See ’80s teen idol and ‘Star Trek’ star Wil Wheaton now at 49

Like a teenager, Wil Wheaton seemed to have everything an actor could want. At 13, he starred in the acclaimed 1986 coming-of-age drama support me next to Phoenix River and started appearing regularly in teen magazines like tiger beat. A year later, he was cast as the young genius Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generationwho quickly became one of most popular dramas on television.

But a few years later, when The next generation was still flying high in its fourth season – Wheaton walked away from fame. He leaves star trek and, soon after, abandoned Hollywood altogether. But that was far from the end of his journey. Keep reading to find out why the 49-year-old quit acting, what brought him back and where he is today.

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Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Corn Star Trek: The Next Generation was embraced by audiences, becoming the first television series to be nominated for a Hugo Award— sci-fi fandom’s highest honor — in more than a decade, not all of the attention Wheaton received was positive. Some fans of the show took issue with his character, calling the precocious teenage genius a blatant attempt by the producers to attract young viewers.

But the negative fan reaction apparently had nothing to do with why Wheaton decided to leave the show at the height of its popularity. According to a post on his personal websitehe felt like the show was holding him back from a career in film and that the producers were actively trying to sabotage him.

Wheaton writes that the conflict came to a head when he was cast in the film Valmontfrom the Oscar-winning director Milos Forman (Amedee). star trekThe producers of refused to rearrange his filming schedule for even a single day, explaining that Wesley played a key role in this episode. Wheaton turned down the film, only to learn later that he had been cut from the episode altogether.

“What they were doing was they were messaging me,” Wheaton said on her blog. “The message was, ‘You belong to us. Never try to do anything without us. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me… That’s what really pushed me to the brink… That’s why I left. »

Wil Wheaton in 2019
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood (WBSTH)

Unfortunately, Wheaton’s posthiking his film career was not quite what he dreamed of. After appearing in a handful of films, including the 1991 critical and commercial flop toy soldiers– he ended up quitting the theater altogether. He moved to Topeka, Kansas to work for a software company called NewTek.

After two years of development aid the video toaster, which aimed to make video production more accessible to the masses, Wheaton decided to give Hollywood another shot. He returned to Los Angeles and took five years of acting classes while trying to revive his career.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Wheaton worked steadily, landing roles in independent films, TV movies, and occasionally on shows such as The outer limits and Love Boat: The Next Wave. But he didn’t relish the drudgery of looking for parts and had trouble convincing casting agents there was more to him than Wesley Crusher, according to a Profile 2005 in The Los Angeles Times. His journey back into the public eye would end up taking an unexpected detour.

Wil Wheaton in 2021
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In 2000, in order to speak directly to his fans and try to rebuild his brand, Wheaton started a blog called Just a Geek, which quickly became one of the most popular personal websites on the Internet.

“When I started my blog, I was very excited to bypass media filters and go straight to the public with whatever came to mind,” Wheaton said in a 2005 interview with Forbes. “I just wanted to write, and maybe show my fellow geeks that I wasn’t Wesley Crusher. But doing that…I was one of the only people you could see on TV or in movies. films, then communicate directly with him via his blog.

Wheaton has used the platform to speak openly with her readers and fans about her professional struggles, personal life, and struggles with depression and anxiety. The success of the blog, which he transformed into a published memoir of the same name in 2004, earned Wheaton a large online fan base. He still blogs today and has more than 1.1 million followers on Instagram. His direct connection to his community of fellow geeks helped turn his career around.

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There’s no clearer example of the internet’s effect on Wheaton’s career than his string of appearances on The Big Bang Theory, one of the most popular sitcoms on television. He played himself in 17 episodes spanning eight seasons of the show – a role he got in tweet about the show. Around the same time, he also appeared in guest roles on the show Num3ers, Leverageand Eurekaand hosted a short-lived talk show on the Syfy Network, The Wil Wheaton Project.

But it’s his online work that has kept him the most busy. In 2012, he launched the web series table topin which he gathered with his friends, family and other famous geeks like buffy the vampire slayerit’s Amber Benson and seth green, Star Trek: Voyagerit’s jeri ryanand comedian Kumail Nanjiani to play board games. Streamed on YouTube, the show was a huge hit, with an Indiegogo campaign for its third season raising over $1.4 million in pledges. table top ended in 2016 after 81 episodes.

Lately, Wheaton’s voice might be even more familiar to fans than his face. He has voiced characters in more than a dozen animated series and video games and narrated more than 50 audiobooks, earning five Audio Publishers Association “Audie Award” nominations.

Over the past few years, Wheaton has continued to perform here and there, mostly voice work, but also occasionally in front of the camera, including a villainous role on the CW series. super girl. He admitted that he still finds the latter upsetting due to the stress he experienced during his years as a child actor.

“It was really important to [my mom] that I get famous so she can be the mother of the famous actor and that sucks,” Wheaton Recount Subway in 2020. “That choice cost me my relationship with my parents and as a result, I don’t really like acting in front of the camera. It’s a bit triggering and a bit traumatic.”

He still writes too. He has completed two more essay collections and a novel, and continues to use his blog to talk about his mental health. In January 2021, he announces on Facebook that he has just celebrated five years of sobriety and that his decision to quit drinking led him to confront the source of his pain: his relationship with his estranged parents.

Life with his immediate family, at least, seems much happier. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Anne Princewhom he married in 1999. Together, the couple raised Nolan and Ryan, Anne’s two adult sons from a previous relationship. Wheaton finally adopted them when they were adults, after they asked him.

In April, Wheaton will publish an updated and annotated edition of his 2004 memoir. a reviewer on Goodreadsin Still just a geek: an annotated memoirthe former teen idol revisits blog posts and essays originally written nearly 20 years ago and reflects on where he was in his life then and what he would do differently today today.

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