One of the hottest teen idols of the mid- to late ’90s, talented dramatic actor Brad Renfro has also garnered adult fans for building an impressive filmography that includes performances opposite some of Hollywood’s most respected actors. A native of Knoxville, TN, Renfro was raised by his grandmother following his parents’ divorce. He broke into movies at age ten, when he impressed an audience member during a D.A.R.E. (a national anti-drug organization promoted by local police departments) skit (he was playing a drug dealer). This unknown person recommended Renfro to a talent scout who was holding a national open casting call for a young man to play a traumatized boy who finds himself in the midst of a deadly homicide case in Joel Schumacher’s The Client (1994).
Renfro, who had no training and no real acting experience, won the part and found himself working opposite such heavy hitters as Tommy Lee Jones, Susan Sarandon, Ossie Davis, and Mary-Louise Parker. Though such stellar company may have been daunting to others, Renfro held his own and earned positive reviews for his performance. He next played a new kid in town who befriends and decides to find a cure for an AIDS-afflicted boy (veteran child actor Joseph Mazzello) in Peter Horton’s heart-tugging The Cure (1995). In 1996, Renfro played Huck Finn to Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ Tom Sawyer in Disney’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and then essayed an abused boy (Brad Pitt played him as a vengeful adult) in Sleepers (1996). Since then, his career has continued to expand. In 1998, he starred opposite Ian McKellen as a high school student morbidly fascinated by Nazi atrocities who finds himself drawn to an elderly, sinister war criminal in Bryan Singer’s sophomore film Apt Pupil.
Brad won the “Hollywood Reporter’s Young Star Award” in 1995.