Twenty-five-year-old actor Brad Renfro was found unresponsive in his Los Angeles home early yesterday morning, and pronounced dead by paramedics at 9 a.m. local time. Renfro made his film debut at age 12 in the 1994 big screen adaptation of John Grisham’s The Client, opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones, but the glare of the spotlight proved too much, as he struggled with issues of sobriety and addiction.
Drugs aren’t yet being cited in his death, but the actor served 10 days in jail in May 2006 after pleading no contest
to driving while intoxicated and guilty to attempted possession of
heroin. The latter charge stemmed from his arrest in Los Angeles’ Skid Row
area after attempting to buy heroin from an undercover officer in
2005 — an act that was captured in a rather astonishing photo splashed across the front page of the Los Angeles Times.
While the last several years found the work less frequent and of less consequence than much of his early work, Renfro apparently just completed a role in The Informers, Buffalo Soldiers director Gregor Jordan’s adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, starring Winona Ryder, Brandon Routh and Billy Bob Thornton.
For me, though, I’ll always remember his turns in Apt Pupil and especially Larry Clark’s Bully, the latter of which was a gripping portrait of careening adolescent excess.