Brad Renfro

Active - 1994 - 2008  |   Born - Jul 25, 1982 in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States  |   Died - Jan 15, 2008   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy Drama, Thriller, Crime

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

One of the hottest teen idols of the mid- to late '90s, talented dramatic actor Brad Renfro also garnered adult fans for building an impressive filmography that includes performances opposite some of Hollywood's most respected actors. A native of Knoxville, TN, Renfro was raised by his grandmother following his parents' divorce. He broke into movies at age ten, when he impressed an audience member during a D.A.R.E. (a national anti-drug organization promoted by local police departments) skit (he was playing a drug dealer). This unknown person recommended Renfro to a talent scout who was holding a national open casting call for a young man to play a traumatized boy who finds himself in the midst of a deadly homicide case in Joel Schumacher's The Client (1994). Renfro, who had no training and no real acting experience, won the part and found himself working opposite such heavy hitters as Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon, Ossie Davis, and Mary-Louise Parker. Though such stellar company may have been daunting to others, Renfro held his own and earned positive reviews for his performance. He next played a new kid in town who befriends and decides to find a cure for an AIDS-afflicted boy (veteran child actor Joseph Mazzello) in Peter Horton's heart-tugging The Cure (1995). In 1996, Renfro played Huck Finn to Jonathan Taylor Thomas' Tom Sawyer in Disney's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and then essayed an abused boy (Brad Pitt played him as a vengeful adult) in Sleepers (1996). In 1998, he starred opposite Ian McKellen as a high school student morbidly fascinated by Nazi atrocities who finds himself drawn to an elderly, sinister war criminal in Bryan Singer's sophomore film Apt Pupil. Renfro was found dead at age 25 in January 2008.

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  • Raised by his grandmother after his parents' divorce.
  • After participating in the drug education program D.A.R.E., he was encouraged by a police officer in the program to audition for The Client (1994).
  • Received a Young Star Award for his work in The Client and was nominated again the following year for The Cure (1995).
  • Charged with grand theft after attempting to steal a $175,000 yacht in Fort Lauderdale, FL, in 2000.
  • Played blues guitar.
  • Died of a heroin overdose in his Los Angeles home in 2008.