The film starred Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell, a group of friends who search the Oregon countryside for the body of a dead child.
We may not all be able to live off cherry-flavored Pez or agree that Goofy is a dog (He is, Vern. He is.), but one thing’s for sure — it’s hard not to feel a twinge of nostalgia for Stand by Me as the cast celebrates its 30th anniversary today.
The beloved coming-of-age tale revolves around a writer (Richard Dreyfuss) recalling a childhood journey taken in rural Oregon in 1959, when he and three other 12-year-old friends went searching for the body of a missing boy around their age who was hit and killed by a train near their homes, an adventure that eventually defines their lives.
Released on Aug. 22, 1986, the now-classic film made household names out of kid actors River Phoenix (Chris Chambers), Corey Feldman (Teddy Duchamp), Jerry O’Connell (Vern Tessio), and Wil Wheaton (Gordie Lachance). The movie was an adaptation of Stephen King’s novella, “The Body,” and directed by Rob Reiner.
ET interviewed the young cast just days after Stand by Me’s release in 1986, and Phoenix — later known for standout performances in indie fare before hetragically died of a drug overdose at age 23 — waxed poetic on the film’s more philosophical scenes. When asked if kids really talk that way, Phoenix, 16 at the time, responded, “Well, I know I do, even when I was 12. It’s real insight on how kids really think and what goes through their minds, and it depends on how they were raised and how much they know, but I thought it was pretty realistic.”
Phoenix also noted that his character, Chris, was more spiritually in line with his father than himself. “In a way, I am kind of like a peacemaker. I don’t know much of me is in the character, but I know my dad is in the character a lot,” he explained. “My dad had the similar lifestyle that Chris had. My dad grew up in a small town and he was like the bad kid, juvenile hall. He went through all that kind of stuff and has told me about all of it, so in a way, I feel really close to Chris.”
As for his co-stars, Feldman mused that he wasn’t all that similar to his onscreen counterpart, telling ET, “Not a lot, because I’m not crazy. I mean, I’m crazy sometimes — not crazy like Teddy.”
If you saw Feldman in The Goonies but you somehow never managed to see Stand by Me, please go ahead and do so now, then yell at your parents for not showing this to you sooner.