Thursday, March 11, 2010
DELICIOUS remembers: "Lost Boy" Corey Haim
The Canadian actor, who has died unexpectedly aged 38, did not spend more than a few years in the limelight. Yet it was his chirpy, irrepressible personality, as much as the occasional high-profile film role between the mid-1980s and early 90s, that earned him the affectionate regard of mainstream audiences. Out of a meagre selection of movies, many of which went straight to video or DVD, it was the 1987 vampire romp The Lost Boys which earned him his teenybopper fanbase; the lopsided smile, impish eyes and jauntily spiked hair made him perfect pin-up fodder. The Lost Boys paired him with Corey Feldman, another rising young actor, who would become his close friend and frequent co-star. Viewers responded positively to the rapport between these young clowns who relished visibly the privileges of their fame.
Haim was born in Toronto to Bernie, a salesman, and Judy, who worked in computing. His parents separated when Haim was 11; by this time, he had already expressed an interest in acting after attending auditions with his older sister, Cari. He landed a regular part on the Canadian television series The Edison Twins, then travelled to Los Angeles to appear in his 1984 debut film, First Born. This drama starred Teri Garr as a divorced mother-of-two whose disreputable new boyfriend is rumbled by her offspring, including Haim as the younger lad. Haim was also cast as Sally Field's son in the romantic comedy Murphy's Romance (1985).
He started to attract positive notices, including one from Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, who singled him out in a review of Lucas (1986), the actor's first lead role. "Lucas is played by Corey Haim, who ... does not give one of those cute little boy performances that get on your nerves," wrote Ebert. "He creates one of the most three-dimensional, complicated, interesting characters of any age in any recent movie. If he can continue to act this well, he will never become a half-forgotten child star, but will continue to grow into an important actor. He is that good."
Joel Schumacher hired Haim to play the younger brother to a brooding vampire in The Lost Boys, in which the stylistic cues came from MTV rather than Hammer Horror. Many of the cast members (Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland) went on to greater success, but for Haim this was as good as it got. The goofiness that made him so appealing here – his bathtub rendition of Ain't Got No Home was a dotty highlight – would come to define him, and to inhibit any progress as an actor. In 2007, Feldman reflected explicitly on his friend's apparent unwillingness to stray far from his own persona. "I would love to see Corey find the greatest stretch, the hardest character, the most removed element from him ... I would be a huge fan of that work. I would just love to see anything that didn't represent him as Corey Haim, because I've seen enough of that."
Haim got by for a few years after The Lost Boys in a succession of undistinguished comedies, reuniting with Feldman in License to Drive (1988) and Dream a Little Dream (1989). He branched out into futuristic roller-blade science fiction in Prayer of the Rollerboys (1991). But his star was in decline, and an addiction to drugs preceded spells in rehab, as well as a dramatic weight gain that saw the diminutive performer hit nearly 300lb. His mother persuaded him to move away from the temptations of Hollywood and back with her to Toronto. In 2004, he was recalled in a popular single by the Thrills, Whatever Happened to Corey Haim? Despite its title, the song had little to do with Haim, though it did at least put that question onto people's lips. (The actor's response was: "I'm clean, sober, humble and happy.")
The moderate revival of interest which the song provoked may in some small way have helped to get Haim and Feldman's reality TV show, 'The Two Coreys', off the ground. That series, which began in 2007, revolved around Haim moving in with Feldman and his wife. Despite carrying the whiff of an extended publicity stunt, the show supplied the occasional instance of car-crash television, such as Haim coming to blows with Feldman after insulting his wife, or breaking down in tears upon discovering that his services were not required for a 'Lost Boys' sequel.
At the time of his death, Haim had three films ready for release, including the thriller American Sunset. It was no secret that he hoped to recapture his 1980s success. "I want to be the guy they talk about when they talk about comebacks," he said three years ago. "I want people to learn from me, see I'm human, and understand that I make mistakes just like they do, but it doesn't have to consume you. You've got to walk through the raindrops, and that's totally what I am trying to do."
• Corey Haim, actor, born 23 December 1971; died 10 March 2010
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