Too Young To Die: Remembering Brad Renfro

Brad Renfro, a child and then young-adult actor with a deceptively huge talent, died yesterday from as-yet-undetermined causes. Renfro's last big public splash came under perhaps the worst circumstances imaginable: Two days before Christmas 2005, the LAT ran a full-color photo of the unrecognizable former heartthrob in handcuffs, balding, chubby, and clearly in distress after being picked up downtown in an undercover drug sting meanspiritedly dubbed "Cancel Christmas." Renfro's drug use and run-ins with the law were no secret until that point—he was famously charged with Grand Theft 45-Foot Yacht in 2000—but the Skid Row arrest was definitely a turning point, the heartbreaking image inextricably linked with the actor from there on. Determined to turn himself around, he entered a live-in rehab facility in April of 2006, saying at the time that he was "tired of paying the consequences," and that he felt "blessed that I'm going through this now, rather than later. I'm still a kid. I'm 23."

Upon learning of his client's death, Richard Kaplan, Renfro's longtime lawyer and champion, offered, "He was working hard on his sobriety. He was doing well. He was a nice person." Renfro was also working, period, having just wrapped a part in what would become his last movie—The Informers. Based on the Bret Easton Ellis short story collection, the large ensemble film also stars Billy Bob Thornton, Winona Ryder, and Mickey Rourke, and follows, Short Cuts- and Magnolia-style, seven stories set in 1980s Los Angeles over the course of one week. Its one-sheet tagline, over a ceramic sculpture of a melancholy pretty boy's face: "Greed is good. Sex is easy. Youth is forever."