Jonathan Brandis: How life after teen stardom can take a wrong turn

Categories: Film and TV

Brandis in Ladybugs
Then add in the middle-school preference for boys who look soft: big eyes, round cheeks, full lips, thick hair. Muscles and chest fur are scary -- tweens favor male stars who look like their idea of a hot date is a milkshake and a cuddle. The No. 1 insult boys in my eighth grade had for Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Renfro, River Phoenix, Corey Haim, Macaulay Culkin, Edward Furlong and, yes, Jonathan Brandis was, "He looks like a girl." Which was especially hard to deny when Brandis came to fame playing a soccer star who dressed in drag and called himself Martha.

See also: How River Phoenix Inspired a Generation

How many of those teen heartthrobs transitioned into adult stars? One. DiCaprio acknowledged the cull in a 2010 interview with Rolling Stone. "My two main competitors in the beginning, the blond-haired kids I went to audition with, one hung himself and the other died of a heroin overdose," he said. The suicide is Brandis. The OD could have been any one of several.

Four thousand fan letters every week aside, it's tough being a girly-looking guy with your face all over the newsstands, even if the articles themselves are nice. For one, your face probably won't age into something masculine enough to play adult roles and action heroes -- even DiCaprio has had to disguise his soft features with a thick layer of fat. Worse, teen girls are fickle. When they get a new crush, those letters stop.

"When you've been on covers of magazines for years, when that stops happening, what's your identity?" Tatyana Ali, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star and Brandis' ex-girlfriend, explained in an interview about his death. At least young actresses who never experience that Tiger Beat fan frenzy don't have to surf its sudden dropoff. More of them survive: Natalie Portman, Jodie Foster, Winona Ryder, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Williams, Dakota Fanning, Christina Applegate, Claire Danes.

Girls, of course, have their own problems: the intense media fascination with their weight and virginity, the dulling de rigueur "naughty" phase. As a culture, we need to stop caring if our teen actresses have sex. Let's start caring about if they -- and their male co-stars -- are happy.


Amy Nicholson on Twitter:


My Voice Nation Help
35 comments
goslingsawagreen
goslingsawagreen

who wants to deal with male depression?  Culture hasnt changed at all!  Its just worse for guys since guys need to suck it up

Beth Ramsey Anderson
Beth Ramsey Anderson

How could they leave out The Neverending Story? Those were good times. It's sad that didn't continue for him.

Holly Janette Bartholomaei
Holly Janette Bartholomaei

Sarah Hartman-O'Neil i didn't know he died!:*( i always remembered you talking abt him in gate, though...

Cornhusker
Cornhusker

One more perfect example about how kids being on shows and in Hollywood seriously fucks them up big time. From the little rascals all the way up to this guy they all get fucked up. Enough already. It never works out ok.

Richard Sebastian
Richard Sebastian

Sad to know how the media has always been. He now doesn't have to suffer anymore. God bless!

Tomas Parkanyi
Tomas Parkanyi

SEAQUEST!!!! That poor dolphin must have been sad when he was told that LUCAS was gone..

Carlye Reed
Carlye Reed

Ladybugs was one of my favorites as a kid, and side kicks... I had quite the formidable crush

Conrad Luethy
Conrad Luethy

he was my first crush i liked him in ladybugs

April Cote Rodrigues
April Cote Rodrigues

I always read that he was taking a prescription acne medicine that can cause depression and suicidal thoughts. Maybe it wouldn't have happened otherwise. :(

Nathan Espinoza
Nathan Espinoza

weird, I just mentioned this dude the other day. Poor guy, he was a great actor

Scott R. Shriver
Scott R. Shriver

Wow. I remember his death. Never thought I'd see mention of it again in the media. Tyvm

Adam Aedro Drotar
Adam Aedro Drotar

Care if their happy? They make more for a made for t movie than I make in a year. Fuck if I care if they hang themselves.

Ean Seeb
Ean Seeb

So sad. We had a lot of good times together on and off the set of Ladybugs where we met. Teaching him and his co-stars how to smoke cigarettes in a field near their hotel, going to Benihana in Tamarac with Jonathan and the girls on "the team" and getting pictures taken for their wall of fame, going into the video store on Hampden where the old comedy club was, bringing all of the movies he was in up to the counter, only to run away when the clerk realized it was him, ripping up several of his headshots as he wrote inappropriate things to my little sister on an autograph, him pulling my pants down while I was serving empty cups of Pepsi to extras during a scene at a concession stand, watching him fall in love and make out with his co-star Vinessa Shaw. Good times, Jonathan! I'll never forget it.

Jill Mullican
Jill Mullican

I was so shocked when he committed suicide...I thought he was great, and when I stopped seeing him in movies, I wrongly assumed he'd just moved on to better things. It was my first glimpse into how depression can make a person lose sight of what is so obvious to others - things change, but you still have a future.

Sarah Fidler
Sarah Fidler

How sad! :( I didnt know that and we were just watching The Neverending Story 2 the other day. I was wondering what ever happened to him. Gotta love Hollywood...they will make you and/or break you. :(

Paul Rosales
Paul Rosales

He had asthma and was a dreamer! Pussies don't break 9 bricks that were lit on fire by the wizard from Conan the Barbarian #fryingdragonkarate

Ben Verbeck
Ben Verbeck

Barry Gabrewski was the biggest pussy.

Heather Nichols
Heather Nichols

I loved him! I also had friends that filmed with him in Ladybugs and they said he was a nice guy. Still hard to believe he's been gone 10 years.

Andy Sereda
Andy Sereda

Ladybugs was a horrible movie. So bad, that it was good. I still watch it when it comes on.

Taylor Healy
Taylor Healy

I was just watching "It" the other day...

Amy Rice
Amy Rice

He was my first crush! I would get that magazine Big Bopper when i was a preteen and plaster pictures of him, Christian Slater, and Johnny Depp all over my walls

Bev Harris
Bev Harris

he was also in the 2nd Neverending Story

Sandy Peterson
Sandy Peterson

Awww the only guy I ever put a picture of on my wall. Sigh.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...