Death in Hollywood: Renfro, Brad (The Client, Sleepers), Actor Found Dead at 25

January 15, 2008–Brad Renfro, the young gifted American actor who appeared in The Client, Sleepers, and Bully, was found dead. He was 25. The cause of death was not immediately known. Renfro had battled problems of drug and alcohol use in the past.

The former child star began his career aged 12, playing the boy at the centre of 1994 mafia drama The Client. Renfro had little acting experience when he won the role alongside Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

He went on to star in childhood drama The Cure and played Huck Finn in boyhood adventure Tom and Huck, both in 1995.

In Barry Levinson’s Sleepers, he appeared as the young version of the character played by Brad Pitt. After that, he took a lead role in controversial teen drama Bully in 2001 and featured in Ghost World with Scarlett Johansson.

He had just finished shooting The Informers, an adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel, with Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton. Film producer Marco Weber said: “Brad was an exceptionally talented young actor and our time spent with him was thoroughly enjoyable.”

But Renfro was also known for his personal problems. He was working hard on his sobriety, he was doing well, he was a nice person. In 1998, he was charged with cocaine and marijuana possession and avoided jail time with a plea bargain. In 2001, he was put on probation and ordered to pay $4,000 for repairs to a 45-foot yacht he and a friend tried to steal in Florida.
Four months later, he was arrested for under-age drinking, violating his probation, and was ordered to undergo alcohol rehabilitation.

In 2005, he was charged with driving under the influence and two counts of driving with a suspended licence, leading to 10 days in jail and 18 months of alcohol education classes.

In a separate incident the same year, he was charged with attempting to possess heroin, resulting in entry to a drug rehabilitation program. Renfro’s lawyer Richard Kaplan told the Associated Press news agency: “He was working hard on his sobriety. He was doing well. He was a nice person.”

Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the LA County coroner’s office, said Renfro had reportedly been drinking with friends the evening before his death. The actor’s body was found at home on Monday, coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter told Reuters news agency.