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Brad Barron Renfro (July 25, 1982 – January 15, 2008) was an American actor. He made his film debut in 1994 in the lead role of The Client. He acted in 21 films, several short films, and one television episode during his career. Much of his later career was marred by a pattern of substance abuse. He died January 15, 2008 from an overdose of heroin.

Early life and career

Brad Renfro was born in Knoxville, Tennesseemarker, the son of Angela and Mark Renfro, who was a factory worker. He was raised from the age of five by his paternal grandmother, Joanne Barron Renfro, a church secretary.

Renfro was discovered by Mali Finn, a casting director for Joel Schumacher, when he was 10. His only previous acting experience had been as a dealer in an anti-drugs workshop school production. Cast by Finn for Schumacher's The Client, Renfro acted alongside Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. Based on the bestselling John Grisham novel, it became one of the top-grossing films of 1994. In 1995, he won Hollywood Reporter's "Young Star" award, and was nominated as one of People's "Top 30 Under 30." That year, he played Huckleberry "Huck" Finn in 1995's Tom and Huck with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He also won a second "Young Star" award, as well as the "Young Artist" award, for his performance in The Cure.

In 1996, he was cast in Sleepers, based on the novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra. The film was directed by Barry Levinson and also starred Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Dustin Hoffman and Brad Pitt.

In 1998, he starred opposite Ian McKellen in Apt Pupil, directed by Bryan Singer. That same year, he played Leon S. Kennedy in a live-action preview of Resident Evil 2. Renfro went on to act in other films, including 2001's Ghost World and Bully, 2002's Confessions of an American Girl (in which he played a gay teenager), and 2005's The Jacket. He also appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and completed filming on the film The Informers, co-starring Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton.

Renfro was the cousin of Jesse Hasek, lead singer of the band 10 Years, and was featured in the first version of their video for the song "Wasteland". He fathered a son named Yamato Renfro, born in 2003. The boy lives in Japan with his mother.

Arrest and rehabilitation

In December 2005, he was arrested by LAPD officers during an undercover drug sweep of downtown's skid row and was charged with attempted possession of heroin. A photograph showing him in handcuffs made the front page of the Los Angeles Times. Renfro admitted to a detective that he was using heroin and methadone. In court, he pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced to three years' probation. In 2006, he spent 10 days in jail for convictions of driving while under the influence and attempted heroin possession.


Renfro was found dead, at the age of 25, on January 15, 2008 in his Los Angelesmarker apartment.On February 8, 2008, the Los Angeles County Coronermarker's office ruled that Renfro's death was accidental, attributing it to acute heroin/morphine intoxication. His body was returned to East Tennessee, where he was buried on January 22, 2008 north of Knoxvillemarker, at Red House Cemetery in the small community of Blainemarker. He was not included in the annual Academy Awards tribute to Hollywood figures who died in the past year.

Less than two weeks later, his grandmother Joanne – who had raised him and accompanied him regularly during his early acting career – died at her home at the age of 76. Local officials stated that she died of natural causes.


Year Film Role Notes
1994 The Client Mark Sway
1995 Tom and Huck Huckleberry Finn
The Cure Erik
1996 Sleepers Young Michael Sullivan
1997 Telling Lies in America Karchy Jonas
1998 Apt Pupil Todd Bowden
1999 2 Little, 2 Late Jimmy Walsh
2000 Skipped Parts Dothan Talbot
2001 The Theory of the Leisure Class Billy
Happy Campers Wichita
Bully Marty Puccio
Tart William Sellers
Ghost World Josh
2002 American Girl Jay Grubb
Deuces Wild Bobby
2003 The Job Troy Riverside
2004 Hollywood Flies Jamie
Mummy an' the Armadillo Wyatte
2005 The Jacket The Stranger
2006 10th and Wolf Vincent
2009 The Informers Jack
Occasion Year Award Movie Movie year Honour
Sedona International Film Festival 2004 Director's Choice Award for Most Spirited Rising Performer Won
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films 1999 Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor Apt Pupil 1998 Nominated
Tokyo International Film Festival 1998 Best Actor Award Apt Pupil 1998 Won
Young Artist Award 1996 Young Artist Award for Best Young Leading Actor in a Feature Film The Cure 1995 Won — Shared with Joseph Mazzello
Young Artist Award 1995 Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor Starring in a Motion Picture The Client 1994 Won
YoungStar Awards 1997 Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Drama Film Sleepers 1996 Nominated
YoungStar Awards 1996 Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Comedy Film Tom and Huck 1995 Nominated
YoungStar Awards 1995 Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Drama Film The Cure 1995 Won


  1. Brad Renfro Biography. Yahoo! Movies.
  2. Brad Renfro Film
  4. "Obituaries - Brad Barron Renfro," Knoxville News Sentinel, January 20, 2008, webpage: Obit-BBRenfro.
  5. Winton, Richard. Renfro autopsy planned for Thursday. LA Times. January 17, 2008.
  6. Actor Brad Renfro found dead in Los Angeles home January 15, 2008.
  8. Brad Renfro's grandmother, 76, dies : Local News : Knoxville News Sentinel
  9. | Knoxville, TN | Brad Renfro's grandmother dies

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