Alex Winter, the star of ‘80s hit Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure opposite Keanu Reeves, has admitted that he was sexually abused as a child star in the 1970s, and says he didn’t talk about it because he thought it was a “potentially dangerous secret.”
Speaking to Adrian Chiles on BBC 5 Live, Winter said that the impact on him a young boy was “hellish” and that he suffered from a “massive form of something, which turned out to be post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“That was evident to me while I was still in my teens,” he said. “And so I began to do work on it. But it really took time, and it really wasn’t in my case, I would say, ’til well into my 30s, that I was really able to do heavy lifting on this stuff.”
Winter didn’t go public at the time, he says, because “there is a power dynamic that does put you in a position where you’re afraid for your own safety. So there’s that, on top of the taboo nature of being public.”
Winter explained that the “lightbulb” moment in terms of talking about what had happened came over the last year, since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, saying he never thought he’d ever discuss it with the media.
“I figured I would die with it within the circles of people that understood it, which I thought was wrong, it was wrong,” he said.
Although Winter said the recent changes in Hollywood culture has meant that, were the abuse to happen to him now, he would be able to talk about it, he claimed there was a long way still to go.
“The problems aren’t going to get sorted out overnight, because frankly, these issues are part of the fabric of human nature, and they’ve existed since there have been human beings walking around on the planet,” he said.
“So it’s going to take time, it’s going to take mental health work, it’s going to take the capacity of society to listen to some very unpleasant truths about itself. And there’s no doubt that that’s going to take time.”
As for his most famous film, Winter said, while he was in a “dark place around that time,” making Bill & Ted was “therapeutic” for him.
“The films were really, really seminal for me, personally, in that way. They were really therapeutic for me in a way, and they gave me kind of a grounding that I moved off from with them. The world of Bill & Ted is a very sweet and fun place to run around in.”