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Eighteen Things You Never Knew About Wil Wheaton

Eighteen Things You Never Knew About Wil Wheaton

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Wil Wheaton is probably best remembered for his starring role in one of the greatest films of the 1980s, Stand By Me. Wil played troubled youngster Gordie Lachance in the heartwarming tale of four friends go on a unique adventure.

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After learning that a young man in their neighbourhood has been killed, Gordie and his friends Vern Tessio (Jerry O’Connell), Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman) decide to go and see the body.

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The coming-of-age film was an instant success and the child stars earned praise from critics for their moving portrayals of four boys who are struggling with what it means to grow up. Since then, Wil has gone on to star in number of films and TV programmes, including Star Trek, Flubber and Teen Titans.

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He’s also a blogger, voice actor and writer, as well as the host of an online Youtube board game show called Table Top. He regularly attends sci-fi conventions and is an advocate for mental health issues.

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With all of that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of eighteen fascinating facts about Wil – scroll down to find out more!

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1. He took a break from acting to work in IT!

Wil is primarily known for his acting career, which has seen him crossover from film into TV and even star as a prominent voice actor for several well-known video games. However, in the early 90s Wil decided that he wanted to explore a new career and temporarily took a break from acting. His chosen job?

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Working as an IT consultant for a company in Kansas. Wil swapped the glamour of Hollywood for a career in computers, but it seems his new job didn’t stick as he soon moved back into the world of acting.

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2) He got his first acting break at only seven years old

Wil’s acting career started at a very young age – he booked his first gig at only seven years old. Like most actors, his first acting job was actually a commercial.

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He starred opposite Bill Cosby in an advert for Jello-O Pudding Pops, an appearance which would later earn him his first TV role in A Long Way Home (1981).

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3) He now stars in hit US comedy The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory has been going since 2007, and quickly proved a hit with audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. The series follows the lives of two physicists whose world is turned upside down when an attractive woman named Penny moves in to the apartment across from them.

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The series features many popular recurring characters and one of these is played by Wil.

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In the hit comedy, Wil plays a fictionalised evil version of himself. He serves as a minor but pivotal antagonist in season three and is generally portrayed as a darker version of himself in earlier seasons.

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However, after making peace with Sheldon in the fifth season, he becomes friends with the other main characters on the show. He recently returned for season eleven, starring in the series finale which saw Sheldon and Amy get married.

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4) He was voted one of the top 100 child stars of all time

After his early appearance in that little-known Jello commercial, Wil worked constantly as a child actor in various TV movies and other programmes. He eventually landed his big break with a starring role in Stand By Me, which propelled him into 80s child actor fame.

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In 2005, VH1 listed Wil as one of their greatest one hundred child stars. Sadly he only made it to number 62 – we think he could have been placed a bit higher up the list!

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5) Wil has done a lot of work for mental health charities

In November 1999 Wil married Anne Prince and became a father to Anne’s two son’s – Nolan and Ryan – from a previous relationship. In interviews, Wil has often credited his wife for standing by him during his battles with anxiety and depression.

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As a life long sufferer, he has often taken time out of his acting schedule to work with non-profit groups which educate people on the subject of mental health.

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Wil has previously spoken at conferences and comic cons about his personal struggle with chronic depression. He used to suffer from panic attacks as a child and still has occasional doubts about his self-worth. However, he credits his wife with helping him through any darker periods in his life.

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Discussing his wife Anne’s support for his own issues, Wil stated ‘My wife is the most awesome person in the universe. She’s made this experience much less miserable for me, with her compassion, patience and understanding’.

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6) He’s a massive fan of Star Trek

Wil is a proud ‘geek’ and like most 80s nerds, he is a huge fan of Star Trek. He has stated in interviews that ‘I am a huge geek. And Star Trek was a haven for geeks.’ Wil even declared once that if he could go back in time, he would probably beat himself up for being such a huge nerd!

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It’s OK to embrace your geekiness Wil – something you might already have achieved anyway with a starring role in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987).

That’s right – Wil actually played the role of Wesley Crusher in a recurring role from 1987 to 1994.

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However, his character was unpopular with die-hard Trekkies who disliked the idea of a boy who seems to constantly save the whole ship from danger. He was later written out of the programme in its fourth season and only appeared sporadically afterwards. The hatred for his character was so strong that it’s even been turned into a pop culture meme, with references to it featuring in Wil’s current series, The Big Bang Theory. 

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Aside from his Star Trek role, Wil has pursued other projects which have allowed him to indulge in his Trekkie obsession. In 1988, Wil Power was the name of his Nickelodeon-based club for all Trek and non-Trek fans. He was also once a celebrity spokesman for NewTek company.

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7) His career has spanned over forty years so far!

It’s very rare for actors to be able to say that their acting career has lasted over four decades, but that’s actually the case for Wil.

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His lengthy career has seen him appear in over thirty five TV shows and forty films. He is currently only 45 years old, so who can say how many more years he’ll be entertaining us.

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8) Wil is a huge fan of video games

Wil has a huge love of video games, a passion which began in his childhood and has continued throughout his adult years. Like his role in Star Trek, Wil has been able to pursue this hobby in his professional life as well.

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He has voiced many characters in hugely popular games, including the Grand Theft Auto Series. In GTA San Andreas he voiced talk radio host Richard Burns, a role he would reprise in later instalments.

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He has also appeared as a voice actor in Ghost Recon 2 and Everquest 2, as well as the hugely popular Fallout series of games. Wheaton’s foray into the world of voice acting recently became political when he joined other voice actors in a strike regarding pay.
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Wil and his fellow artists were concerned that the success of each video game wasn’t reflected in their salary, and proposed bonuses related to sales performance. In a Twitter post, Wil stated the following:

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9) He’s also really into sports

Wil is a massive sports fan, and really enjoys watching ice hockey. He is a life long fan of the Los Angeles Kings and can often be found at their games cheering his favourite team on.

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As well as the LA Kings, Wil is also a huge fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a successful baseball team based in Wil’s hometown.

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10) He had to slow down to let River Phoenix win their running race in Stand By Me

In one scene from Stand By Me Gordie and Chris are racing each other in the junk yard. Wil was actually a much faster runner than River Phoenix was, so he had to modify his run to let Chris win.

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He slowed right down, but moved his arms quickly to make it look like he was running much faster than he really was, so Chris could win the race.

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11) Director Rob Reiner once made him cry

Another famous scene from the film involves the boys running away from a train crossing a bridge. Gordie and Verne are trailing behind their friends and have to literally run for their lives to escape.

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However, it turned out to be a long scene to film for the two actors Wil and Jerry, who had to keep doing the scene again and again as they weren’t getting it right.

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Director Rob Reiner started to get cross and eventually shouted at the pair of them, saying that the crew were all tired and it was their fault.

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Of course, this made the child actors cry, at which point Reiner called action! and got the perfect scene with Gordie and Verne looking scared and in tears. Reiner’s methods might seem a little harsh, but they definitely worked as the infamous bridge crossing scene is one of the tensest moments in the entire film.

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12) Wil is an excellent poker player

As well as his many other hobbies, Wil is also an accomplished poker player. Professionals have noted that he is excellent at playing cards, and his skills have managed to land him coveted places on lucrative celebrity playing teams.

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For example, he once played in the PokerStars.com team in the 2005 World Series of Poker after being spotted by a professional poker player at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

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13) He really wasn’t a fan of The Curse 

The Curse (1987) was an 80s flop and Wil – who played a starring role in the film – was not a fan of it either.

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The story was based on a HP Lovecraft story and followed the adventure of a farm boy whose life changes when an ice-blue meteor plunges to Earth. Wil later stated that the only good thing about the movie was that his sister Amy Wheaton got an acting job on it.

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14) Wil is an avid internet blogger

Wil is a keen blogger and still maintains the active websitewilwheaton.net, one of the most frequented fansites on the Internet. The website actually helped him to revive his career and led to a number of voice acting roles, plus a new career as a blogger and an author.

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He has since written three memoirs; Dancing Barefoot (2003), Just a Geek (2004) and The Happiest Days of Our Lives (2007). All three books are based on musings from his blog.

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15) He’s also massively into online communities

As well as finding the time to update his website and write his memoirs, Wil is an active member of the internet communities Slashdot (slashdot.org) and Reddit (reddit.com).

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He does interviews on a regular basis and participates in discussions online. He also answers private messages. Furthermore, Wil is an active member of the Propeller social news site, where he is a Scout.

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16) Wil has also tried his hand at rapping

Wil has so many strings to his bow that we’re beginning to think he’s a bit of a Renaissance man. He’s conquered the world of acting, voice acting and internet blogging, but did you know that he’s also got some experience of rapping too?!

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He actually said a few lines on Chunky A’s song “Dope, the Big Lie”, which appears on the Chunky A album Large and in Charge (1989).

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17) He absolutely hates dancing

Poor Will isn’t a good dancer, which means he isn’t a particularly big fan of it! He once stated the following in an interview: “I hate dancing. It makes me feel self conscious, stupid, uncoordinated, and like a complete idiot.

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Because I don’t particularly enjoy feeling that way, I probably dance once a year, to only one song, and only to make Anne happy when she wants to dance with her husband at whatever thing we’ve gone to where they have organized dancing.”

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18) He and his family disagree on politics

Wil is a self-proclaimed liberal, whilst his parents are conservatives. In 2005 he wrote a column for Salon.com entitled The Real War on Christmas, in which he attacked conservative commentators like Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for influencing the political views of his parent.

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Wil publicly stated that he was unable to have political discussions during family get-togethers on holidays like Christmas. Unfortunately Wil’s parents were very offended by the article, and he later posted a lengthy apology on his site in which his parents clarified their political views.

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Just to top off the list, here’s a hilarious clip from Family Guy based around Wil’s seemingly easy-to-pronounce name:

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