Actor Wil Wheaton penned an emotional response after his Stand By Me costar Jerry O'Connell posted a sweet birthday message for Wheaton's 51st birthday on Instagram.
The two have kept in touch and remained good friends since they costarred as kids in the iconic 1986 coming-of-age film based on Stephen King's short story The Body.
To celebrate Wheaton's birthday, O'Connell, 49, shared a photo of him planting a kiss on Wheaton's forehead.
He quoted Stand By Me in the caption:
"Never had friends like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"
"Happy BDay," wrote O'Connell and tagged his longtime buddy.
The first line from O'Connell's sentimental message should resonate with fans of Stand By Me as it comes from the closing moments of the film.
Wheaton–who also portrayed Wesley Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation–played the 12-year-old version of the character Gordon "Gordie" Lachance.
Gordon winds up becoming a writer who pens a memoir reflecting on a childhood memory involving three friends with whom he develops a tight bond when they go searching for the body of a missing boy during Labor Day weekend in 1959.
In response to O'Connell quoting from the movie, Wheaton wrote:
I've heard that phrase since we were twelve. Today is the first time it made me cry."
"I'm so grateful we are still in each other's lives."
In a May 2021 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Wheaton opened up about his struggles as a child actor and the emotional trauma he suffered at home–which informed his performance in Stand By Me as he shared the same family issues as his character.
Up until then, Wheaton kept his pain a secret from his Stand By Me costars during filming.
After he candidly discussed his childhood trauma, O'Connell expressed regret for not being aware of Wheaton's struggles during filming for Stand By Me.
On April 14 during his daytime show, The Talk, O'Connell told Wheaton:
"I heard before you talk about some of the struggles you were going through during Stand By Me."
"And while I was 11 at the time, that’s an excuse. I do want to apologize for not being there more for you when you were younger."
"I want to say in the bigger picture, you never know what someone is going through when you’re with them."
"I don’t feel guilt, but I just wanted to say I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you more."
Fans were moved by O'Connell's birthday message for Wheaton and their close bond.
Social media users also wished Wheaton a happy birthday.
Stand By Me was directed by Rob Reiner.
Wheaton and O'Connell co-starred with the late River Phoenix and fellow child star Corey Feldman.
The critically-acclaimed movie adaptation was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.