It’s been 30 years since the Rob Reiner-directed Stand By Me hit cinemas, but the incredible coming-of-age movie has never lost its magic – or poignancy.
The nostalgia-packed adaptation of Stephen King’s The Body introduced a new generation of incredible actors, bringing Wil Wheaton, Kiefer Sutherland and the ill-fated River Phoenix, who tragically died of a drug overdose at the age of 23, to the attention of audiences around the world.
But it also delivered a storyline that everyone, of any age, could relate to; after all, who doesn’t remember those halcyon, sunburnt summer days with one foot tentatively stepping into adulthood and the other firmly planted in the playground?
To celebrate the film’s birthday – also, how has it been 30 years?! – we’ve rounded up 10 facts that will only make you fall even more in love with this incredible classic.
There was a mix-up with some cookies
Kiefer Sutherland admitted in an interview that, while filming on location, the cast and crew paid a visit to a local fair. After loading up on some of the cookies for sale, they realised that they were actually pot cookies; two hours later, Jerry O’Connell was found high as a kite and crying after wandering off into the crowd.
Stephen King’s reaction to the movie was actually visible
Rob Reiner screened the film privately for Stephen King and noticed that the author was “visibly shaking and wasn’t speaking.” When the credits rolled, King abruptly left the room; when he came back, he told Reiner that it was the best adaptation of his work that he’d ever seen.
The plan for the leech-filled pond went slightly wrong
The crew were wary of putting the younger actors into a real body of water because they couldn’t control what may have been lurking below the surface. They compromised with a man-made version, but Corey Feldman pointed out that, since the set had been built, in the woods, a full three months before they filmed, they had no idea what was in the water anyway.
And speaking of leeches…
Stephen King revealed in a special features segment for the DVD that that scene had actually happened to him when he was a child.
The four younger actors got up to a lot of mischief
Corey Feldman, Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix and Jerry O’Connell ran riot around the hotel they stayed in during filming, throwing furniture into the pool, rigging the video games in the lobby so that they could play for free and covering a car in mud. It wasn’t until Kiefer Sutherland confronted the boys that they realised that it had been his car they’d destroyed.
They boys were terrified of Sutherland on set
That old “method acting” chestnut saw Sutherland picking on the four boys on- and off-screen, in order not to break character.
The boys were very involved in their own character developments
Wil Wheaton explains during the DVD commentary that he, Phoenix and Feldman came up with the scene in which O’Connell’s Verne can’t remember the secret knock to get into the clubhouse; they thought it would make Verne seem even more pathetic.
River Phoenix’s incredible acting
The campfire scene, where Phoenix’s character Chris has an emotional breakdown, was incredibly real. Reiner felt Phoenix could do better and told him to remember a time in his life where he had been let down by an adult and use those feelings while shooting. When the scene was finished, Phoenix was so upset that he had to be comforted by Reiner before he could continue. That was the cut that made it into the film.
Teddy Duchamp’s laugh took a lot of work
Corey Feldman and Reiner trialled 30 different laughs for Feldman’s character of Teddy Duchamp, before eventually settling on the one heard in the movie. Funnily enough, it was the laugh most close to the one described in Stephen King’s writing.
The boys’ reaction to the body is completely real
None of the young actors were allowed to see Ray Brower until they were shooting the scene; Reiner believed it would unsettle them, and provide the most realistic reaction.
Hands up who feels like digging out the DVD?