The films coming soon to your local multiplex
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Posted by Anthony Langlois
say he was the most talented child-actors of the 80s, who was on his
way to become a major Hollywood player, and inevitable multi-millionaire.
But after only 3 years of stardom, something changed and he pulled
one of the greatest disappearing acts in movie history, never to come
Oliver was born in LA on August 24 1973. When a family-friend connected
to the Biz "plugged" his big brother Kyle, in the late
70's, little Ollie decided on his own that he too wanted to be on
the telly! Appearances in commercials (especially for Jell-O with
The Coz) quickly led to juvenile guest parts in TV shows, like "Battlestar
Gallactica" and "Knight Rider". In 1982 alone, he
was on the big screen in 3 different movies, before competing with
200 boys for a little fantasy movie called "The Neverending
Story". Rejected for signs of immaturity, he was re-called
6 months later, when no suitable young man could be found, this
time performing a knock out audition for director Wolfgang Petersen.
The film was released in 1984, and young Oliver was fast becoming
an international star.
exposure put him in the path of another former child-sensation,
director Ron Howard (sometimes known as Opie). Howard was casting
for 'Cocoon' when he saw "Neverending story", and quickly
cast this younger version of himself as the movie's only child among
a cast of geriatrics. . In many promotional interviews, he spoke
warmly of his bond with the director, and how he was taken under
his wing. "Cocoon" was an instant heartwarming classic
that even picked up 2 Oscars
hot status made him an easy choice for a much-anticipated sci-fi
project called "D.A.R.Y.L.", in 1985. Despite a deceiving
tenure at the box-office, the movie, about a cybernetic child trying
to fit in with a human family, generated the highest acclaims for
Barrett. Ironically, the experience left him with a bitter taste,
and signaled a change of heart over his acting career. Not that
he became arrogant or developed an oversized ego, but he realized,
according to some of his cast mates, that child actors are seen,
by director and adult actors, only as a tool for easy-money, and
treated as such. The fact that becoming a teenager eroded his child-like
cuteness only deepened the feeling.
Now at 12, the
young man decided to concentrate mainly on school, and started to
refuse offers. He did return for a sequel to "Cocoon"
(a lousy attempt to cash-in on the original's success), in 1988.
The very next year, he would show audiences another side of himself.
In "Scenes From The Class Struggle In Beverly Hills",
starring Jacqueline Bisset, he plays a terminally ill teen that
gets to fulfill his sexual fantasies. Whether he liked the role
or not, it would be his last ever acting performance. After that,
he completely vanished, without even a message to his fans, or an
interview to explain why.
Such a complete
and abrupt disappearance gave way to a wide variety of wild and
persistent rumors, giving the young man a mythical status. Some
said that he fell into drug-related problems, others that he got
into religion (his father is said to be a Scientologist). Some tabloids
even reported his involvement in some grizzly murder case. Not once
did Barrett submerge to confirm or deny these rumors, or even give
a clue on his whereabouts. An anonymous Internet poster, claiming
association with him, stated a few years ago that he wanted his
legend to live on, and so allowed false reports to continue.
The first CONFIRMED
update on his life came in early 2004. According to IMDb, Barrett
Oliver is now a Photography teacher in California, and one of the
last disciples of the 19th Century "Wet Plate" photo technique.
He apparently holds workshops and demonstrations about the craft,
and has even written articles on the subject. One fan who visited
his photo exhibition in California wrote on a fansite that "He
has a full beard, wears glasses and has long hair. His voice was
recognizable, he wasn't really tall, and spoke quietly."
to him? He simply left, and doesn't show any signs of regrets or
desire to come back. But if he ever did, would his fans forgive
him for neglecting them so nonchalantly?
By the way
He was mistakenly thought to have committed suicide in 2003. Many
people confused him with the star of the SECOND "Neverending
Story", Jonathan Brandis, who did take his own life last year,
at the age of 27.