May 27, 2014

Wil Horneff, Gay-Subtext Teen Idol of the 1990s

Born in 1979, Wil Horneff first drew teen idol attention with The Sandlot (1993), one of the misfit-kids-play-sports movies popular during the decade.

Next came Ghost in the Machine (1993), about a comatose serial killer who takes over the electrical grid to terrorize a single mother (Karen Allen) and her son Josh (Wil).  Although Karen Allen and her love interest Chris Mulkey were ostensibly the stars, the director played to the teen audience by giving Josh many shirtless and underwear scenes, as well as a gay subtext buddy-bond with the standard Black best friend Frazer (Brandon Quinton Adams).

The Yearling (1994) was a boy-and-dog tearjerker, with a deer standing in for the dog.

The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) was based on the novel with a gay theme: Willie Marsden and his friend Ned walk off "hand in hand" to fight in the Civil War.  When Ned is killed, Willie is devastated: he "walked around numb for weeks."  He grows up, goes through his life numb with grief, and at age 50 marries Lucy, the narrator.

I never saw the movie, so I don't know if they kept the gay theme.  Wil plays Willie Marden, and Garrette Ratliff Henson plays Ned.

In the 1997 remake of The Shining, Wil plays the teenage Tony, appearing as a kind of future ghost to keep his younger self safe.

None of his teenage film roles called for him to display significant heterosexual interest.

In 1998, Wil graduated from high school and took a hiatus from acting to attend college and travel (he spent a year in Russia).

In 2005 he returned in The Roost, about four friends (Will, his sister Vanessa, Karl Jacob, Sean Reid) trapped in a farmhouse by zombies.  Still no heterosexual interest.

In the upcoming Longest Swim (2014), two friends are staying in an isolated cabin, when Ben (Stephen Ohl) goes into diabetic shock, so Matt (Wil) has to swim across the lake to get help.  There are no boats on that lake?  Sounds like a lot of buddy-bonding going on, but to keep audiences from getting the "wrong" idea, there are also flashback scenes of Matt in bed with his wife.

In addition to acting, Wil is a long-time participant in the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  Today he teaches adult and children's classes at the Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA in Westwood NJ.

He's been married to a woman since 2008, so probably heterosexual.  No word on whether he's gay-positive or not.

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