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Life and Death of Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ Video Star Examined in New Feature

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You could barely turn on MTV back in the early ’90s without catching Trevor Wilson’s face gracing your screen at least once. While the name may not initially ring a bell, Wilson was the 12-year-old child star of Pearl Jam‘s award-winning video for “Jeremy.” A new article from Billboard explores the life and death of Wilson, who passed away last year at a relatively young age.

Wilson caught the eye of director Mark Pellington, with Billboard revealing that he was sick as a dog on the day that he auditioned for the role. The director says he told Wilson to “look at the camera and don’t say anything” no matter what happened around him. “I just played the song and you could see something … something changes in the room,” said Pellington of watching the young actor’s desperation begin to show.

Cinematographer Tom Richmond says, “I’d done movies with kids before, but Trevor was just 100 percent there — and focused, and friendly, relaxed and flexible. I have no idea what Mark said to him, but I don’t remember any takes where we said, ‘Uh, not that. Let’s take a break. C’mon kid, get it together!'”

The video thrust Wilson into the spotlight, even appearing with Pearl Jam at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, but the fame was not something he was interested in. Wilson’s mother Diane revealed that he eventually turned his back on the fan mail and acting in general, choosing to live life on his own terms.

Wilson reportedly turned his attention to classic literature and had a drive to work on development projects overseas for the United Nations. Sadly, Wilson’s life came to end last August as he drowned while swimming alone during a vacation in Puerto Rico.

With it being the 25th anniversary of the video’s debut on MTV, Billboard looked back on the shoot with Pellington, Richmond and Wilson’s family members. Read more of their reflections here.

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