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The LAT approached Peter Billingsley—the irrepressible, Red Ryder BB Gun-coveting scamp Ralphie from A Christmas Story—to find out how he managed to bypass the dark paths trod by so many of his young actor peers, and instead carve out for himself a successful career as a movie producer. Yes, in just five easy steps, you too can circumvent an adulthood doomed to crystal meth-fueled dry cleaner hold-ups, and achieve your former child star potential:

2. Be nice to your costars. "I acted in an after-school special which was a cautionary tale about the use of steroids. I was paired opposite a good-looking, skinny Midwestern kid who ended up becoming a good friend..." [...]

5. Help make a successful Hollywood movie starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. "That handsome, skinny Midwestern kid was Vince Vaughn. We became good friends and after a successful collaboration on 'Made' we came together again to produce 'The Break-Up.'

This illustrates nicely how every Hollywood project and relationship, no matter how inauspicious they might seem at the time, can lead to greater things. Had Billingsley not launched into that after-school role special with such abandon—and particularly the locker room scene in which he tearily used every ounce of his own strength to prevent a 'roid-raging Vaughn from injecting a giant syringe full of growth hormone into his own ass—his co-star may never have seen the extent of his potential and proposed their creative partnership.

UPDATE: A reader sets us right on just who held the syringe in that After School Special. It's after the jump.

A reader writes:

It was Billingsley, strangely enough, who played the roid rager in that after school special. I know. It makes no sense. Vaughn was, like, seven feet tall at the time and Ralphie was still Ralphie ... But on roids ... And shouting at a frightened Vaughn. I know ... Crazy. But worth watching just for that scene.