'Soldiers' is Wil Wheaton's next generation

On Movies

April 25, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

WIL Wheaton is very close to his manager. She happens to be his mother.

''A manager should always have his client's best interest at heart, and who is more likely to do that than your mother?,'' Wheaton said. ''I'm extremely proud of her. She could have had a very successful career in real estate, but she gave it all up to spend time with her family and manage me full time.'' Wheaton and his mother, a former actress, were in Washington recently talking about his new movie "Toy Soldiers."

The 18-year-old has a leading role in the terrorist melodrama that opens at area theaters on Friday. He plays one of five classmates who, along with other boys at a prep school, have been taken hostage by South Americans who threaten to kill their prisoners unless their demands are met.

The film has its share of violence, maybe too much, but Wheaton minimizes it. ''You should have seen how much there was in the original script. They actually toned it down. I don't think it's gratuitous.''

Wheaton's face is familiar to some. He played super genius Wesley Crusher for four years on ''Star Trek: The Next Generation.''

He isn't doing the fifth season. ''I did four and am on hiatus now, to advance my film career,'' he said. ''We need time to see other people.''

Crusher was a satellite character, who, according to Wheaton, did little more than say ''yes sir'' and ''no, sir.''

''They did star me in one episode,'' he said. ''If I had had more like that, I wouldn't have asked to be let go, but then I wouldn't have gotten this film. I didn't want my career to begin and end with "Star Trek,'" he said. ''I don't want to go to conventions 10 years from now, wearing a 'Star Trek' costume.''

In "Toy Soldier," Wheaton plays the son of a mobster. He prepared for the role by creating an autobiography for the character. ''I also rented all the 'Godfather' movies,'' he said.

The wardrobe in the movie has raised a few questions. For a good part of the time, some of the lead players wear jockey shorts and nothing more. When asked whether there was a commercial reason for the choice of clothing, Wheaton laughed. ''People have really picked up on that,'' he said. ''I really gave it no thought, but the dress was appropriate. To be fully clothed at that time of the year is unrealistic. Each actor decided how he wanted to dress. I guess some people will perceive the message to be, don't mess with five guys in underwear.''

Wheaton was tutored through high school. He isn't sure he will go on to college. ''I hope to go to film school, but I don't think I will do what Jodie Foster did, say goodbye for five years. But who knows? I think I've gotten past the difficult age for actors, 15 to 17, and while I am aware that there aren't many roles for someone 18 to 20, I hope I can find some. If I can't, maybe I'll go back to school.''

He's done another film that will be released in the coming months. It's titled ''December'' and takes place on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. ''We play a group of young guys who are service age and wonder how we will respond to the national emergency,'' he said. ''I also want to take this chance to correct any misconception that the film is about five guys who run around in their underwear.''

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