in a McDonald’s commercials. A few years later, he was part of huge successes like Gremlins and The Goonies and, of course, Stand By Me. As a teenager, he also filmed License to Drive and Little Dream.
However, his addiction to drugs slowed down his career. The actor is currently putting efforts on his musical career and his last appearance on TV was in September 2016 at Today Show, where he performed his new song “Take a Stand”.
13. River Phoenix – Chris Chambers
Chris Chambers (played by River Phoenix) grew up with alcoholic parents and is often judged by the small town he lives in because of it. Despite the prejudice he faces, Chambers seems to be a regular 12-year-old boy.
In the 80s, River Phoenix was hailed as the new James Dean. And he was living up to the expectations. In 1988, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Running on Empty. Phoenix also played the young version of Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In 1992, he could be seen playing a gay street hustler on My Own Private Idaho, together with Keanu Reeves.
Sadly, the talent was not the only thing he had in common with James Dean and both actors were fated to have a tragic death at a young age. In 1993, Phoenix died from a drug overdose in front of the West Hollywood club The Viper Room. He was only 23 years old.
12. Jerry O’Connell – Vern Tessio
Who doesn’t remember the chubby boy Vern Tessio? He is also the shortest of the group and attracts lots of bullies, but he often shoots back at them with a sharp sense of humor.
The character was played by Jerry O’Connell who left the chubby years behind and, in 2009, he was considered one of the sexiest men in the world. He also married the model and actress Rebecca Romijn in 2007. After Stand By Me, he struggled with movies like Calendar Girl and Blue River, but he made a significant comeback in 1996 in Jerry Maguire, where played the football star Frank Cushman. After that, O’Connell was part of other successful movies such as Scream 2, Mission to Mars, and Tomcats.
In 2016, he was back on TV, where he made an appearance on the now-cancelled show Scream Queens, and in 2018 he will be on the 10-episode TV series Carter, along with Sidney Poitier.
11. Kiefer Sutherland – Ace Merril
Ace Merril (played by Kiefer Sutherland) is approximately five years older than the other boys, and is the movie’s anti-hero, who is constantly bullying the four main characters. In one scene, he holds a cigar against one of the boys’ faces and in another moment he put a knife in someone’s neck.
Kiefer Sutherland was so good playing the bully that is was hard to believe it was the first time he was in a movie. It was obvious he would become successful and the Canadian actor played in more than 70 movies so far. In The Lost Boys, he played another bad boy (in fact he was a vampire) and we can see him in other successful movies like A Few Good Men and Three Musketeers. However, his most successful role was on TV, as the agent Jack Bauer on the series 24. Earlier this year he also released the video clip “I’ll Do Anything” and launched his career as a singer.
10. John Cusack – Denny LaChance
Denny LeChance was Gordie’s brother who passed away. In the movie, the family is still dealing with the football star’s passing. LaChance was played by John Cusack and although the character was very important in the plot, he hardly appears. Cusack has played bigger roles previously in movies like Better Off Dead and The Sure Thing.
The 51-year-old actor was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his performance in High Fidelity in 2000. Cusack also collected many successful roles during his praised career, including Being John Malkovich, 2012, Hot Tub Machine, and The Raven, to name a few. He also played Richard Nicholson in The Butler and his most recent movie was Arsenal, a sci-fi thriller, co-starring Christina Ricci.
The actor is also well-known for his political statements and earlier this year he made many tweets against Donald Trump.
9. Richard Dreyfuss – Grown Up Gordie LaChance
As we mentioned, Stand By Me starts with a grown up Gordie LaChance reading about the death of a friend in the newspaper. From that moment, Gordie, who is now a writer, starts to recall his childhood and his best friends at the time.
The role was played by the experienced actor Richard Dreyfuss, who already had a praised career: in 1978 he won the Best Actor Oscar for his work in The Goodbye Girl. He claimed in an interview that he keeps the prize in his fridge.
He was also part of other successful movies; Jaws, American Graffiti, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Down and Out in Beverly Hill are part of his acting portfolio. The now 69-year-old actor is still very active and releases at least one movie per year. He is currently filming The Book Club.
8. Casey Siemaszko – Billy Tessio
Billy Tessio is Vern’s brother and they are nothing alike. Different from his younger brother, Casey is among the bad boys’ group, who bullies and threatens the younger boys anytime they have a chance.
Casey Siemaszko played the gang member and was a very active actor in the 80s and early 90s, when he appeared in 17 movies. He was cast in movies like Back to the Future, Back to the Future 2, Young Guns and Of Mice and Men.
In fact, after the 90s, his career was more focused on television, where he often played smaller roles. He has appeared in The Facts of Life, St. Elsewhere, Oz, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, CSI: NY, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order, Elementary, Person of Interest, and The Blacklist.
7. Bradley Gregg – Eyeball Chambers
Eyeball Chamber is also part of the gang and is the right hand man of Ace Merril. He is also Chris’ brother. The role is played by Bradley Gregg, who made his debut in the movie Explorers, released a year before. However, Stand By Me was his first big role and opened many doors. In 1988, he starred in Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors and a few years later he was in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, where he worked together with River Phoenix, who played his brother in Stand By Me.
The promising career slowed down and he struggled getting relevant roles the coming years, but he kept working and is often cast for supporting roles in movies and TV shows. His last appearance was in 2016 in the movie Boonville Redemption, as Pastor Virgil Palmer.
6. Jason Oliver – Vince Desjardins
Vince Desjardins was another member of the gang and was a small part played by Jason Oliver. It was the first movie of the actor that later took other small roles during the 80s and 90s. Viewers can see him in I’ll Be Home For Christmas, Terrified, Uncaged , The Wizard, and Class of 1999, where he shared the screen again with his gang pal Bradley Gregg.
Although viewers don’t see much of him on the screen, he is still very active in show business, but behind the scenes. Since 2008, he has worked as an ADR mixer and recordist in movies. However, after a 15 year break from his acting career he made a humble appearance in The Wolves of Savin Hill, as Bruce. Perhaps the resemblance of the movie with the Stand By Me plot made him decide to come back; the story is about a group of childhood friends who are reunited after a murder.
5. Gary Riley – Charlie Rogan
Another member of the gang, Rogan was a smaller role played by the actor Gary Riley and every time he shows up on the screen, he and his friends are tormenting the four boys. Although Gary Riley doesn’t seem like a familiar face, he was in other movies like Summer School, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Judge Reinhold, and Airwolf. His last role was the movie Fear, together with Mark Wahlberg.
In 2013 he was part of a Summer School Q&A at New Beverly Cinema. The former actor is a frequent guest on Adventure Club Podcast. There’s not much more information about what Riley is doing at the moment and he claims that he lived off residual checks for almost twenty years after leaving Hollywood. Gary now lives in Los Angeles.
4. Frances Lee McCain – Mrs. LaChance
There was not much room for grown ups in Stand By Me, but Frances Lee McCain was one of them. She played Dorothy Lachance, the mother of Denny and Gordon LaChance. After Dennis passes away, she is so concentrated on her grieving and cherishing the memory of her dead son, that she ignores Gordon.
Frances Lee McCain never had many big roles, but she could be seen playing Kevin Bacon’s mother in Footloose, stabbing some creatures in her kitchen in Gremlins, in a scene in Back to the Future, and as a nurse in Patch Adams. The last time she was credited in a movie was in 2012, in Stitch in Time.
3. Marshall Bell – Mr. LaChance
Mr. LaChance was married to Dorothy LaChance and he was the father of Dennis and Gordon LaChance. Like his wife, he struggles a lot with the death of his older son and often rejects Gordie. In a heart-breaking scene, Mr. LaChance says that Gordie should have died and not Dennis.
Marshall Bell, who played the character, collected more than 45 roles in movies and television over the years. He acted in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, Twin, and Total Recall. His last role was the 2016 movie Rules Don’t Apply, where he played Colonel Maxwell.
The last public appearance of the now 74-year-old actor was in February, when he attended to the one-off premiere screening of The Shining. The event was to praise the career of the Italian costume designer Milena Canonero, with whom Bell has been married since 1980.
2. William Bronder – Milo Pressman
Milo Pressman was a small character in the movie played by the veteran William Bronder. As if the gang was not enough, the boys had to face the angry and grumpy junkyard owner, who claims that his ferocious dog is trained to attack specific body parts. However, the dog is a lovely golden retriever.
The small part was the most important work of William Bronder, who often played rough working-class man. He filmed seven films, eight TV movies, and 50 television episodes on TV series. He can be seen in movies like Best Seller, Cannery Row, and Yes, Giorgio! His last role was in Return to Me. On TV he played in episodes of MacGyver, CHiPs, and The Streets of San Francisco.
1. Bruce Kirby – Mr. Quidacioluo
Mr. Quidaciolou goes almost unnoticed in the movie. He is the store owner who says that Gordie looks like his brother. Played by Bruce Kirby, the actor was well known to the public. He played several roles during the 60s in TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie, The Nurses, and The Defenders.
Kirby built a consistent career over the decades and acted in huge success like M*A*S*H, In The Heat of The Night, The Sopranos, and Scrubs. Kirby also showed up many times in the long-running series Columbo, where he played different characters. He appeared as Sergeant Kramer in six episodes.
He hasn’t acted since the 2009 movie Bottom Feeders. There are no recent news or images of the now 89-year-old actor and we hope he is enjoying his retirement.
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