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See the Cast of ‘Stand by Me’ Then And Now

Stand By Me
Columbia Pictures

Based on a Stephen King novella, ‘Stand By Me’ follows four young friends as they search for a dead body in the summer of 1959. While the 1986 movie was sentimental and sweet, it was also funny and profane, and for that reason it was that rare R-rated hit that was also a success with kids who secretly watched it on HBO when there parents were out for the night. 

In addition to Rob Reiner’s strong work behind the camera, ‘Stand By Me’ featured a heavyweight cast of young actors. See what they are up to today below.

Wil Wheaton, Gordie Lachance

will wheaton
YouTube

Then: Plucky Wheaton played the main kid, Gordie Lachance, in ‘Stand by Me.’ The next year the 14-year-old — who had started his acting career at age 8 — began his long run as Wesley Crusher on ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’

Now: Wheaton, a blogging pioneer, is well-known on the Web these days as a vocal promoter of geek culture. But the 40-year-old does still act, turning up in recurring roles on ‘Eureka,’ ‘Leverage’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ where he plays himself.

River Phoenix, Chris Chambers

river phoenix
YouTube/Biography.com

Then: River Phoenix played Chris Chambers, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The previous year he had made his film debut alongside Ethan Hawke in ‘Explorers.’ ‘Stand By Me’ set Phoenix on a path toward stardom with included acclaimed roles in ‘Running On Empty,‘ ‘Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade’ and ‘My Own Private Idaho.’

Now: Phoenix died of a drug overdose at the age of 23 in 1993. He was in the midst of shooting the film ‘Dark Blood’ when he passed. After a long period of languishing in legal limbo, the film is expected to be released later this year.

Jerry O’Connell, Vern Tessio

jerry o'connell
YouTube/Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: In ‘Stand By Me,’ O’Connell was Vern Tessio, whose weight and timid nature made him a target for bullies. It was the first movie for the 11-year-old.

Now: A jovial fixture on the small and big screen, O’Connell was Detective Woody Hoyt for seven seasons on ‘Crossing Jordan.’ The 38-year-old, who is married to actress/model Rebecca Romijn, will star as Herman Munster in the upcoming ‘Munsters’ reboot ‘Mockingbird Lane.’

Corey Feldman, Teddy Duchamp

corey feldman
YouTube/Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: In ‘Stand By Me,’ Feldman played Teddy Duchamo, a character who has been mentally and physically scarred by his abusive dad. According to Wil Wheaton, Feldman channeled the “terrible” relationship he had with his own parents for the role. At 14, Feldman was already a veteran actor, with credits in films like ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Gremlins’ under his belt.

Now: With his many tabloid scandals and fizzled career, Feldman has long been a poster boy and cautionary tale for child actors who aren’t able to repeat that success as an adult. (But at least he’s doing better than his good friend and former reality show partner Corey Haim, who met a tragic end.) Next up for Feldman is the movie ‘The Zombie King,’ in which he co-stars with fellow former-child star-turned-troublemaker Edward Furlong.

John Cusack, Denny Lachance

john cusack
YouTube/Vittorio Zunino Celotto, Getty Images

Then: In ‘Stand By Me,’ Cusack played Gordie’s football-star older brother Denny, whose death left a huge hole in the Lachance family. Before shooting ‘Stand By Me,’ Cusack had played much bigger roles in ‘Better off Dead’ and ‘The Sure Thing.’ In 1989, Cusack starred as Lloyd Dobler in ‘Say Anything,’ a boomb0x-toting character he is still associated with today.

Now: The 46-year-old has been a consistent film presence since ‘Stand By Me.’ Among his most recent efforts are ‘The Paper Boy’, ‘The Raven’ and ‘Hot Tub Time Machine,’ and he will play Richard Nixon next year in ‘The Butler.’

Kiefer Sutherland, Ace Merrill

kiefer sutherland
YouTube/Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Then: Hotheaded Sutherland was bully and gang leader Ace Merrill in ‘Stand By Me.’ The next year he played another evil character — vampire Michael in ‘The Lost Boys.’ Roles in films like ‘Young Guns,’ ‘Flatliners’ and ‘A Few Good Men’ followed for the son of Donald Sutherland.

Now: Thanks to ’24,’ Sutherland was able to reinvent himself as a TV good guy after suffering a bit of a movie lull. The 46-year-old’s latest TV series, Touch,’ returns for a second season in October. He has also seen his fair share of DUIs, and spent 18 days in jail while on break from shooting ’24.’

Casey Siemaszko, Billy Tessio

casey siemaszko
YouTube

Then: Siemaszko was Billy Tessio, older brother to Vern and the brightest of Ace’s dimwitted lackeys. The year before he was 3-D in ‘Back To The Future,’ a role he reprised in ‘Back to The Future 2.’

Now: The 51-year-old was an absolute TV machine in 2012, making guest appearances on ‘Damages,’ ‘Blue Bloods,’ ‘NYC 22,’ ‘White Collar,’ ‘Louie’ and ‘Elementary.’ His last movie role was in 2009’s ‘Public Enemies.’

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