Bill & Ted star Alex Winter has revealed he suffered from “extreme PTSD” after experiencing sexual abuse as a child actor.
Winter, who reprises his role as Bill alongside Keanu Reeves in belated sequel Bill & Ted Face the Music, said that he was starring in a Broadway production of The King and I when he was abused by an older actor. Winter has said that the actor is now dead, and that he has never named him.
“I had extreme PTSD for many, many years, and that will wreak havoc on you,” Winter told The Guardian. “It’s a way in which you relate to the world around you and to yourself, and it’s very nuanced, but you can become very fractured. So you slowly compartmentalise. You keep this thing over here, you keep that thing over there, and you don’t have any natural equilibrium. That fracturing just gets worse and worse and worse.”
Winter compared his mental state in his mid-20s to being “held together with duct tape”.
“[That age is] when you see kids overdosing or blowing their heads off,” he added. “In my case, I was just like, I need to stop doing this thing where these eyes are on me all the time and I don’t feel safe or comfortable … I just want to go ride the subway and help raise a family and do my writing and directing.”
Winter also said that he had no recourse when the abuse occurred.
He explained: “If what happened to me then had happened to me now, I would have walked right up to a stage manager or anybody and just said: ‘Hey, you know what? This is happening; what do I do?’ Those words didn’t come out of my mouth until I was in my 40s.”
Along with Bill & Ted Face the Music, Winter has also directed the new documentary Showbiz Kids, in which he and fellow former child stars including ET’s Henry Thomas and Matilda’s Mara Wilson share their experiences of early fame.
In the documentary, Wilson revealed she was regularly sent fan letters by “creepy old men” while still a child.