The 80s teen star is known for odd, even sleazy behaviour. Is that why his claims about the film industry are not taken seriously?
At first glance, Corey Feldmans house looks ridiculous. A crooked Christmas wreath hangs on the front door, even though it is late January. Feldmans assistant lets me into the two-storey home in the hills of Los Angeles, and when I walk into the living room I have to bite the insides of my cheeks to stop myself from gasping: hanging above the fireplace is a drawing of Feldman from his 80s teen glory years. The bookcases are packed with vintage toys, most still in their boxes, most from Feldmans own movies: theres Goonies merch, Gremlins memorabilia, The Lost Boys souvenirs. And, of course, there are the inevitable posters of his films, including License to Drive and Stand By Me. Its like a parody of how one might imagine a former child stars house to look: one part Neverland to two parts Norma Desmond. I havent even mentioned the picture of Michael Jackson with whom Feldman was friends as a child in the front hallway, greeting you as you walk past.
I was a big Feldman fan back in the day, and maintain that his performance in Stand By Me equals River Phoenixs more acclaimed one. But standing in his living room I find myself doing what most others do about Feldman these days: Look at this guy, I think, giving in to the siren call of snark. What a joke!
Feldman, 48, eventually appears and he doesnt look much less absurd than his house. Its hot outside, but he is in a lavishly patterned shirt, a waistcoat and suit trousers. He still has that thin-lipped wide grin that made him so recognisable as a child actor, but set alongside his skinny build, it now emphasises his jagged, cracked appearance. But hes very solicitous, making sure I have a drink, that Im comfortable on the sofa, even though hes having a terrible day. Well get to that, but first, I have to ask, doesnt he find having all these old toys around him a bit, well, depressing?
No, not at all, he says. The experiences that were bad werent working on Gremlins or Goonies. This is all the fun stuff.
And then I belatedly realise Feldman isnt showing off his past glories. Hes hugging close the all-too-brief pocket in time when he was starting to get away from his exploitative parents, but before he was sexually molested as a teenager. That tiny sliver of his childhood that was not ruined by the adults who should have been looking after him.
Back in the mid to late 80s, Feldman was known for being one of the most popular teen pin-ups in the world. He and his fellow child actor Corey Haim best friends and frequent co-stars were known as the Two Coreys. Girls covered their schoolbooks in Corey stickers, called up the Coreys cash-in phone lines, stood outside their homes screaming. Those days are long gone, and now Feldman is better known for something else. After Haim died at the age of 38 in 2010 of pneumonia, after years of painfully public substance addiction, Feldman spoke out about the sex abuse he and Haim suffered in the film industry.
The biggest problem in Hollywood, he repeats, mantra-like, is paedophilia. His fellow former child actor Alison Arngrim has said, I literally heard that [the Two Coreys] were passed around. The word was they were given drugs and being used for sex.
According to Feldman, Haim was raped by a major Hollywood figure while making the 1986 film Lucas. Reviewing that film, Roger Ebert predicted that Haim would grow into an important actor. He is that good. He was, but instead he became a bloated and bankrupt shell of a man, forced in later years to appear on reality TV shows in which he was so out of it he hardly knew where he was. He made me promise before he died that I would get the truth out, says Feldman. It would be an understatement to say this has become a crusade for him, much to the dismay of Haims mother, Judy, who agrees her son was abused, but says Feldman is exploiting his memory.
Today, Feldman is pacing around his house anxiously because his long-promised documentary, which he wrote, directed and financed, is likely to be delayed yet again because of a problem with the insurance. It is provisionally titled Truth: The Rape of the Two Coreys. Feldman says he not only names his and Haims abusers after almost a decade of hints and promises, but also taps into what he insists is a conspiracy to protect them. The fact that he cant get his film out is, in his eyes, proof of this. Nobody wants to go after the bad guys, he says and he shows me emails from lawyers denying him access to police reports and video footage. What the hell is really going on here? he asks.
It must drive you crazy with frustration, I say.
Do I look crazy? he asks, eyes blazing.