It’s been 35 years since Stand by Me hit theaters, and the iconic coming-of-age drama is as powerful now as it was then. Stars Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman are celebrating the milestone anniversary by looking back at the lasting impact of the hit film.
“It’s like a badge of honor having been a part of Stand by Me,” O’Connell recently shared with ET’s Matt Cohen. “Because it’s not just a good movie. It’s not like people just come up to me and go, ‘Hey, man, that movie was great!’ … They usually stop me [and] they pull me aside and say, ‘Stand by Me meant so much to not only me, but to my dad, to my kids.'”
“It’s just one of those [things], it spans generations,” he added.
“It’s always an honor to have people remember your work at all, you know what I mean?” Feldman chimed in. “There’s so much out there, there’s so much great art, there’s so many great films, and I just feel honored and privileged to be part of any film that people actually cherish, that people still hold in a high regard.”
For Feldman, it’s the genuine characters and realness of the film’s emotions that have created such a lasting impression on so many.
“There’s still that honesty about it that makes you connect to these characters, that makes you connect to that friendship, and that purpose, that meaning,” Feldman added. “I think that’s what it’s about. It’s about taking people back to that place of innocence and coming of age and knowing that everything is brand new and you’re discovering it with your friends, and you don’t know the difference between what’s right and wrong and what’s good and bad, but you’re going with what your heart tells you.”
The film, adapted from Stephen King’s 1982 novella, The Body, follows four friends — played by O’Connell, Feldman, Wil Wheaton and River Phoenix — who go looking for the rumored location of the dead body of a missing boy, in hopes of becoming locals heroes during the summer of 1959.
According to O’Connell, his role as Vern Tessio, whom he described as “the husky kid” among the group of friends, was often all people wanted to talk with him about for years after the film came out.
“It was a very maturing experience for me to just resign [myself] to the fact that this movie is not going anywhere,” O’Connell shared. “People who love it, they keep talking about it, and it’s always gonna be a part of Corey and my lives.”
During the course of filming, O’Connell and Feldman formed a real bond of friendship that stands to this day — and both actors reflected on how unique and special that sort of experience really is.
“You can’t put a price on friends that last  years, especially in this business,” Feldman shared with O’Connell. “I mean, the fact that you even want to talk to each other, it was a miracle, and let alone the fact that we actually call each other and talk to each other in private when we are not doing anniversaries and reunions.”
“You and I will be friends forever, Corey,” O’Connell responded with a smile.
For all the young stars in the film, Stand by Me represented something special — and for O’Connell, it was his big-screen acting debut, which went on to shape his career and, according to the star, his entire journey.
“It really changed my life, being in Stand by Me,” O’Connell reflected. “You don’t even realize it at the time. You don’t even realize it until now when you’re talking about it 35 years later.”
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