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In a treehouse meeting, buddies Jerry O'Connell (l.), River Phoenix (2nd from l.), Wil Wheaton (2nd from r.) and Corey Feldman (r.) plan a two-day journey into the woods that will change the course of their lives. Columbia Pictures' "STAND BY ME," based on the novella, "The Body," by Stephen King, was directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, and produced by Andrew Scheinman, along with Evans and Gideon.
Jerry O'Connell appears as Vern Tessio in Columbia Pictures' "Stand By Me," a story of four boys who set out on a two-day adventure with dreams of becoming town heroes, but before it is over find themselves tested in ways they had never imagined. Directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans, based on the novella, "The Body," by Stephen King, the film was produced by Andrew Scheinman with Evans and Gideon. "Stand By Me" also stars Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Kiefer Sutherland and Richard Dreyfuss as The Writer.
The most insecure of the foursome, Vern Tessio is overweight, sincere and scared of his own shadow. Desperate not to be considered a chicken, Vern attempts to swallow all of his fear to be included.
For several days, Vern and the others have been following news reports about a 12-year-old boy who went hunting for blueberries in the woods. Vern, while digging under his porch, has overheard an awesome secret--his older brother, Billy, and a friend have accidentally stumbled upon the body of the missing boy, dead alongside railroad tracks deep in the forest. Since the gruesome discovery was made while the youths were out joyriding in a stolen car, they have pacted to keep their find a secret. Vern and his pals set out to locate the body.
Born in New York City, O'Connell's acting ambition began in the fourth grade when he showed up dressed in the character of General Douglas MacArthur as a joke for his Japanese-descent school principal. An honor student at Manhattan's Clinton Program School, O'Connell began extensive acting training with teacher Maria Greco and with the H.B. Studio, as well as studying dance with Paula Mason and Ned Williams. His obvious talent ultimately led to an important role in the off-Broadway production of "Water Music," a musical comedy about the life of legendary Hollywood swim star, Esther Williams.
O'Connell was firmly established with his next acting assignment, an important role in the television feature, "Legs." He made his feature film debut with a small role in "Daniel," which starred Timothy Hutton. This was followed by a role in "HBO Consumer Reports."
The young actor has worked in numerous television commercials, including major ones for Duncan Hines and Converse, and also was photographed for a children's workbook published by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.
Director Rob Reiner fully enjoyed working with O'Connell to make "Stand By Me," being particularly impressed by his incredible sense of humor and his intelligence. When the film was made, Jerry was 11 years old. Comments Reiner, "It's amazing that at 11 he had that kind of poise and strength. As a director, with my experience, I could give him things--like readings and comedy rhythms, and he picked them up. He wasn't a kid learning things by rote or putting them to memory or just parroting what I had told him--he actually made it his own and knew what was funny about it."
O'Connell, who loves participating in water sports and gymnastics when not acting and working on maintaining his grades, lives in the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan with his family.
Columbia Pictures presents an Act III Production of a Rob Reiner Film, "Stand By Me," starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell and Kiefer Sutherland, and also starring Richard Dreyfuss as The Writer. Directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Reynold Gideon & Bruce A. Evans, based upon the novella, "The Body," by Stephen King, the film was produced by Andrew Scheinman, Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon. Music is by Jack Nitzsche.