January 16, 2008 in Nation/World

Actor Brad Renfro, 25, found dead in L.A. home

Jacob Adelman Associated Press
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Actor Brad Renfro, whose career began promisingly with a childhood role in “The Client” but rapidly faded as he struggled with drugs and alcohol, was found dead Tuesday in his home. He was 25.

Authorities said Renfro’s body was discovered by his girlfriend in his Wilshire area home. He was declared dead by paramedics at 9 a.m., said coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter.

Winter said the cause of death had yet to be determined.

“There is no suspicion of foul play,” LAPD Lt. David Evans said. Officials would not comment on whether drugs or drug paraphernalia were found in the home.

Renfro had reportedly been drinking with friends the evening before his death, said Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

Renfro recently completed a role in “The Informers,” a film adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel that stars Winona Ryder, Brandon Routh and Billy Bob Thornton.

Renfro, a child actor from Tennessee, caught his first big break when he was cast opposite Susan Sarandon in “The Client,” the 1994 adaptation of the John Grisham novel. Renfro played a boy who is put in peril after he overhears a conversation about a murder.

The movie propelled him to a succession of other roles. In 1998, Renfro won the lead role opposite Ian McKellen in “Apt Pupil,” an adaptation of a Stephen King novella about a boy who suspects that his neighbor is a Nazi criminal. He also appeared with Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi in 2001’s “Ghost World.”

Despite the promising start to his acting career, Renfro was perhaps best known for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when, just days before Christmas 2005, he was picked up by the LAPD during an undercover drug sweep of downtown’s Skid Row.

Unfortunately for Renfro, the LAPD – in an attempt to show what they were doing to improve Skid Row – had taken along a Los Angeles Times photographer and reporter that day. As a result, a photo showing Renfro being arrested by two police officers was featured prominently on the front page of the paper.

Renfro told a detective arresting him that he was using heroin and methadone.

He ultimately went to a drug rehabilitation program and pleaded guilty to attempted possession of heroin. He was sentenced to three years probation.

For several years he was better known for that drug bust and the resulting criminal case than for acting.

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