What the cast of Stand by Me looks like today

It's hard to believe it's been more than 30 years since Rob Reiner's landmark coming-of-age drama Stand by Me debuted. Released in 1986, the movie (based on the Stephen King novella The Body) was a box-office hit, and has since gone on to become a beloved classic. Stand by Me's success helped spawn Reiner's Castle Rock Entertainment production company, and the movie's legacy still lives on today in a slew of subsequent movie and television productions—including Netflix's hit original series Stranger Things. We're revisiting this timeless film with a look at the cast that helped make it a success, and catching up with where they are today.

Wil Wheaton (Gordie Lachance)

The film centers on the life of Gordie Lachance (Wil Wheaton), a 12-year-old growing up in the fictional town of Castle Rock. Gordie's going through a difficult time in his life following the death of his older brother Denny. Facing rejection at home from his grieving parents, Gordie turns to his friends Chris, Teddy, and Vern for support—and the four embark on a weekend adventure that changes them forever.

Today, actor and writer Wil Wheaton is still probably best remembered for his role as Gordie, along with his long-running part as Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, which debuted the year after Stand by Me's release. He's continued acting, appearing in dozens of films and television shows over the years, including Flubber, The Guild, and in a recurring role as himself on the hit series The Big Bang Theory. Wheaton also frequently lends his voice to animated characters, such as Mike Morningstar/Darkstar in the popular Ben 10 universe. Offscreen, Wheaton is a frequent blogger, has written a number of books, and is an avid gamer—he currently hosts the web series TableTop on Felicia Day's YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry.   

Corey Feldman (Teddy Duchamp)

Among the four protagonists of Stand by Me, Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) had the most troubled background. Teddy is obsessed with the military and worships his mentally disturbed veteran father, despite the fact that his dad once held Teddy's ear to a stove during a fit of rage. During one of the most memorable scenes in the film, Teddy faces down an oncoming train until his friends manage to drag him off of the track just before it hits him.

Feldman had a prolific acting career as a child, with starring roles not just in Stand by Me, but also in films like The Goonies, Gremlins, and The Lost Boys (alongside his Stand by Me castmate Kiefer Sutherland). Feldman and his friend and fellow teen idol Corey Haim worked together on a number of occasions before Haim's death from pneumonia in 2010, including in the 1989 film Dream a Little Dream and the A&E reality series The Two Coreys. Like River Phoenix, Feldman is also a musician, and has released a number of albums throughout his career. In 2013, he released a memoir detailing his struggles as a child star and the alleged sexual abuse he and Corey Haim were subjected to in Hollywood. More recently, Feldman married his longtime girlfriend in 2016 and has provided the voice of Slash in Nickelodeon's animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series since 2013.

Jerry O'Connell (Vern Tessio)

Vern Tessio (Jerry O'Connell) rounds out the group of four boys featured in Stand by Me. Vern is the most timid of the group, although he's rather outspoken when it comes to his opinions on Cherry-flavored Pez and the cartoon characters Mighty Mouse and Goofy. Because of his weight, Vern often finds himself bullied by others—especially his older brother Billy and the rest of Ace Merrill's gang. It was actually Vern who helped spur the boys to take their journey after he overheard his brother talking with his friends about the body along the train tracks.

For O'Connell, his debut role in Stand by Me would help spur a long and successful acting career. In the years since, O'Connell has appeared in dozens of films and television shows, including roles in Sliders, Jerry Maguire, Kangaroo Jack, and others. In 2009, O'Connell briefly left acting to enter law school, but he later dropped out to star in the legal series The Defenders alongside Jim Belushi. In recent years, O'Connell has provided the voice of Clark Kent/Superman in the Justice League animated films, and is slated to star in the upcoming comedy crime series Carter.

Kiefer Sutherland (Ace Merrill)

Castle Rock gang leader John "Ace" Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland) spends his days playing pool and "mailbox baseball," stealing cars, and finding easy targets to bully with his gang of delinquent friends. When he learns that Billy Tessio and Charlie Hogan know the location of the body of a missing boy, he decides they'll go recover it to become heroes—putting himself and his gang in direct conflict with Gordie and the younger boys.

His part as Ace in Stand by Me was one of Sutherland's first major roles, but it certainly wasn't his last. He starred in The Lost Boys the following year, and has gone on to have a successful acting career in the years since. He's perhaps best known today for his portrayal of counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer in the long-running Fox series 24. Most recently, Sutherland has toured behind his 2016 country album Down in a Hole and starred as President Tom Kirkman on the ABC political drama series Designated Survivor.

Casey Siemaszko (Billy Tessio)

When Vern Tessio's older brother Billy (Casey Siemaszko) and his buddy Charlie Hogan (Gary Riley) dump a stolen car, they happen to spot the body of Ray Brower, a boy who's been reported missing from a nearby town. As they talk about seeing Brower's body, Vern (who's under the porch digging for his lost jar of pennies) overhears their conversation and tells his friends. Although they swear each other to secrecy, Billy and Charlie later spill the beans to Ace Merrill—who decides they'll recover Brower's body themselves.

Along with his role as Billy in Stand by Me, Siemaszko is known for his roles as 3-D in the Back to the Future film franchise, Curley in Of Mice and Men, and Charlie Bowdre in Young Guns. Siemaszko has also made number of appearances in recurring roles on television crime dramas like Oz, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Blue Bloods, and Damages. His most recent credited role is in a 2016 episode of the Showtime drama television series Billions.

Bradley Gregg (Eyeball Chambers)

Although Ace Merrill rules his gang with an iron fist and a switchblade at the ready, his buddy "Eyeball" Chambers (Bradley Gregg) is his right-hand man. As the older brother of Chris Chambers, Eyeball's criminal behavior is largely responsible for the family's poor reputation in the town of Castle Rock. Eyeball also loves to take any opportunity to bully and beat up on Chris and his friends.

Interestingly, their pairing as brothers in Stand by Me wasn't the first time Bradley Gregg and River Phoenix had worked together; they'd both previously appeared in the 1985 film Explorers. After his stint as Eyeball, Gregg went on to continue his acting career, with appearances in Silver Spoons, Lonesome Dove, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and a number of other films and TV shows. Additionally, Gregg is also a writer and director—he formed the production company Eventide Fields with his wife Dawn, and the couple later wrote about their experience adopting two children—which they later turned into the 2006 documentary Journey to Jemima.  

Jason Oliver (Vince Desjardins)

In one scene from Stand by Me, Ace Merrill takes on his friends in a game of chicken as they drive down a two-lane road. In the other car, Vince Desjardins (Jason Oliver) celebrates when he sees an oncoming truck heading straight towards Ace's convertible—which means he's surely won this time. But Vince's celebrations were premature, as the unpredictable Ace didn't flinch—staying in his lane and forcing the logging truck off the road, before pulling ahead of Vince to win the game.

After Stand by Me, Oliver continued to act, appearing in a handful of small movie and television roles between 1987 and 2001. After that, Oliver left behind acting to focus on other pursuits—like his graphic novel Rollin Bluestone—and producing independent films like Revolution Starts Now, a 2017 short about political protests in Portland, Oregon. Recently, Oliver has returned to the acting world, and can be spotted in the 2017 crime/horror film The Wolves of Savin Hill.

Gary Riley (Charlie Hogan)

Charlie Hogan (Gary Riley) couldn't keep his mouth shut about discovering Ray Brower's body, which led an eavesdropping Vern to hear all about how the missing boy had been hit by a train off a remote road. Vern told his friends, which led the group on their adventure to find Brower's body.

Along with his role on Stand by Me, Riley attracted notice in Hollywood for his parts as a thief in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and as Dave Frazier in the 1987 Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley rom-com Summer School. Following a final role in 1996 as a hacker in the Mark Wahlberg thriller Fear, Riley gave up acting; Since then, he's led a fairly bohemian lifestyle—living off his residual checks and becoming a frequent call-in guest on the Adventure Club Podcast. In 2017, Riley put in an appearance at the annual Brownsville, Oregon "Stand by Me Day" festival.

John Cusack (Denny Lachance)

His time onscreen in Stand by Me is limited to Gordie's dreams and flashbacks, but Denny Lachance (John Cusack) still plays a major part in the events of the film—mostly due to his absence. Denny was killed in a Jeep accident, and Gordie's parents still haven't stopped grieving the loss of their eldest son, which leaves Gordie feeling like a ghost in his own home. It was mostly due to Denny's encouragement that Gordie continued to pursue his talent in writing, which led him to become a writer later in life.

Following Stand by Me, Cusack became famous for his starring roles in films like Say Anything…, Con Air, High Fidelity, and Being John Malkovich. In 2007, he made a successful return to the world of Stephen King when he starred in the popular film adaptation of King's short story 1408 alongside Samuel L. Jackson. Up next for Cusack is a starring role in the 2017 sci-fi film Singularity and an appearance in the horror movie Blood Money.

Richard Dreyfuss (The Writer)

As the narrator of the film, the now-adult Gordie Lachance (Richard Dreyfuss) works as a professional writer and guides the audience through the tale of how he and his three best friends went on a journey to find a body in the late summer of 1959. After his tale ends, we learn through his epilogue what happened to the rest of the boys after they parted ways that weekend: Vern got married straight out of high school, Teddy tried (and failed) to join the Army, and Chris became a lawyer before being killed while trying to break up a knife fight between strangers.

Following the success of Stand by Me, Dreyfuss—already well known to audiences through his starring roles in classic hits like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind—went on to appear in a number of movies and TV shows, including an Oscar-nominated performance for the 1995 film Mr. Holland's Opus. More recently, Dreyfuss has been spotted as real-estate mogul in the Fox miniseries Shots Fired, and he'll soon be seen in the upcoming Netflix original The Last Laugh alongside Chevy Chase, Andie Macdowell, and Lewis Black.

River Phoenix (Chris Chambers)

Throughout the course of Stand by Me, it becomes clear that the natural leader of the group (and Gordie's closest friend) is Chris Chambers (River Phoenix), who struggles with his largely-unearned reputation in Castle Rock due to his family's history of alcoholism and criminal behavior. Chris isn't afraid to stand up for his friends and what's right—which frequently makes him a target for his older brother Eyeball (Bradley Gregg) and gang leader Ace Merrill (Kiefer Sutherland). As revealed in the film's epilogue, that instinct stayed with Chambers his whole life—which ended tragically when he was stabbed while attempting to break up a fight between two strangers.

Child actor River Phoenix became a household name after the release of Stand by Me, later transitioning into adult roles and earning an Oscar nomination at just 19 years old for his role in the 1988 crime drama Running on Empty. He also appeared in other films like My Own Private Idaho, Dogfight, and Sneakers (alongside Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier). Along with his acting career, Phoenix was passionate about music—he was a budding songwriter and invested in Dan Aykroyd's original House of Blues location in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, Phoenix's life would be cut tragically short before he really showed the world what he could do. One night after filming on the set of Dark Blood, Phoenix collapsed outside the Hollywood nightclub the Viper Room following a drug overdose. He was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in full cardiac arrest, but all attempts to revive him failed. He died on October 31st, 1993, at just 23 years old.