I've been waiting for the right time to write about my childhood love for Jonathan Brandis, the late child actor-turned-teen idol who passed away in 2003. This week marks Brandis's birthday, so what better time to celebrate his life and career?
Though he'd popped up here and there in film and television -- notable appearances include episodes of "Good Morning, Miss Bliss," "Full House," and "L.A. Law," defeating the evil Terry O'Quinn in Stepfather II, and his turn as the young Stuttering Bill in Stephen King's It -- my first memorable Jonathan Brandis moment was probably his starring debut in the 1991 child fantasy sequel The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. As Bastian Bux, the new protagonist of the story, Brandis made an impression... the movie, not so much.
But Brandis's 1992 was a different story. This was the year that I really obsessed over the 16-year-old actor with the blonde hair and the vulnerable face. The year he broke out on his own as a viable teen actor who could hold his own against veteran co-stars and inspired a devoted fan following with the one-two punch of a soccer movie, and, within the span of a year, a karate movie, that still hold respective places in my young movie going memories. This was the era of Ladybugs.