In America, the child star on the skids has become a cultural cliche. But before the days of Lindsay Lohan, Shannon Doherty and Britney Spears came the pioneers of this particular genre of the true Hollywood story: Corey Feldman and Corey Haim.
In the 1980s, "the two Coreys," as they were known, were the titans of teen cinema, starring in hit films like "Lost Boys," "License to Drive" and "Dream a Little Dream," before seeing it all evaporate after very public struggles with drugs, alcohol and the law.
"We were kind of really at the tip of the iceberg," said Feldman. "You didn't really see kid stars getting busted at that point. It all kind of started snowballing after that. … We were the predecessors."
They were two of the first child actors to take fans through that now-familiar — but still seemingly irritable — saga of kids whose sweet-face, on-screen personas are contradicted by their ugly off-screen entanglements with fame, money and drugs.
Haim on Lindsay Lohan: 'I Feel Bad for Her'
Corey Haim, for example, went from the loveable little brother in "Lost Boys" to a crack and Valium addict who made a reported 15 trips to rehab and then bloated up to more than 300 pounds.
Haim says he empathizes with Lindsay Lohan, who after a recent arrest for alleged cocaine possession and driving under the influence, has reportedly headed back to rehab for a third time.
"Yeah, I just feel bad for her. It is watching a person who is doing movies, singing, very talented, very pretty, doing what I did, and it is just, she doesn't realize that she's getting sick. She doesn't realize that she's sick. … For me, rock bottom was I couldn't even look in the mirror anymore," Haim said.
He continued, "I felt guilty about myself and everybody and what I was doing, this and that, I just did something about it on my own, but she's young enough to catch it. I see, just a version of me that is female and younger and I just hope that she catches it now, you know?"
Feldman: Scrutiny Doesn't Help
Corey Feldman played the wiseacre in such '80s chestnuts as "The Goonies."
He was later arrested for alleged heroin and cocaine possession. Even though his friend and co-star River Phoenix fatally overdosed on drugs, Feldman says he thinks child actors are at no greater risk for drug abuse than kids who are not famous.
"I know plenty of people that are young, wealthy and famous that have never touched a drug," Feldman said.
However Feldman says that it's much harder to get better while under the klieg light.
"When somebody like Lindsay Lohan is going through something like this, it is hard enough to realize that you messed up and you have to wake up and wipe the dust off, and go on with your day, but imagine every time you turn around somebody is making fun of you, or laughing at you, or kicking dirt in your face, and that's wrong, that's wrong. It doesn't help anybody," he said.
But should we really feel bad for the young, famous and wayward? Isn't scrutiny a small price?
"I was overridden with guilt," said Feldman. "That made it the hardest part of the whole thing. For me, it wasn't about how hard it was to fight the disease, it wasn't about letting down my family, and it was about letting down my fans. The day that I got arrested and I had to wake up and see it all over the news."
Feldman explained, "I was just heartbroken, because here I was an advocate for 'Just Say No!' and for all sorts of things that were positive and beneficial for children and I thought, 'Man, look what I've done. I've destroyed them.' … And that's really unhealthy. "
"I feel like with myself I ruined myself to the point where I wasn't functional enough to work for anybody, even myself. I wasn't working," said Haim. "You know, if I'm not working, how anybody else can expect me to work for them if I'm not working. I mean physically working. My brain wasn't working."
A&E Presents 'The Two Coreys'
Both Haim and Feldman are now back at work in a new A&E show called "The Two Coreys," which is a mixture of improv comedy and reality TV — such as the moment when Haim cries as Feldman tells him that he will not be offered a part in the sequel to "Lost Boys."
On-screen drama notwithstanding, Feldman and Haim seem to be enjoying working together again.
As they promote their show with the media, however, they find themselves constantly bombarded with questions about Lohan's travails.
"For me it was almost 18 years ago, so 17 years ago, and yet, Lindsay Lohan has a problem and yet my name is brought up in every single newspaper throughout the country connected with it. And it's like come on guys, isn't that old news?" Feldman said.
But they are willing to talk about it because, hey, it gets attention for their show, increasing the odds that they can somehow recapture some of their old fame. And fame, after all, may be the toughest drug of them all to kick.