Moment of Truth

A Goonie no more, Corey Feldman is searching for his soul as a rock musician.

Looking back on it now, the film roles Corey Feldman played in the late '80s and early '90s might have been some kind of predictor of the trouble he was to face in the years ahead: He played the attention seeking cutup in The Goonies, the volatile, ear-mangled son of a crazed war veteran in Stand by Me, and a bloodsucking vampire in Lost Boys. If life imitates art, Feldman's eventual, and well-documented, descent into the dark side -- specifically, drug addiction -- and bad, bad movies (Meatballs IV, anyone?) might be viewed as the inevitable result of combining a troubled on- and off-screen youth (Feldman divorced his parents while still a teenager), unchecked adulation (at one point, he and his partner in hunkdom, Corey Haim, had an 800 number that infatuated teenage girls could call to hear daily-changing recordings of the pair), and access to excess. Feldman, now 29, has said that his drug dabbling began with a little curious pot-smoking at the age of thirteen with River Phoenix on the set of Stand by Me and ended when a rather voracious appetite for both cocaine and heroin landed him first in jail, and then in rehab.

Today Feldman is going on ten years of sobriety, still working sporadically in Hollywood and trying to launch a career as the leader of Corey Feldman's Truth Movement (which released Searching for Soul in 1998 on the Vegas Records imprint), a kind of fusiony rock band that seems highly influenced by Feldman's flare for theater. Searching for Soul -- which features different players than those joining Feldman on his current 28-city tour of America -- has lots of keyboard atmospherics, spindly guitars, almost chamber-style vocal harmonies, elevator brass and Feldman's unmistakable voice. It's not particularly good, but it's not horrible, either, and surely it's not as bad as a generation of knee-jerk cynics -- Xers who grew up with The Goonies and can't quite let go of the fact that Feldman used to dress like Michael Jackson -- will probably hope it is. Feldman, of course, knows that no matter what he does, there will be those who are poised to make fun of him. The difference these days is that he doesn't seem to care.

WW: It seems like you currently have fan sites on the Web that are run by young teenage girls. Are there people who are still in love with the teenage you?

Corey Feldman was a Bad boy in a close approximation of Michael Jackson.
Corey Feldman was a Bad boy in a close approximation of Michael Jackson.
Corey Feldman's lived to tell the tale on a new album.
Corey Feldman's lived to tell the tale on a new album.

CF: Geez, you're making me feel like Spinal Tap. I think there's a very interesting range that I hit. There's all those girls who were into me, and now they are beautiful young ladies who are still around. But there are also little kids seeing The Goonies for the first time, and old people who had teenagers watching my movies almost twenty years ago.

WW: Will you ever be able to transcend your status as "that kid from The Goonies"?

CF: No, but it doesn't bother me. It's beautiful that I was part of something that is timeless. That's pretty much anyone's goal as an artist -- to be part of something that creates its own legacy.

WW:: Like Meatballs IV?

CF: [laughs] Yeah, like Meatballs IV.

WW: What's your relationship to Hollywood these days?

CF: I still do everything. Over the past couple of years I have been more on the production end of things. I directed and produced two projects [notably, 1998's She's So Tall], and I put myself in front of the camera as an actor in those projects. I got to the point where I wasn't too keen on going in and auditioning for parts, so I moved into the idea of creating my own projects. Hollywood is so cutthroat, but people respect you if you don't just sit around and wait for things to happen to you.

WW: You have been pretty open about your drug addiction and recovery and the toll it took on your career. Can you reiterate what circumstances led you to make some of the undeniably stinky films that you did?

CF: When I first got out of rehab, when I first got sober and was getting my life together, I was very much in debt; I had a lot of financial restraints. I had to do stuff that probably wouldn't have been my choice. If I had known the damage that it would do to my career, then I probably wouldn't have made those choices. But the reality is you have to do what you have to do. It's funny, because people start saying, "Oh, he must not be serious as an artist. He doesn't care about his career," when you do care. You're just trying to survive.

WW: You filmed an episode of True Hollywood Stories for the E! network. Why did you agree to tell your story to the world?

CF: There were so many different stories going around about me at the time. Every day there were new topics -- it was a whirlwind, a tornado. I wanted to tell the story once and for all and be done with it. Give one interview instead of a million. I didn't realize when I did it that once people saw it, they would put me in this box where that was always my story; it couldn't change after that. That was more than three years ago, and they have repeated it like 500 times, even though my life has changed and that episode hasn't.

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