I was twelve going on thirteen when I made the movie that changed my life

Twenty-five years ago today, on my future wife's 17th birthday, a movie I did called Stand By Me was released. I didn't know it at the time, but it would define my childhood and change my life.

Here are a few things I wanted to share, to mark the occasion.

I talked to NPR last week about Stand By Me. They ran it on Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered. The interview, and the story they wrote to go with it, is online at NPR.

The quintessential coming-of-age film Stand by Me celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The movie tells the story of four 12-year-old boys in a small town in Oregon and the Labor Day weekend that changed their lives forever.

The film was a hit almost immediately after it was released in the summer of 1986 and has gone on to become a beloved classic. Writer and actor Wil Wheaton, who played Gordie Lachance, Stand by Me's star, tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host David Greene that he credits the cast and director Rob Reiner for the film's success.

Here is a picture of the four of us waiting to go on Good Morning America to promote the movie in 1986.

Waiting to promote Stand By Me on Good Morning America in 1986

Here's a blog post I wrote in 2009 about it.

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'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.

Finally, in March of this year, I got together with the surviving cast members, Rob Reiner, and Richard Dreyfuss to talk about the movie, as well as the special 25th anniversary edition Blu Ray disc that's been released. I imagine that a non-zero number of first time readers are coming here from NPR or Google, so I'm going to reprint the story I wrote about that day in its entirety for you, because it's special to me.

I stood in the lobby of the Falcon Theater in Toluca Lake, and looked at Twitter while I waited for the rest of the guys to arrive. The walls were covered with posters from productions like CHiPs: The Musical and It's A Stevie Wonderful Life. Being in a theater during the day, when it's just a building with a stage, instead of the performance space it becomes when an audience fills the seats makes me feel like I'm getting to see The Haunted Mansion with all the lights on, like I'm in a secret place that few people get to see, and I felt an almost imperceptible longing to perform in a play tug gently but insistently at that thing in my being that makes me an actor.

Someone came over and started talking to me. I made polite conversation, but I don't remember what or who we talked about. This was an emotional day for me (though I didn’t know precisely how emotional it would be until later), and while I didn’t want to be rude, I wasn’t in a particularly chatty mood. It was the first time Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell and I would be in the same place since 1986 or 1987. We were technically there to give some interviews to promote Stand By Me’s blu-ray release, but  — for me at least — it was much more than that. It was a reunion.

We made Stand By Me twenty-five years ago. To commemorate the anniversary, a special blu-ray disc has been produced. Among the obligatory special features is a feature-length commentary that Rob Reiner, Corey, and I did together while watching the movie a couple months ago. On that day, I was apprehensive: what would they think of me? Would our memories match up? Would the commentary be entertaining and informative? …who would be the first to talk about River, and how would we all react to it?

It turns out that I had nothing to worry about then. It was a joy to watch the movie with them, and I was especially happy to discover that, after a very troubled life, Corey seems to be doing really well. Rob made me feel like he was a proud father and we were his kids, and when we talked about River, it was … well, private. I’ll leave it at that.

So as I stood there in the lobby, waiting for a familiar face to come through the door, I was happy and looking forward to our reunion without nervousness or apprehension. This stood in marked contrast to all the times I reunited with my friends from TNG when I was younger (my problem, not theirs), and I was grateful for that.

A few minutes later, the door opened, and an incredibly tall, handsome, well-dressed man walked through it.

“Holy crap,” I thought, “Jerry grew up.”

It was such a stupid thought, but there it was. I see Jerry on television all the time, and I knew that he was tall and handsome and only two years younger than me, but I had that strange disconnect in my mind that can only come from not seeing someone for about twenty years and I simultaneously did and did not recognize him.

I was standing near some food on a table, and Jerry walked up to grab a sandwich. As he reached toward the table, we made eye contact.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi, I’m Jerry,” he said, with a friendly smile.

“I’m Wil,” I said, “We worked on this movie together twenty-five years ago.”

In a few seconds that seemed to go on for minutes, I saw him look at me in disbelief, surprise, recognition, and joy. He flashed a smile that lit up the room and wrapped me in a hug.

“Oh my God, dude,” he said, “I can’t believe it’s … wow! You’re — I — Jesus, look at you!”

I smiled back, and strangely noted that my son is taller than him. “Look at you!” I said.

We talked as much as we could, trying to compress two decades into ten minutes, before he had to go to the make-up chair. As he walked away, my brain tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You know, he’s married to Rebecca Romijn. When he’s talking about his wife, that’s who he means.” “I know, brain. I know,” I thought back, “don’t be weird. Be cool, man.” A moment later, Richard Dreyfuss walked into the lobby, followed fairly quickly by Rob and then Corey.

Before I had time to do more than Twitter about how surreal it felt to see them all, we were all gathered together and directed from the lobby into the theater for our first interview. On the way in, I said to Corey, “I feel like there are all these famous, successful people here … and me.”

He laughed and said, “I was thinking exactly the same thing!”

Before I could make a witty zinger, he clarified, “about myself, I mean. Famous people and me, not, like, famous people and you.”

I laughed. “I knew what you meant, man,” I said.

It was the kind of friendly, enjoyable, effortless conversation we couldn’t have when we were younger, and I was glad for it.

There were five chairs set up for us in a semi circle. Our names were on pieces of paper so we knew where to sit. I was between Rob and Corey, and Jerry and Richard sat to Corey’s left. When we all sat down, Rob looked down the row of seats and softly said to me, “it feels like there should be an empty seat here for River.”

People ask me about River all the time. He and I were close during filming, and for about a year or so after filming, but the sad truth is that he got sucked into a lifestyle that I just don’t have room in my life for, and we drifted apart. When he died, I was shocked and horrified, but I wasn’t completely surprised. I didn’t feel a real sense of loss at the time — the River I knew and loved had been gone for a long time at that point — but I felt sad for his family, and angry at the people around him who didn’t do more to help him help himself. Since he died, when I've talked about him, I've felt like I’m talking about the idea of him, instead of the person I knew, if that makes sense.

But when Rob said that to me, with such sadness in his eyes, it was like I’d been punched in the stomach by eighteen years of suppressed grief. I knew that if I tried to say anything, all I would do was cry, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to stop. I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and nodded. “Yeah,” I whispered.

Later that day, when I’d had time to think about it and was recounting the whole thing to my wife, Anne, I said, “I think that having all of us together — the surviving members of the cast — made me feel like he really wasn’t there for the first time since he died. I don’t mean to be callous or anything like that, but that’s what it took to make his death and his absence a real thing that I could feel, instead of an event that I wasn’t part of but am forced to talk about more often than I’d like.”

I spent much of the next few days remembering all the things we did together during production, thinking about how much I looked up to him and how much I loved his entire family. I don’t know what would have happened to us if he hadn’t overdosed, if he ever would have come back from the edge, or if we would even have had anything in common … but when he was fifteen and I was thirteen, he was my friend. That’s the person I knew, and that’s the person I miss.

We talked about River in the interview, of course, and I think Richard put it best when he said that there is this monster in Hollywood that everyone knows about. It lurks just out of view, and occasionally it reaches up and snatches someone … and it got River.

Richard also talked about why we are actors, and what it means to him to be creative. It was so poetic and inspiring, that almost imperceptible longing to perform in a play I felt in the lobby turned into an overwhelming compulsion. Distracted by the responsibilities of every day life, it’s easy for me to forget why I love and need to perform. It’s easy to forget how satisfying it is to create a character, to discover something magnificent in a script or a scene, and then bring those things to life with other actors in front of an audience.

The entire interview lasted for close to an hour, I guess, and will be edited down to something between three and six minutes. I hope that the producers will cut together something longer, or even run the entire thing online somewhere, because it was one of the rare conversations that I think a lot of people, especially artists, would enjoy listening to.

When all of our interviews were done, I asked Jerry if he’d like to get together when he was on hiatus to have a proper conversation and really catch up on stuff. He said he’d like that, so we traded e-mail addresses. I didn’t expect him to actually want to see me once the glow of seeing each other for the first time in two decades faded, but we’re actually planning it, which delights me. Rob hugged me and made me feel like he was proud of me, and Richard blew me away with the work he’s doing for The Dreyfuss Initiative. 

As I drove home from the theater I was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. It was wonderful to see those guys again, and especially to reconnect with Jerry, but it was also tremendously sad to truly feel River’s loss for the first time. That turbulent mix of joy and sorrow stayed with me for several days, which is why I haven’t been able to write about it for almost a week.

Most actors will go their entire careers without doing a movie like Stand By Me, or working with a director like Rob Reiner. I got to do both when I was 12. For a long, long time, I felt like I needed to top or equal that, and it wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I accepted that it’s unlikely to happen — movies like Stand By Me come along once in a generation. 

But getting to spend a few hours remembering the experience with Rob, Jerry, Corey and Richard, free of the burden to prove to them that I was worthy of Stand By Me’s legacy, was something I will cherish for years. I just wish that River was here to enjoy it with us.

Happy anniversary, Stand By Me. You're finally old enough to officially be the classic people have told me you are since the 80s. Thank you to Rob, Andy, Ray and Bruce, and everyone in the cast and crew that made it possible for me to be part of a movie that I can look back on, twenty-five years later, with overwhelming pride.

71 thoughts on “I was twelve going on thirteen when I made the movie that changed my life”

  1. Thank you Wil for being part of that movie.
    It was one of my favorite movies of all time. I was Gordie, well the female version. I was 13 when movie came out and going through a really difficult time in my life and I always related to him. The smart kid that everyone says should be doing better and loyal to the end.
    Thanks for bringing back the memories…I think I saw this movie like 20 times, no joke.
    I recently posted the link to a story on the 25th anniversary on my FB account and all my friends commented that whenever they saw the movie they thought of me. Says a lot.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. Reading this story again makes me think about River and others who had a lifestyle that, as you put it, you “don’t have room” in your life for. It is so sad, and yet I am so thankful that you didn’t have room for it, and that you have made so much beautiful work since then. I hope that someday, no one will find “room” in their lives for such self destruction, even though I know that’s probably impossible.

  3. Wil,
    I heard that NPR interview on the radio on my way to the airport to catch a plane, and the whole time I was thinking “I hope it takes long enough to get to the airport that I could hear the rest of this!” And indeed, a fortuitous traffic jam saved the day. Great interview, great stories here, and thanks for sharing all your writing with us, and thanks for sharing your feelings about this in a way that so many of us can relate to.

  4. For some reason, I’m really surprised that you and Jerry hadn’t run into each other yet. (Also, I’m delighted for him, and for all the Vernons in the world, that he grew up to be who he is.)

  5. I was 17 when I saw the movie, so I was on the cusp of senior year and then college. Not obvious to me at the time, the movie contributed to my expectations of my unsure future and presented a realistic and bittersweet foretelling of what would happen to me and my friends over the next few years. I still get chills at the last line of the movie. I remember sneaking Chick-fil-A into the theater and eating Sno-Caps through tears at the end. The downside now that I’m 42 and have seen it a gazillion times is that no one will watch it with me because I can quote entirely too much of the dialogue. It is a great movie … one of the few that you never forget. Thanks.

  6. Wil, thanks for sharing this. I was in my early 20’s when I first saw Stand By Me, and it instantly took me back to my own ‘awkward years’. . .complete with bittersweet memories. I was a Gordie when I was young. Since then, I have watched younger generations watch the movie and be moved by the writing, acting and directing. It has taken on a timeless quality, and can be truly called a classic. I look forward to adding the BR version to my collection. And the NPR interview was great. Cheers!

  7. Haven’t felt worthy?
    You have no idea what a huge part you took(fuck still take) in my life and others. I looked up to you my whole life. You were in two movies that made a huge impression on my childhood. Secret of Nymph (coveted that movie as a child, and take joy in showing it to newer generations), and Stand by Me. Movies like that make a lasting impression on a kid. AT least they did me.
    Let me tell you about TNG. I don’t know how to explain this without getting too personal. Some bad things happened when I was a child. My parents and I never spent much time together as a family but each week my mom would sit on the couch, my dad the recliner and I would lay on the floor with my pillow and we would watch TNG together as a family. Call it cliche or whatever but you have no idea how much that meant to me then, and now. TNG and Nightcourt (Brent shoutout) lol and in the Daytime reading rainbow. Ah coincidence.
    Today your still here with “Go out and create something”. I can tell you your not blowing smoke out your ass it really does make a difference.
    Your a great talented person and to whatever part of your brain ever told you anything bad about yourself I tell it to fuck off. Not worthy. Pft.
    Honestly, thank you Wil. I wish nothing but good to you and yours.

  8. It’s comforting to know that even you, having established yourself as a well-known and respected creative force in an infamously competitive business, experience the same insecurities before a reunion that the rest of us do.
    I am curious about the seemingly intentional lack of mention of Corey in the paragraph that begins, “When all of our interviews were done…” Considering you had been sitting next to him, I was left wondering if the interactions you had with him after the one in the lobby were less than satisfying for you.
    Thank you for sharing what are clearly deep and honest feelings with people you don’t even know. I’m not sure I will ever be that courageous, and I’m ever so much older than you are.

  9. It is comforting to know that even you, a well-established and respected creative force in an infamously competitive business, feel the same insecurities before a reunion that the rest of us do.
    I am curious about the seemingly intentional lack of mention of Corey in the paragraph that begins, “When all of our interviews were done…” Considering you had been sitting next to him, I was left wondering if the interactions you had with him after those in the lobby were less than satisfying to you.
    Thank you for sharing what are clearly deep and honest feelings with people you don’t know. I’m not sure I could be that courageous, and I am ever so much older than you are.

  10. Stand By Me was one of my favorite movies growing up. I think the first time I saw the movie was when I was ten, so that was about 1990, but my brother, sister, and both parents also liked the movie. It’s one of the only movies that my entire family used to agree on. I’m glad that you got the chance to re-connect with Rob, Corey, and Jerry. I always hear of Rob’s successes, the ups and downs of Corey’s life, and of the range of roles you and Jerry both do. I’m glad we got a little insight to the four of you meeting up again as a group.
    Someone already posted about being the female version of Gordie but I have to agree. Sometimes growing up I felt the same as Gordie did and I would sometimes write on my own and even tell stories with my friends. I suppose that helped me connect to the movie so much. That, and the wonderful actors in it.
    Thank you for sharing this and I hope you know that even though you’re out there creating and pretending to be a fictional person, it still does effect us. We appreciate it, and we appreciate you. Thank you so much.

  11. “I feel like there are all these famous, successful people here … and me.”
    Dude, you need to re-evaluate what you consider fame and success. You are a fantastic actor, writer, husband and a damn amazing father. That’s all the success that matters. As for fame, you’re famous for all the right reasons amoungst the right people.
    Stand By Me was a once in a generation thing, but I feel you have equalled (and bettered) it by growing up into a decent human being. You’re not just some guy who was in a great movie, you’re a role model. You touch hearts with every blog post. You give us geeks hope, and best of all, you show us how awfull some sweaters can be.
    You’re just a guy who’s not a dick, and that’s pretty damn special

  12. Happy Rebirthday.
    I know this has probably been said before by others, but reading your 2009 post again, it just hit me why they call the process of achieving fame “becoming a star.” Both involve the application of tremendous pressure until a transformation occurs at a basic level. Both result in the creation of something that didn’t exist before, unique and different from every other star. And in both cases, the bigger they are, the greater the internal pressure, the shorter the span, and the greater the chance the end of their existence as stars will take place in a sudden cataclysm.
    In your case, a small star, out of the main sequence, gradually accreted enough free-floating particles of geekium and nerdrogen to achieve critical mass and reignite. That’s my theory, anyway.

  13. Define successful.
    We’re not all going to enjoy any kind of celebrity, and not all celebrities are going to be “super-famous”. Some will…
    You’ve many times over described yourself as. “A person. A human being.” Who isn’t? I mean, in the end, upon death, we’re all going to shit and piss ourselves just like everyone else.
    “Back in the day” there was a time when I swooned over all of you guys. I particularly had a thing for River, reading his biography and learning as much as I could about his background, family life, etc. He always seemed very “real” and down to earth to me, for a teen celebrity. He was amazing. Someone I truly idolized as a person. A “human being”.
    As time went on, I got over the teen idol/celebrity phase, engrossing myself in my own life. I remember the day River died. I was half asleep and my alarm radio was going off. I was dreaming I heard that River passed away on the radio. I thought nothing of it… until my mother came to the bathroom door as I was getting ready to go out and said, “Did you hear that River Phoenix passed away?” I turned and just stared at her, my jaw dropping. “I thought that was just a dream!” It was SO surreal. Everything came rushing back to me. I was heartbroken, and even more heartbroken and disappointed when I found out how and why he died…the path he had taken was everything opposite of what I had admired about him. Like you, I was so sad for his family. I was sad because I felt very discouraged when it came to my own dream of making it on stage, either on Broadway or in film and TV. I Ended up not going that route, and instead ended up following some more destructive paths for awhile.
    It needs to be said, Wil, from a true “nobody”, that you are the ONE and only celebrity, thus far, that has managed to salvage any remaining hope I have for artists who all face that monster out there some day. I’ve even rekindled my love of writing and being onstage, as well as fostering my daughter’s dreams. I am still wary, cautious, doing as much research into the field as I can to protect her while supporting her.
    I don’t know how you or anyone else here would define a “true fan”. I haven’t been here all the time, frankly. I’ve kept tabs off and on. I don’t geek out extensively (though all my friends do). I’m not a gamer. I don’t collect comic books (though my first Graphic Novel just arrived in the mail today – Dan Fogler’s Moon Lake). I enjoy theatre, movies, TV, reading, writing, teaching, creativity, and above all, humor. I have a family that always comes before anything else and we LAUGH IT UP. I will likely never make it to any type of convention. However, I consider myself a “true fan” of yours because you you’ve stayed true to YOURSELF and you don’t hold back. I only watched TNG because you were on it, but I couldn’t give a shit about any of that now (no offense). YOU inspire me.
    THAT’S success, IMHO.
    Of all the posts you’ve written, this one hits me in the heartstrings the most. I almost cried.
    I hate you.

  14. Funny as I was reading this, soaking it all in..I realized that I haven’t watched Stand By Me since the 80s. I remember enjoying it and seeing it many times…and also having an intense fear of leeches whenever I went wading in steams. And this fear was one that lasted for many, many years, as memory serves (probably due to the fact that I actually found one in a stream not long after I saw the movie!). 😉

  15. wil,
    i just heard…eureka has been canceled
    i am bummed
    something is seriously wrong with amc and scifi
    they allow for the creation of quality programming…then cut off their noses to spite their faces
    btw…the scene when you are crying about your dad hating you….gets me every time

  16. A) Happy Birthday to Anne!
    B) It’s true that a movie like Stand By Me only comes along once a generation. Opportunity knocks, as they say. But that’s why you need to get excited and make things, because that way, you have a safety net to catch you afterwards.

  17. Though I’ve read these stories before, they still bring a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing them, Wil.
    No someday about it Gordie. You are a great writer.
    Can’t wait to hopefully meet you at Dragon*Con.
    Truly sorry about Eureka, too. *sadface* I really enjoy that show. Sigh…

  18. What an amazing tribute. Both to the movie & to River. I was just a tween when I became infatuated with the Stand By Me boys. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this movie than this post. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Stand By Me was a classic to me after my first viewing. It’s one of those movies that just settle into you and make you see the world in a subtly different way. I felt a sort of authenticity that doesn’t usually come with movies geared toward kids or youth or whatever.
    What a thing to be a part of. Fucking weird life indeed. Fucking crazy, wonderful, awesome, rad, weird life.

  20. Wil, just keep doing your thing, man. Consummate Vs, consummate!
    You ARE a writer, and though your tales maybe have not translated to über success thus far, just keep on telling them. This poast was marveloussss.
    I think a big part of being a meaningful artist/writer is to remove ego from the equation. Ego can be measured by what people think of you, but really comes down to how much you value what people think of you. I’m reminded of what Marcellus Wallace said about pride: “That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit.”
    Just do your thing, man. It’s good. Make a living and say what you want to say. If your pay is metered by profits gained through careful ass-kissing and service of expectations, then you’re making a Faustian bargain that is predominantly independent of artistry. I know you’re above that.
    I never met River, but saw him gig once with Aleka’s Attic as an undergrad in Tuscaloosa. There’s no point in measuring oneself against someone like that. He filled every room he was in, much more than could be understood absent his presence. Rare rare rare. And after spending years in grad school in Gainesville, his family was always in the periphery of my awareness, but it always came back to River. Too much so to be meaningful about anyone but him, except he was long gone.
    That said, and this may seem callous, but people like that are such outliers, such total charisma factories, that they don’t really count. They are not useful calibrators. The rest of us are better off ignoring them, even if we must talk about them to do so.

  21. I just watched Stand By Me for the first time today. I missed it, only being a year old when it came out. Man, you’re so right when you say movies like it only come along once a generation.
    And knowing you from your writing and knowing where everyone ends up, it makes it that much more bittersweet of an experience.

  22. You were right to reprint this. You are such an eloquent writer, but I don’t know how you could surpass the emotion that pervades this entire piece. When you said that you realized that Stand By Me is one of those movies that only comes along once in a generation that also applies to writing about your feelings that day. You could never recreate them without making them hallow. Thank you so much for sharing something so special to you. You moved me to tears.

  23. It was a great movie, one I’ve seen again and again. Happy Anniversary, Stand By Me!
    While I do consider you to be incredibly successful, I appreciate the fact that you’re not big-headed about it. Stay that way, Wil!

  24. Wow, yes. Be proud.
    I saw the movie for the third (?) fourth(?) time just a few weeks ago, one of the first Stephen King stories I ever read (1983) and easily the favouritest(est) movie from his work, way to go, Rob Reiner. Way to go, all of you.
    I watched it through the credits and had a “wait a minute!” moment realizing only then that Vern, the heavier kid, grew up to be Jerry O’Connell, experiencing maybe just a little of what you did when you met up with him for the interview.
    Happy anniversary.

  25. Great NPR interview, Wil. Your voice has become so familiar to me (Radio Burrito, etc) that it was more like listening to an old friend than to “an actor”. What you got 25 years ago has stayed with you. You and I have traveled similar journeys with our boys. What you are today with them grew out of the you of “Stand by Me.” Thanks for sharing the journey with us.

  26. Wil, I was wondering, if I wanted to buy the 25th anniversary edition of Stand by Me, is one way this is better than another to make sure that royalties go to the respective parties who created the movie? I don’t mind retailers taking a cut, but I would like to see that the creative people are rewarded for their work and are encouraged to do more. Thanks.

  27. I am stunned that its been 25 years! I do love that movie to this day and I do remember clearly when it first came out. 25 years? Wow.
    Very touching words, Wil! I think many of us who grew up with that movie, other Rob Reiner movies, other River Phoenix movies and all that stuff feel very sentimental now. Great times, never to be forgotten!

  28. This movie was a huge part of my childhood and I want to thank you profusely for the part that you played in making it such a wonderful film. I identified with the character of Gordie, and in my group of friends, that was my role. My best friend Brian was the Chris Chambers of our group (I hung out with all guys back then, and I still prefer hanging out with the guys). We had a Vern and Teddy, too, but many different guys took on their personas at different times and under different circumstances.
    Last night, after learning that yesterday was the 25th anniversary, I did what I have been dying to do since I first got the movie on DVD: I shared the film with my children. I was always concerned that some of the subject matter was too mature and I didn’t want the language to be repeated. However, this movie is too special and sacred to not share, and I thought the occasion the perfect one to do so.
    My children (who have long heard me talk about Wil Wheaton and who have been exposed to many of your other projects) thanked me when the movie was over. They loved the film, too, and I loved being able to watch it with them. My son is 12 (going on 13) and my daughter is a little over 10.
    Thank you for being a special part of my childhood (and adulthood!) that I can share with my kids.
    And happy birthday to Anne.

  29. Congratulations Wil! Your dad and I are so proud of you and all that you have accomplished. SBM changed many lives, ours included. I remember taking that picture in the green room of GMA. Interesting how it captures all of your essences perfectly. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
    Love, Mom (your mom, really)

  30. Wil,
    I vividly remember when this came out, following my high school graduation.
    I had been a Stephen King fan for many many years, and went to see the movie with much trepidation (not many flattering or even entertaining adaptations have been made of his books and stories). I was VERY pleasantly surprised by the movie and how it captured the essence of the narrative.
    I have always wondered how much, if at all, Stephen King was involved in the screenplay or production of the movie.
    Thanks again!

  31. Another iconic movie having an anniversary that proves I’m freakin’ old. GREAT movie and my kids have seen it many times now. Thanks for sharing your experiences with it.

  32. One thing I have always admired about Wil is that this movie (nor does any role or any specific show or movie) define who Wil is. You see many train wrecks on TMZ or ET or wherever who were akin to one-hit wonders in the music industry: they made one great movie in their life, and then milk it as that defined their life.
    Wil isn’t a one-hit wonder, and he hasn’t let any media pigeon-holing by the media define who he is a person or as a working artist. He’s not an actor, he’s not an author, he’s not a blogger(*), he’s not a voice-actor, he’s not a gamer, or a self-professed geek…he’s all of these and he continues to move forward. And of course, we now add budding home beer brewer.
    I’m not trying to make this an “I <3 Wil” post, I just really appreciate someone who is genuinely excited about their past, embraces it for what it is, and doesn’t let it define the future, but uses it as a tool to guide….and doesn’t use the media to exploit it. He’s just this guy, you know?
    Happy 25th, Wil….and to all of us who enjoyed “Stand By Me”
    *(Most important to me, he had the original Soapbox, it’s where I met my wife!)

  33. I’m actually one of the only people I know who hasn’t seen Stand by Me (being a child of the 80’s, how I missed this movie baffles me) but I’m a huge fan of your other work and I really really want to finally watch it, especially after reading this great article and listening to you talk about the film on Nerdist. Thank you for sharing these great memories with us, I’ll check that out that blu-ray! :)

  34. When Stand By Me was released, I must’ve been 14 or 15. It’s strange how I couldn’t remember specifics about it, but I remember my very strong feelings when watching it for the first time.
    Stand By Me is one of those films that I remember emotionally, not visually, if that makes any sense. I guess I was just the right age when watching it.
    I’m reluctant to go back and watch films again that made a deep impression on me as a kid/teenager. I fear the re-watching will taint those memories.
    What I distinctly remembered was that I was crying. I don’t remember in which scenes specifically, but I remember how I sat in the cinema and cried my eyes out . . . And the sheer terror of watching the boys run along that bridge. And my utter, utter disdain for Kiefer Sutherland’s Ace. In fact, this disdain was so strong, I’ve never been cured of it. To this very day I just don’t like Kiefer Sutherland. Sorry, Kiefer. I think this was cemented because the next film I saw with him was Lost Boys.
    I just finished watching it again. It totally hadn’t registered with me that John Cusack is also in this. And that it was based on a Stephen King story. Wow. Whodathunk. Well, everybody except me, obviously.
    And Ace really isn’t that bad. ;0) I’m glad that even 25 years on, it still holds up. It doesn’t seem dated. I guess one still has to be in the right frame of mind (meaning: be a kid or a teenager) for it to have an impact but I’m glad that in theory kids these days can still watch it and connect with the story and not think “This is soooo 80’s”.
    A true classic. Something everybody who was involved in the making should be immensely proud of.
    Thank you, Wil.

  35. I’m saying what so many have already said. Thank you. Your human-ness and humility are even more humbling given your success. I have been a quiet fan since we (because you are just a couple years older than me) were children. Like so many others, you, Wil, made those of us who were geeky, awkward and insecure feel just a bit more like we had a place in this world.
    Rediscovering you as we are now adults, parents, mortgage-payers, well, it’s been so amazing. You write about your kids with a passion and love that humbles me, and I often hear the slight echo of the words my gruff-exterior husband may not be able to find.
    Your quiet humility toward the fame that you have is truly lovely. I promise you, everyone you meet is forever changed whether it be because they shook hands with someone they’ve admired since they were kids, or whether it’s because they finally had a positive experience with someone who bears the burden of being “famous” with grace.
    Please never, ever think you’re not worthy. If YOU aren’t worthy, what about the rest of us, hmm? Thank you for this blog, and thank you for the gorgeous work you continue to do.

  36. Damn you for making me cry at work, Wil Wheaton, DAMN YOU!
    This movie has forever left a mark on my memories from that time in my life when the movie came out. I can’t think of a high school friend who wouldn’t say the same. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since we all sat around talking about the movie after seeing it for the first (and second and third) time.
    I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have caught the movie on cable, looked at each other and said “I can’t believe that’s the same Jerry.”

  37. Thank you for sharing your memories and that picture is priceless. Stand By Me has always been one of my absolute favourite movies and I’m looking forward to sharing the movie with my sons in the near future.

  38. I was 11 when it came out and it meant so much to me–an aspiring writer in a small town–and came to mean even more over the years. (One primary reason is that “The Body” was always my standby example of why Stephen King’s an amazing writer, and why snobs should give him a fair chance.)
    And I can’t hear anyone say the words “all the way home” before breaking into song. It’s like a sickness.

  39. 25 years? I can still remember the first time I saw that movie. I was 11 and overwhelmed by my schoolgirl crushes on all of the guys in the film. :) I watched the movie again recently to see if it still had the same impact on me. It did, but for different reasons. I am in my 30s now and I have two small boys. When I watched the movie as a young girl, it was for me alone. When I watched it again recently, it was like I was watching glimpses of my boy’s future. They are so innocent now. Soft and sweet and boyish. But there will come a summer, like a summer in that movie, when they move from boyhood to adolescence. When they really embark on those first steps in becoming men. I loved the movie before I even knew how powerful it could be. It has taken on a new meaning and I love it all the more.

  40. Thank you for sharing this Will. Stand by Me is a movie I’ll never forget.
    Since the first time that I watched it, it changed my life in so many ways, contributing so heavily in what I become as a person.
    First time I saw it, I was 7, in a TV program here in Brazil, called “sessão da tarde” (Afternoom session), and since then, it’s my favorite movie of all time.
    The most extraordinary is how I felt (and still feel it) so connected to your character, Gordie. I Really felt that there’s someone like me in the world, who prefers read/write stories rather than sports, and some other more conventional stuff, and that i wasn’t inferior because of this, like if i had a place in the world. It was the first time I ever didn’t felt alone.
    And I watched it again when I was 11, and felt some new emotions along with the old ones. At the time, I again felt like Gordie, but this time, we shared the nostalgic feeling of long lost friends, and that some jorneys may change you forever. The same is today, every time I watch it, I remember, for example, my best friend who, believe or not, I met when I was 12. We lived together some of the best times of my life. Now we followed separate ways, and he’s not the person I met anymore, but I will keep the good memories forever with me.
    Now I’m 19, in the College, and still love how much this movie means to me, how much it touch me on deep and meaning ways.
    It has a new meaning in each period of my life I watched it, and in my life as a whole.
    How much blessed I was in my childhood, without knowing it. The friends I had. The person I become. My dreams, and the truth of reality. That movie brings it all to me. Like “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.” and stuff.
    Oh snap! It even make me be a fan of Stephen King 😉
    Anyway, thank you again for sharing this, and for, even without you knowing it, being a part of what I am now.
    Sorry, if it all sounds odd and emotional, but I’m just being true to what I feel. ^^

  41. I listened to the NPR podcast while walking to work this morning and I just want to say a big F-you for making me cry when you were describing doing the commentary and going silent at the end when Chris faded out. Luckily it was dark and no one was around.
    Seriously, one of my all-time favourite movies (despite what my flickchart profile says). To me, the 80s were a 2nd? golden age of cinema. I struggle to think of any movies that have had the same kind of impact from the 90s and beyond.

  42. Last year I was in line at the checkout at a Target store. An older lady was in front of me (probably in her mid to late 70s) and she was holding a copy of Stand By Me and looking at the cover. After a couple of minutes, she put the dvd back on rack. At that point I had to ask her if she had ever seen the movie. She told me, ‘No. I was just thinking maybe I would get it’. I went onto tell her it was one of the best movies ever made—the storyline, the cast, the plot, the music—everything about it was just perfect. The lady picked the movie back up and purchased it. I’m sure she enjoyed every minute of it, just like I have over the years. It’s one of my favorite movies to watch, over & over. The part with the deer is probably my most favorite scene.
    River was a tremendous actor. I miss him and all of what he could have been…and should have been. That guy certainly deserved being dealt a better hand in life than what he got. He should still be here with us today. We all got robbed just as much as he did.

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