Bad Coaching Almost Cost Wil Wheaton The Lead Role In This Classic ’80s Movie – SlashFilm


Many, many young hopefuls auditioned for the four central roles in “Stand By Me,” and Wheaton had to return multiple times for callbacks and tests. It wasn’t just a matter of finding who was right for each role, but also if they got along together. “It felt like the audition process went on forever,” Wheaton said. “They settled on a dozen potential actors and were mixing and matching us together.” Wheaton, Phoenix, Feldman, and O’Connell were all perfect together, so the gentle alchemy of the film’s casting agents was successful. 

But Wheaton recalled the story of the lemons during this extended casting process and decided to assert himself by refusing to film crying scenes. He hadn’t considered that many actors can make themselves cry naturally and that he might be called upon to do that very thing. Wheaton likely thought he was standing up for himself, not realizing that crying and emotional moments were what “Stand By Me” was all about. Wheaton recalled:

“A couple years before that, I had been taken to an actor coach, and I remember asking what you do if you can’t cry in a movie, and he said, ‘they’ll just put lemon juice in your eyes or onions.’ It was a terrible answer. It really freaked me out. I remember saying in one of the callbacks, ‘I’m not comfortable crying in movies.’ And then I walked out of the room and one of the writers, Ray Gideon said, ‘you’ve got to go tell the director you’re joking, because that’s an important part of the character.’ I almost lost the role all because of that terrible acting coach.” 

Wheaton doesn’t call out the coach by name, but yes, it was bad advice. 

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