Kiefer Sutherland Says “I’m No Bully!”

Stand by Me Kiefer Sutherland, 1986
Everett Collection

1986’s Stand by Me starred Kiefer Sutherland, Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell in a film about four boys who learn a stranger has been killed near their homes and they go out to try to find the missing body. Along the way, they have some defining experiences. It has been said that Sutherland bullied the four younger boys on set to keep in character during filming. In a post on social media, O’Connell joked, “We can take him now. Anytime. Any place.”

During a recent episode of The Talk, Sutherland shut down these rumors. He revealed, “Absolutely not true. First of all, I’m not that kind of actor and I wouldn’t want to be that kind of person. I spent a lot of time with River Phoenix because we both played guitar, and so that was kind of an in to him. Even though I was seven years older, we were both beginning, right. And so there was a lot of discussion about ‘How do you develop a character, what is your process?’”

Stand by Me Jerry O'Connell, Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, 1986

Everett Collection

He added, “Actually, it’s very funny, that at the age of 17, which I was in ‘Stand by Me,’ I had probably a more in-depth process than I even do now. But we didn’t get to work together. I think one of things that’s been frustrating for me when I think about ‘Stand by Me,’ is they always ask me what everybody else was like … we really only had the one big scene at the end, where Wil Wheaton pulls the gun and I had to run away like a girl.”

Stand by Me Kiefer Sutherland, 1986

Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

O’Connell, a co-host of The Talk, responded, “You were 17 when you did ‘Stand by Me’? I felt like you were like 40. I just thought you were the most grown-up person … Now, I will say that Kiefer did not bully us, there was no bullying. But Kiefer, I was so scared of you.”


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A post shared by Kiefer Sutherland (@kiefersutherland)

I guess that puts the rumor to rest once and for all. After the show, Sutherland shared a photo of himself and O’Connell on social media and wrote that he got to visit an old friend on the talk show.

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March 2023

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