Wil Wheaton discusses childhood fame, feeling suicidal as a teen: 'I am a survivor'

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Wil Wheaton is opening up about the inner turmoil he suffered as a child actor.

During an interview with Access Hollywood published Tuesday, the 49-year-old actor said he never wanted to work in show business, recalling childhood memories of voicing this disapproval. Wheaton has previously said his parents forced him into an acting career.

During an interview with Access Hollywood published May 24, 2022, actor Wil Wheaton opened up about the inner turmoil he suffered as a child actor, revealing he felt suicidal as a teenager.
During an interview with Access Hollywood published May 24, 2022, actor Wil Wheaton opened up about the inner turmoil he suffered as a child actor, revealing he felt suicidal as a teenager.

"I have these very clear memories of saying over and over, 'I don't want to do this. I just want to be a kid. Let me be a kid,' " Wheaton said.

But Wheaton said he learned that if he wanted to gain the "attention and approval from my parents," he had to fall in line with the career path his parents chose for him.

"'Maybe if I do what mom wants, for some reason, dad will love me,' " said Wheaton of his reasoning at the time, but added that this approach didn’t yield that result. "There was a time in my life where he made a choice that I wasn't his son — I was Debbie's 'thing.' "

Reflecting on the darkness of his past, Wheaton said the mental distress he experienced in his youth caused him to feel suicidal.

"The only reason I didn't kill myself as a teenager is that I didn't know how. That's how much pain I was in,” Wheaton said. “I thought maybe it would get my dad's attention, and maybe it would make an impression on my mom and she would have to see me and not her 'thing.' "

He continued: "I'm so grateful that, for whatever reason, I didn't make un-revokable choices when I was younger. I'm just really grateful for all of it. I am a survivor."

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Wheaton broke out with his role in the 1986 Rob Reiner drama “Stand by Me,” co-starring River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell. He also appeared in the sci-fi adventure series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the 1991 action thriller “Toy Soldiers.”

In “Stand by Me,” Wheaton said there was a heartbreaking parallel between his character Gordie Lachance and his own life at the time. “The fundamental motivating force in Gordie Lachance’s life is his line, ‘My dad hates me. I’m no good,’ ” he said. “That was how I felt, and I didn’t know it.”

Having battled his demons – including overcoming an addiction to alcohol – Wheaton said he refuses to keep the truth of his experience hidden.

"I was silenced for my entire life, and I'm not going to be silenced anymore," Wheaton said.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.

Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wil Wheaton says he's 'grateful' he didn't commit suicide as a teen

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