Pearl Jam's 'Jeremy' Video Is 25. It's Star Would've Been 37

Inside the life and death of the boy who was 'Jeremy'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2017 7:04 PM CDT

This August marks the 25th anniversary of the music video for "Jeremy," which dominated MTV and rocketed Pearl Jam into superstardom. It also marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of Trevor Wilson—better known as the video's title character. To mark the occasion, Billboard spoke to the creative team behind the "Jeremy" video, as well as Wilson's family and friends, to paint a picture of the fascinating man behind the fictional Jeremy. "He didn’t play it like, 'Oh, I’m all angsty,'" director Mark Pellington recalls of the then-12-year-old Wilson, whose character kills himself in front of his class. "He was kind of dazed and numb and f--ked up." Wilson beat out nearly 200 other kids for the role. "He was like an old pro," cinematographer Tom Richmond says. "It was almost weird."

The video was a smash when it debuted in 1992, and Wilson and his family moved from New York to Los Angeles so he could pursue acting. Wilson was recognized on the street, propositioned by women, and flooded with fan mail. He quickly realized it wasn't for him. "He ... decided he wanted to just be a kid," his mother says. "He didn't want to act." Instead, Wilson moved back to New York to read, write, and run around with New York "party kids" like the Hilton sisters. It was the start of what would be a restless life. He lived for years in Italy and took a UN internship in Egypt. He worked in IT and pondered a side gig home-brewing mead. He started novels and scripts. When Wilson drowned last August during a vacation in Puerto Rico, he as angling for a UN post in Myanmar. For more on Wilson and "Jeremy," read the full Billboard piece here. (Read more Longform stories.)

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