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(Taken from Details Magazine 2001)





    THINGS ARE GOING SWIMMINGLY AT SIX FLAGS, Hurricane Harbor in Valencia,California,when Brad Renfro starts smashing his camera. The 19-year-old actor has just learned that his girlfriend won't take big........ and he's talking it out on an Instamatic.

    One of Hollywood's most promising young actors-at age 12 the Knoxville native debuted astreetwisekid with Susan Sarandon for a lawyer in The Client and held his own against Oscar-nominated Sir Ian McKellan in Bryan Singer's 1998 Apt Pupil- Renfro is enjoying a weekend reprieve from his latest film an indie prison flick called Lifer's Picnic earlier in the day at his suggestion we purchased $7,99 bathing suits  at a hearby Marshall's and headed to the B.......... hot water park. After a pit stop at his hotel's room- trashed, rock star style, with Western video, a miniature race-car set, guitars draped with underwear- to pick up his "old lady" (golden-haired, pink complexioned Jennifer McDaniel,18) and one of his guitars, we were gone.

    Now at Six Flags, an oversize button-down  plaid shirt covering his buggy trunks, Renfro is incognito. His receding blondish hair is frizzed from humidity. Despite his natural good looks and brooding Brando eyes, his scraggly, featherweight frame (with a beer gut he proudly protrudes like a badge of honor) makes him look like Johnny Depp in the third act of  Blow.

    Though smoking is prohibited in the park, Renfro tries to burn a match from his fellow water fanatics. Giving up, he hides the Marlboro Lights in a thicket of ivy. Meanwhile, the heat seems to be getting to McDaniel: she's afraid the rides will make her sick. After several failed attempts at stashing the water-vulnerable camera in the crevice of  a papier-mâché cliff so we can ride. Renfro snaps, "Fine," he says, dropping the thing to the ground and stomping it with his running shoe: a temper tantrum out of nowhere.

    At this point, McDaniel, an aspiring actress who's also from Knoxville, storms off as Renfro and I climb the gangplank to a ride that features a stomach-emptying 90-degree drop. Breaking into the groggy, effete voice of the killer transvestite in the Silence of the Lambs, Renfro says, "It places its ass on the slides, as it's told," and suddenly disappears into the flume spiraling downward to the bottom.

    "That wasn't so great," he says, the fun of the day ruined by a storm growing in the skies and in his squinting eyes. We leave. Under a tree in a nearby corporate park, Renfro takes his guitar and rips a few blues licks before playing a song by that trailer  park troubadour John Prine. "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes," Renfro sings, "Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose."

    Cruising back to the hotel, he borrows my cell phone to call his grandmother. He's live with her in Tennessee since his mother, who now resides only a mile away, handed him over when he was 6. His father, who makes architectural blueprints, also lives nearby, Renfro goes fishing with him regularly. "Are they proud of me." he says repeating my question, "Most definitely. They Understand me."

    "Rough times," he says of growing up. "But I can't blame anyone for it. My mom did the best possible thing for her kid." On the phone now, the actor breaks into his best cracker accent: "Hi, Grandma! I am soooo high on the Lord today! I can feel him in me!" Then, in his normal voice he asks her. "Um, can I get your credit card number for a hotel room? I have to go into L.A for the night."


    IN HOLLYWOOD, BRAD RENFRO IS OFTEN COMpared to 'James' Dean, whom we .......... actor he has the most common with these days as Robert Downey Jr, like Downey, Renfro has a history of drugs and alcohol related arrests and a family legacy of drug abuse (in renfro's case, his grandfather). And like Downey, Renfro is a natural whose talent remains mostly unhampered by his excesses. "His approach to acting was to improvise and do it in the cameras rolled " ,says the classically trained McKellan," which didn't accord to my own acting theories. But his performance proved quite brilliant." And he is only 19 years old.

    Renfro began acting at age 10,portraying appropriately enough a drug dealer in a D.A.R.E sponsored school play. A police officer who saw him gave his name to the agent casting for The Client. Before long, Renfro found himself playing a kid everybody wants to kill in Joel Schumacher's popular adaptation of John Grisham thriller. Three years later, with four more films under his belt, he was arrested near his hometown with two grams of cocaine in a cigarette box and a bag of marijuana in a sock. Because he was a minor, he was released to his grandmother and given an unofficial six months probation.

    "I'm glad it happened when I was 16, not 36," he said at t he time. His advice to other teens "If you've never done it, don't. If you have done it, pray. Then get some good sober time. Once you've had that you'll have a natural high."


    BUT LAST YEAR, IN FT.LAUDERDALE, while preparing to shoot Bully, Larry (kids) Clark's latest troubled-teen drama- he also managed to bag starring roles in the upcoming Deuce's Wild, a teen-gang film with Stephen Dorff and Happy Campers, a teen camp film with Dominique Swain- Renfro was arrested again, while attempting to steal a yacht. Renfro and a friend had forgotten to undo the lines and the boat boomeranged back into the dock. He was charged with grand theft. Released on $10.000 bond, he was later sentenced to two year probation.

    Humbled, Renfro told the county circuit judge: "I don't have any excuses or fast one-liners to pull out of my shoes."

Back at a strip mall sushi bar he has adopted as a second home during the shoot, Renfro discusses his troubles, his reputation, and how he's getting on. Unlike your average flack controlled actor, he comes off as honest, open, kindhearted. He's  a charmer with addictive energy, laying on the Southern accent when the spirit moves him. He says things like, "Don't sweat nothing petty, don't pet nothing sweaty." Spending a weekend with him is exhausting but entertaining.

    Renfro is that kid you knew back when who would do anything. And he has, in grade school, just before he was discovered, he would dress up in "dumb ass costumes" he'd parade around downtown Knoxville wearing a tutu, fishing vest and clown shoes. He call this "funk daddying." Hearing about his childhood high jinks, it becomes difficult to look at his botched yacht theft as anything more than youthful bell-raising.

    Which is probably what they said about Downey in his earlier years.

    "I don't sweat nobody's ball." Renfro says, then translates, "I don't lie."

    Of reporters who have interviewed him, he says, "You can just feel the slime on them." Of film critics. "They're the fat kids in the high school that nobody liked, so they're out to get to you. Those kids become mass murderers or film critics "he pities Downey-he calls him "Bobert"- and sees the similarities in himself and the actor. "God forbid we ever start  hanging out, 'cause then, it would be just over.

    Like a lot of actors, Renfro would like to direct. "I think he saw acting as a means of escaping Tennessee," says McKellan. "I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up not needing to act." Renfro wants to direct a film about his granddad, Bill McCrory, who died during heart surgery in May. "My grandfather was a drugstore cowboy. He was 61 when he died. He was legally dead for like fifteen minutes, then came back for a little while, then died. He just liked that damned dough." And those damned drugs.

    His grandfather robbed pharmacies to feed his habit, says Renfro, like Matt Dillon's character in the Gus Van Sant classic. But this would be Renfro's movie (working title: The Real McCrory). He already has the funeral scene mapped out: "There's Willie Nelson blasting "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to The Cowboys." A friend of the family is sitting there with a big marijuana leaf on his shirt. "It will be a redneck party, he says

    Renfro has inherited his grandfather's feeling about the law." They think I'm a new Antichrist," he says of his tormentors, "I'm the guy they love to hate." And of his substance-abuse issues? "On the drug front, I'm doing real well."

    He was clean for Bully, he says, "I hate every fucking movie that I do for some reason," he says. "But I look at Bully- and this may be the most pompous thing I've ever said in my life- but that's the most brilliant I've ever seen me, playing a little dumb Florida boy." Based on a true story, Bully recounts the murder of a browbeater by his friends and victims. ( Many cities found the film's violent denouement revolting.)

    While shooting the film, Renfro dated actress Rachel Miner (the former Mrs. Macaulay Culkin), who plays his troubled girlfriend. The relationship did not last. "I wished it had worked out," Renfro says, "but she lives in New York."

    The actor's grandmother, Joanne Renfro, is a 70-year-old retired church clerk. She says it was more than geography that drove her grandson and Miner apart: "She was a nice girl and didn't like to party at all. Brad's got to get that partying out of him. If he's going to do it, I tell him. Do it at home, but  Brad's an exhibitionist. He likes to see and be seen. " She worries about her grandson; there's only so much she can do." Brad over 18 now, I've turned him loose," she says. "I'm not going to be here forever."


     ROAD-TRIPPING SOUTH TO L.A FROM VALENCIA, Renfro decides to treat McDaniel, who turns 19 the next day, to an early birthday present: a night at the Château Marmont.

    The Marmont had been the scene of much Hollywood excess; it was here that John Belushi had his last room service. Sitting in the small dining room adjacent to the hotel lobby, Renfro is drinking Crown Royal and Coke, "Can I get a 'happy birthday' for my girlfriend?" he shouts at a group of stylish young men sitting in the lobby. Thyself-consciously oblige.

    "He gets crazy on whiskey," says McDaniel, eliciting a dirty look from Renfro. As if to prove her point, he moves to the grand piano, where he starts improvising. It is not his instrument and soon a waiter politely asks him to refrain: "Some of the diners are complaining." So Renfro walks out to the soutryard, where, on a double-dog-dare, he does a series somersaults across the manicured lawn before returning to the table.

    "I want to take the underworld to the top of the world," he says cryptically, "I feel so sorry for the ignorant and I cry for them and try to be them- and it don't work." Renfro is working a few things out himself, "I've been insane my whole life," he says.

    I ask him about the yacht incident. "The press had a good old time, calling me Gomer Pyle," he says. "I rammed a boat into a dock because I was pissed at the owner, I don't know him. I was pissed he had a nice-ass yacht. And what have I got?" Answering himself, he says, "All I need."

    "That's bad-ass no?"


NOTES: The black block means I can't read the word SORRY!!!!
But you can try to read it from The scanned Pics of the magz ((just click them)