Hollywood is filled with stories of child stars who burned too quickly and too brightly, leading to a messed up life as an adult. One former child star who has been able to keep his life stable and enjoy a successful career as an adult is Stand By Me star Wil Wheaton. But as the actor revealed to Metro UK, his childhood experiences definitely had a negative effect on his life, even going so far as to describe the process of acting as “triggering” and “traumatic”.
“I’m not especially interested in being an on-camera actor, that was never my choice. When I was a kid my parents forced me to become an actor, it was never something I wanted to do. Throughout my entire childhood I begged my mother to stop forcing me to go on auditions, to just let me be a kid and she never heard me. It was really important to her that I become famous so she could be the famous actor’s momager and it sucked. That choice cost me my relationship with my parents and as a consequence of that, I don’t really enjoy on-camera acting. It’s a little triggering and a little traumatic.”
The success of Stand By Me launched Wil Wheaton along with the rest of the cast of the movie into the status of overnight stars. The young actor followed up that project with another one that appeared to be a slam dunk, at least on paper. Wheaton joined the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the role of Wesley Crusher, a precocious teen who frequently ends up saving the day through chance or pluck.
The character of Wesley is often described by Star Trek fans as a “Mary Sue” type who is constantly, and improbably, saving the day. Wheaton has had to endure a lot of mockery over the years in connection with his role as Wesley. In The Big Bang Theory, where the actor appeared as himself across many seasons, Wheaton himself took part in making fun of Wesley Crusher.
While his acting work has left the actor with feelings of bitterness, Wheaton has found a successful career resurgence as a host, podcaster, producer, and occasional actor. Thanks to his new life, Wheaton has made his peace with his past, and the ways in which his life experiences have informed the person he is today.
“If I had been supported by my parents instead of manipulated and controlled by them, I would be sharing [my dreams] with them right now and I’m not because they didn’t support my dreams on this at all… When people find out that my childhood was incredibly abusive and that none of this was my choice, sometimes I hear from people, “Oh, I feel so sad that I liked your work as a kid”. ‘I don’t want anyone to ever feel like that. The work is good, I’m good at it, I was a good child actor but I was abused and I was hurting a lot and that informed my character.”
This story originated at Metro.