When we filmed Stand By Me, none of us knew it was going to be the huge success that it became. None of us expected it to be part of that 50s revival that was so much fun in the mid-80s, and none of us knew that it would essentially launch all of our acting careers.
But I think that, if you asked any of us – actors or crew – who worked on the film, we'd all say that we knew we were working on something special, something that was definitely not going to suck, something that we could be proud of. The fact that audiences agreed with us was pretty awesome.
I don't know about the other guys, but I was totally unprepared for Stand By Me's success and the way it shoved a lot of us into the center of the spotlight. Maybe Corey knew what to expect, because he'd already been in a ton of popular movies (we all saw Goonies together while we were on location in Oregon) but I certainly didn't know what to do when I came home from a family vacation and saw several boxes on my porch, filled with fan mail.
You know, I haven't thought about this in two decades, but I just got this almost-photographic memory of sitting on my parents couch long after the rest of the family had gone to sleep, listening to Led Zeppelin IV on my dad's huge stereo (with the multi-band graphic equalizer component attached) on a very hot night in late August of 1986, trying to read and answer all of that fan mail by myself. I recall feeling embarrassed by it all, a little weirded out, but also a little excited. I remember thinking that maybe, in those boxes, was a letter from a girl who might want to go to the movies with me.
As I said, I was totally unprepared for the whole thing.
After about a year of being part of that whole Teen Beat crowd, I was totally over it, I thought it was stupid and fake, and really wanted to just get back to being an actor and having a normal life … but for the first few months, I will admit that it was pretty cool and a lot of fun to travel around the country for interviews on TV shows, like Good Morning America.
I forget what day this picture was taken, but it was 1986, right after Stand By Me had been released. There we are, sitting on chairs in the green room, waiting to go be interviewed by (I think) Ron Reagan, Jr. It was my first trip to New York, and I remember how excited I was to go to that huge, almost mythical city, see Times Square, ride the subway, visit the Statue of Liberty, and hang out with Jerry in his home town.
This photo captures our personalities perfectly: River and Corey are focused and serious (Corey is even wearing a tie and drinking coffee!) I am listening to the same person they are, but I'm not even trying to contain how excited I am to be going on a television show that I had been watching with my Aunt Val since I could remember, in front of the whole country, no less.
My favorite part of this picture, though, is Jerry. It's almost like he caught my mom or dad taking this picture of us, and decided to strike a pose, just to be silly. I just love that he isn't taking the thing too seriously, and that he's just having fun and enjoying the whole thing. As I got older and began to feel like the teen magazine publicity stuff was taking over my life, it stopped being fun, and it started to feel like a chore. I always envied that Jerry seemed to take it all in stride, keep it in perspective, and just have fun with it. I heard him on the Adam Carolla podcast about a week or so ago, and he hadn't changed a bit: still silly, still cracking me up, still keeping everything in perspective.
I've always said that Stand By Me was so successful because Rob cast four young actors who were so much like their characters, but I think it's spooky how the four of us ended up being so much like our characters: River died too young, Corey struggled like crazy to get his personal demons under control, Jerry found success and happiness, and I'm a writer.
…I have had a fucking weird life, man.