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Brad Renfro (25 July 1982 – 15 January 2008) was an American actor known for playing the role of Leon S. Kennedy in the live-action BIOHAZARD 2 commercial directed by George A. Romero. Not long after the game's release, Brad was arrested for drug possession in June 1998.[1]

Biography[]

Early life and career[]

Renfro grew up in a fractured household following his parents' divorce in 1987, and he was left under the care of his grandmother. He first got the attention of Hollywood at the age of 10, and debuted in Joel Schumacher's 1994 thriller, The Client. Following his appearance in the 1996 crime drama, Sleepers, Renfro built up a fan following in both the United States and Japan. Though still a child, Renfro became involved in drugs, something his family were unable to prevent and which his agent made efforts to keep quiet.

Resident Evil 2[]

In mid-1997, Capcom made preparations for its Resident Evil 2 marketing campaign. Having recently finished the psychological thriller Apt Pupil, Renfro was available and willing to play the role of "Leon" in an ad directed by George A. Romero. Owing to his popularity in Japan, Capcom's producers believed his popularity with young women could help sell the game to a wider demographic.[2][3] Renfro's involvement was met by a number of conditions. Firstly, the ad was not allowed to play in the United States, and the making-of documentary being filmed around the ad could also not be sold.[4] This may have been to protect Renfro from negative publicity, as websites naming him as the actor were met by cease-and-desist notices.[4]

The shooting took place from 30 September - 3 October at the Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles. Renfro, his family and agent were accommodated at the Four Seasons Hotel during the shoot. As he was still a minor, he was not legally allowed to do a semi-continuous shoot.[5] On 3 October Renfro accepted short interviews at the hotel from Japanese reporters, who had been flown in on request of Capcom to promote the game, which concluded with him receiving promotional BIO HAZARD merchandise.[6]

Later career and death[]

By 1998, Renfro's situation had become increasingly chaotic, with his rising stardom conflicting with his increasing drug use. Though he would win the Best Actor award at the Tokyo International Film Festival for his role in Apt Pupil, he was already facing charges of possession following an undercover drug sting. Renfro's drug use became a regular problem in his later films, with an arrest for attempted theft of a yacht while under the influence interfering with production of the 2001 crime drama, Bully. Renfro went through a number of drug rehab programs while also fathering a son with a Japanese girlfriend. Renfro made further efforts to beat his addiction, but fell into a relapse in January 2008, where he died from a Heroin overdose.

Bibliography[]

Saitō, Ayumi, ed (1998) (in Japanese). RESEARCH ON BIOHAZARD 2 final edition. Micro Design. ISBN 4-944000-77-4. 

Sources[]

  1. Saitō, Ayumi, (ed.), Research, p.189.
  2. Saitō, Research on BIOHAZARD 2, p.150.
  3. Day 3, September 29, 1997, Costume Fit. The Zombie Farm. Retrieved on 2022-01-12.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Zombie Farm. The Zombie Farm. Retrieved on 2022-01-12.
  5. Day 4, September 30, 1997, Shooting: Day One. The Zombie Farm. Retrieved on 2022-01-12.
  6. Day 7, October 3, 1997, Shooting: Interview Day. The Zombie Farm. Retrieved on 2022-01-12.
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