Kiefer Sutherland Responds to 'Stand By Me' Bullying Claims

Sutherland denied rumors that he bullied his co-stars on the set of the 1986 film to "stay in character."

Kiefer Sutherland denied recent rumors that he bullied his co-stars on Stand By Me as a form of method acting. A recent viral post on social media claims that Sutherland was cruel to his colleagues in order to "stay in character," and he was asked about the story on Thursday's episode of The Talk. Sutherland said that this was "absolutely not true."

"First of all, I'm not that kind of actor and I wouldn't want to be that kind of person," Sutherland said. "I spent a lot of time with River Phoenix because we both played guitar, and so that was kind of an in to him. Even though I was seven years older, we were both beginning, right? And so there was a lot of discussion about 'How do you develop a character?', 'What is your process?'"

Stand By Me centers around four young boys played by Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell – who was present for Thursday's interview as he is now a co-host of The Talk. Sutherland played an older bully who taunts the foursome during their adventure, and accordingly, he was older than the main characters. Speaking to O'Connell, he said: "Actually, it's very funny that at the age of 17, which I was in Stand By Me, I had probably a more in-depth process than I even do now. But we didn't get to work together."

O'Connell admitted that he had thought of Sutherland as an adult at the time. He joked: "I felt like you were like 40...I just thought you were the most grown-up person... Now, I will say that Kiefer did not bully us, there was no bullying. But Kiefer, I was so scared of you."

Sutherland added that he was disappointed that he didn't work with the other cast members more on that project. He said: "I think one of things that's been frustrating for me when I think about Stand By Me is they always ask me what everybody else was like... We really only had the one big scene at the end where Wil Wheaton pulls the gun and I had to run away like a girl."

Stand By Me was adapted from Stephen King's 1982 novella The Body. It received critical acclaim and award nominations at the time of its release, and it has stood the test of time as a generational classic. The screenplay was written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon, and it was directed by Rob Reiner. Stand By Me is streaming now on Hulu.