He may be famous for giving wedgies and screaming “butthead,” but Jason Hervey managed to successfully navigate the scary pitfalls of child stardom. As Kevin Arnold’s bullish older brother Wayne on Emmy-winning ‘60s-set dramedy The Wonder Years from 1988 to 1993, Hervey spent most of his teenage years in the limelight. Hervey, who currently serves as executive produce of WGN America’s new show Outlaw Country, told HuffPost Live he thanks his parents for keeping him on the right path — and clear of drugs, partying and other dangerous teen star habits.
“There’s definitely people I hung out with where you could easily look back and say it’s a cautionary tale,” said Hervey — citing former child stars Corey Feldman and the late Corey Haim.
“There is one reason, and one reason only why I, thank God, didn’t go down a crazy path,” the father of two shared. “It’s because of my parents. It’s because of my mom and dad. I have an amazing mom, and a great father, and an incredible family support system.”
Hervey, whose mother Marsha Hervey is a longtime talent agent, said her relationship with the parents of the show’s other child stars (including Fred Savage and Danica McKellar) is something that aided their smooth transition out of child stardom, and continues today.
“All the other [The Wonder Years’] kids — our parents are still friends, to this day,” said Hervey. “They just wouldn’t allow it. There’s no better way to describe it, at least with my parents, that path, whatever that path was or we know it to be, that was not an option for me.”
Hervey, who co-founded production company Bischoff Hervey Entertainment Television, said his parents encouraged him to be professional on set, but still make time for regular-kid activities.
“We also still would maintain the levity of being kids in a work environment,” said Hervey. “…Taking it seriously but also still making time to play hockey, and to study and to have friends — all that stuff that’s really important.”
Hervey did feel his young fame in other ways, however: he was once attacked at a bar over his rough-housing character, taking a broken bottle to his face that led to 11 stitches and a permanent scar.
“One, they [the attacker] had a little too much to drink, that’s first and foremost,” he said, “and secondly, because this guy who attacked me had a big brother that was just like the character, and he told me how much he hates his brother, and how much he hates me.”
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