Brad Renfro is dead. I still have trouble believing it. I know there are stages in grief and this must be denial. I feel like I've known Brad for years. I mean, I've been following his career for over a decade! It must be like 13 years by now. I had a huge crush on him growing up. I had a poster on my wall. I still have a scrapbook somewhere with clippings and interviews of him and other teen heartthrobs like Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Devon Sawa (what happened to those guys, anyways?). Yes, I thought he was hot, but I also knew he was a very talented young actor and I've seen The Client, The Cure, Tom & Huck, Sleepers, and Apt Pupil a bunch of times in my younger years. This was all back in the 90s.
Since 2000, I've still followed young Brad Renfro's career. I didn't have the poster up anymore, and I stopped scrapbooking, but I did watch his movies when possible. Brad is such an indie kid, it's sometimes difficult to get his films.. especially living elsewhere than the US. I enjoyed his performances in Ghost World and Happy Campers. While I disliked Bully, Brad was great in it. I still have the July 2001 issue of Movieline that features an interview with him in which he stated: "I don't go out and get arrested anymore. The most extravagant thing I do these days is play golf. I'm like an old man."
It never occurred to me that things would end badly for Brad. I knew his bad reputation. I knew he attempted to steal a yacht ("It was a joke, a joke that went very sour."), and that he had substance abuse problems. I always thought he would overcome his problems and make a comeback. Make people see why there was so much buzz when he made his debut in 1994 with The Client.
I've been sad about it all day. It reminds me of when Jonathan Brandis died back in 2003. Both deaths were so unexpected. It makes me wonder if Brad would have been happier back in Knoxville. How his life would've been if he never did The Client and would never have been in Hollywood. Would he be alive and happy today? The world would have been deprived of his talent, but that would have been worth it, right?
Brad Renfro's death is a great loss for Young Hollywood. A loss that's hopefully been met by a hurricane of love...