Photo: Getty Images
Corey Feldman turns forty-seven in July. Since 1981 (the year E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial went into production without Corey, despite being cast by Steven Spielberg in what would have been Feldman’s big screen debut–but more on that later) he has been a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood. First as one of the world’s highest paid teen actors, then as a reality show caricature, and now as a vocal opponent of the industry’s rich, powerful, and seemingly lawless.
I had the chance to speak to Feldman two weeks after he alleged that, while stopped at a red light, he was attacked by members of what he calls a “Wolfpack.” This group, Feldman believes, has been consistently harassed him on various social media platforms for quite some time.
We talked for nearly an hour about everything from his career as a child actor to what his plans are for exposing the monsters in Hollywood, some of whom he has stated abused him as a child, and many other children through the years. The same men who have tried to make Feldman seem like some sort of crazy person or drug abusing fiend.
On March 28th, Feldman took to social media to claim he had been stabbed by a mysterious assailant the night before. When we finally had the chance to connect a little over a week later, the first thing I asked him was what was currently going through his mind.
“There are long term concerns that I am worried about,” he tells me. I didn’t understand what he meant. I had read the articles and after hearing him speak of being stabbed with a syringe, I asked him if he was afraid that perhaps the person that did it had injected him with a disease.
“It is more about long term poisoning,” he says, which I didn’t expect. “There are a couple of things that have been used in the past on whistle-blowers or spies and they use a slow working and untraceable poison. I think that we are coming to the point where we are at the dawn of a new day. And that there will be a crack in the window and the threshold is going to give. First of all, if it’s because you want to award it to the #METOO movement, the bottom line is darkness can only contain itself for so long. Light is always more powerful than darkness. All it takes is one small candle to light up a whole room filled with darkness. As long as there are a few people left trying to spread the word and keep people paying attention and tuned into the reality of things then it is going to spread and they are going to become awakened.
“Right now there has been a lot of success at keeping me silenced, because they have generated so much publicity in trying to badmouth me and get people willing to create stories about me or make up lies about me or whatever, which we expected and knew would happen. But it’s really whose bark barks loudest. And in the end we have got a plan in place that we all feel confident that the truth will be fully exposed and it will be exposed soon. So we all have to pray for my safety until then. We have video testimony, we have it all.”
Feldman does not at all seem intimidated by anyone, even after allegedly being injected with a syringe that could contain a poison or disease. The five foot, five inch actor does not seem to be the least bit intimidated despite his belief that he is in the crosshairs of powerful and potentially dangerous people.
And yet, despite a rough childhood and an embattled adulthood, Feldman–who starred in some of the most iconic films of the 1980s like The Goonies, Stand By Me and The Lost Boys–still holds onto good memories.
If you thought Gremlins and The Goonies were Feldman’s first movies, you would only be partly right. At the age of ten, after having appeared in television commercials for seven years, Feldman auditioned for the role of Elliot’s best friend in E.T. Steven Spielberg even selected him specifically for the role.
“When I went in and read for E.T. Steven and I hit it off famously and became friendly. But then the film went under a complete rewrite, and after that the character he signed me for was cut out, and the script changed. But we already had a contract. We had a deal in place. And he felt pretty awful about it so he basically apologized and said if there is any way to make it up to you I will. I would love to still work with you and I will put you in whatever my next film is. And that ended up being Gremlins.”
Feldman’s role in Gremlins was minuscule, compared to what his role would be in The Goonies, but it was enough to prove to Spielberg that Feldman had what it took to hold his own.
“I attribute [my continued presence in movies for over 35 years] to being a glutton for punishment. At the end of the day there are lifers and non lifers. Being in this industry was not a choice for me. It was something that was decided for me [by my mother], and I didn’t have much say in that matter, because three-year-olds don’t generally make those kinds of decisions.”
What was it that actually convinced him that a life in movies was his calling once he was old enough to make his own decisions?
“For me, I got to the point I realized I would either have to have cosmetic surgery to change my face or I am going to own the fact that this is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. And if I own that fact then I better take it very seriously and be the best I can be because I know how stiff the competition is. And I know how hard people will try to edge me out. And if I am going to it, I better do it for the right reasons.”
For a number of years, in his mid-to-late teens, Feldman was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Something that he says River Phoenix introduced him to on the set of Stand By Me in 1986, when he was just 14 years old.
“It was just about when I was 19 or 20, I had just gotten out of rehab and was sober. And I looked in the mirror one day and became OK with myself. I said to myself, ‘If all of this was all gone tomorrow and I took off and went to live on an island and got a job working at a fruit stand and just try to grow a beard and pretend I am not me, would I be happy, as just Corey?’ That was really the decision I had to come to. Is this a path that I want to pursue? I am no longer here as a slave. And then it was like OK I am making the decision that I do love the craft, I do love the art. There are so many people that I consider family.”
Even though Feldman made the decision to stick with show business, TV and movies, it was not all diamonds and pearls.
“When I made that decision to keep moving forward, there were a lot of people that tried to discard me and give me a lot of money to do very embarrassing things or discredit myself. So it was immediately around that time I was barraged with all of these offers to play myself or do reality shows. They were discouraging to my career. But I fell for it for a short time because the money is there. It is better than starving. After doing three or four of those I thought to myself, nothing in the world is worth it. Because that is not a career.
“When I was 28 or so I got to the point where I said enough is enough. I am not going to be in a movie just because it is a movie. Rather, I am going to dedicate my life as an actor to the passion of acting and having that career as an actor. And what that means is only accepting roles that are challenging to me and will be some kind of stretch and push me to do something that I had never dreamed of doing before with my skill.”
While Feldman hasn’t appeared in anything that has eclipsed the box office successes of his 1980s movies, he has continued to work tirelessly, refusing to be silenced. His latest film Corbin Nash–in which he plays a cross-dressing vampire–opens this Friday.
“For almost the past twenty years I have played really different characters. Even if it was in a ridiculous movie like Puppet Master [vs Demonic Toys], I was diverted from ‘Corey Feldman,’ and that was the key. Every time I went on screen I wanted to create a character that was meaningful and that no one would expect. And I think I have continued that very successfully for the past twenty years.”
One of the most interesting anecdotes that Feldman reveals to me is that he was responsible for one of the most memorable lines in the movie Stand By Me.
“I have been adding my own dialogue to movies since Stand By Me. That was the first time I wrote a line for a movie for a character that I played. Rob Reiner (the director of the film) asked me what I could say that would show how pissed off I was and that the whole world was against me. I said, how about ‘I am going to rip your head off and shit down your neck?’ That was one of mine. Rob was like ‘OK, let’s try that.’ And that’s how that happened.”
I then ask him what his favorite memory from the movie The Goonies was, since it was his first blockbuster film in which he was one of the leads.
“I don’t know if there is one specific memory other than meeting Michael Jackson, which was the icing on the cake for anybody,” he says, recalling how Goonies director Richard Donner brought the King of Pop to the set in 1984. “Because at that point all I wanted to do was meet him. He was my idol. It was very important to me. It was an alternate reality. But that wasn’t really about being in the movie. It could have happened anywhere and it would have been just as magical. But that brings the whole thing to a nice place in my heart.”
“There was also a great camaraderie that was formed between those seven kids and between the adults in The Goonies,” he adds. “The fact that Richard Donner is still somebody that I still have so much respect for and that is such an important part of my life still today, and that Sean Astin and I are still friends and we still talk and are there for each other on a human level on an ongoing basis means a lot to me.”
I ask Feldman one last question. What advice he has for parents who want their kids to become actors.
“I am one of the few that are lucky, if you call me lucky. But I was able to stick around and keep going with my career, at least. But you have to look at all of the kids that didn’t, all the kids that fell by the wayside, that you wouldn’t even know who they were if you saw them walking down the street today. And you might have seen them every day on TV when they were children. Think about what that does to their egos. Think about what that does to the confidence level of that human being. It’s not easy. The point is, why put a person through a lifetime of emotional duress when it is not even their choice?”
Corey believes that his book, Coreyography, is a blueprint for anyone who may want to put their child in the entertainment industry. The book, published in 2013, has over 700 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of 4.5 stars.
If Feldman, the #METOO movement, and anyone in between has their way, it is up to and time for Hollywood to learn from its mistakes of the past and to pave a way for a brighter future, especially for children, who are such a large part of the movie and TV industry.
“Any child who is working in Hollywood because their parents are forcing them to are slaves,” says Feldman. “It’s human trafficking at the end of the day, if kids don’t have their own ability to make their own decisions.”
Corey Feldman’s newest film, Corbin Nash, opens this Friday, April 20th.