Wheaton claimed that he suffered a “combination of an incredible emotional abuse from my father, and a lot of manipulation, using me, from my mother” in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment last week.
O’Connell, 47, who was one of Wheaton’s co-stars in the coming-of-age film, expressed sympathy for Wheaton, whom he called a “great friend,” while appearing on Wednesday’s episode of “The Talk.”
“That film was 35 years ago. I had no idea he was feeling this when we were doing this film,” the actor said.
Now, all these years later, O’Connell says Wheaton’s revelation serves as a lesson that no one knows what another person is truly going through.
“I think what should be said is, you have no idea, not even co-workers, just people close to you, you have no idea what is going on with someone. So, if you sense anything is amiss, anything weird, it costs you nothing to go up to them and say, ‘Hey is everything OK? Is anything going on? Do you want someone to talk to?’” O’Connell told co-hosts Amanda Kloots, Sheryl Underwood, Elaine Welteroth and guest host Jaime Camil. “I just think even saying that I think reaches a hand out to someone.”
O’Connell and Wheaton starred in the classic alongside Corey Feldman and River Phoenix. He went on to compliment Wheaton’s career as of late, noting he is “doing great” and “does a lot for Paramount+ and ‘Star Trek.’”
In his interview last week, Wheaton said he has not kept in touch with Feldman. Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 at the age of 23.
“Stand By Me” was directed by Rob Reiner. When Wheaton spoke of the film’s success 35 years after its premiere, he admitted that each of the four leads were very much like their characters in real life, including him in his role as Gordie Lachance.
“One of the reasons I believe ‘Stand by Me’ is so enduring is that Rob cast four young boys who were our characters,” Wheaton told us. “Corey was such a pain in the ass and I said to Rob, ‘Why did you cast him?’ And Rob said, ‘There was no other actor who was as angry as Corey was. And Teddy is filled with anger and rage.’ And I went, ‘Oh my God, that totally makes sense.’ River is smarter than all of us and wiser beyond his years than any of us are. And that’s exactly who Chris is. And Jerry is unbelievably funny, and really easy to get along with, and is guileless. ‘Oh my God, that’s Vern.’
“I guess I want to be a writer so that makes me Gordie. I never realized until I was in my 40s that I was Gordie because I was Gordie,” he added.