Corey Feldman: Older, wiser, $1 million poorer

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The name Corey Feldman is, by now, iconic. Feldman was a star by the age of 13, working with top Hollywood directors such as Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner in films such as “Goonies” and “Stand By Me.” But Feldman’s personal life was, to say the least, unstable. He had earned a healthy sum from his films by age 15, but his parents squandered it. So he sued them. At 15, Feldman was legally emancipated and responsible for his own financial future.

That Feldman’s life took some downward spirals after this, therefore, is not surprising. Feldman’s life became fodder for tut-tutting “where are they now” tabloid fare. He battled drugs. His career choices became suspect, and with that his options dwindled. Also a musician, he has released several albums on independent labels to little fanfare. He still acts, but often in B-list productions. Half the time, he plays himself.

Speaking to Feldman, however, now 30 years old, one gets the sense of a man who has made peace with his lot in life. Newly engaged, Feldman recently filmed an episode of Fox’s “Greg The Bunny,” which unfortunately was canceled before his episode aired, and a movie called “Bikini Bandits.” But his main priority is his recent CD, the aptly titled “Former Child Actor.” To add to the pop cultural nostalgia trip, he co-wrote the title song with Rick Springfield.

In the midst of a tour to promote his CD, Feldman spoke to Bankrate about his most unusual financial life.

Bankrate: Financially, did you save enough from your early successes to keep you well-cushioned?

Corey Feldman:It’s an ongoing process. When I was young, my parents severely abused the financial responsibility that was given to them. They devoured all that was mine. So when I was 15 years old, I became legally emancipated. I fought them in court for the right to control my own finances.

Bankrate: Were there finances to be responsible for at that age?

Corey Feldman: I had three pictures in the works. Things were looking great. That was part of the reason I got the whole thing pushed through the courts. Part of the process is showing financial stability, which I had. I had earned a million dollars by the time I was 13 or 14. But when I went to my bank accounts to see what my parents had put away for my future, there was $40,000 left. My father was my manager, so he controlled my money. When I went to sign the emancipation papers, all three parties had to sign. My mother agreed, but my father said he wouldn’t unless I compensated him for the time invested in my career. He asked for my last $40,000. So I had to pay him off and, in essence, start fresh.

Bankrate: He was legally allowed to do that?

Corey Feldman:Yeah. You can’t force somebody to sign — he can’t go to jail for not doing it. The judge decided it was in my best interests, but he can’t be forced.

Bankrate: Were you able to repair your relationship with your folks?

Corey Feldman: I made many attempts to repair my relationship with my father, but it didn’t go too well. He was around when my career was going well, and when I was on the downside he would disappear. He was always there when the press was around, or to make himself look good. I went to an L.A. nightclub at one point for a live Howard Stern broadcast. My father, who I hadn’t spoken to in a year-in-a-half, went on stage and told everyone how much he loved me and how great a father he was, and how he never abused me. It wasn’t true, and he really made himself look stupid. The whole thing was a disgrace.

Bankrate: Of all the things you’ve done, what earned you the most money?

Corey Feldman: I guess the music career because it brings money in regularly over a period of time due to soundtracks and things like that. That’s steady. With film, you make your money and then it’s over with. With music it’s different because you write stuff and put it out there, and the residuals keep coming in. It can be that way sometimes with film and TV, too, but it weans down every time. The music residuals are steady until they stop playing it.

Bankrate: So since you earned a million from movies by the age of 13, does this mean you’ve earned a million from music?

Corey Feldman: No. On a steady basis, from the time I’ve started publishing music until now, there’s been a steadier flow. I definitely earned more from my movie career, but how much I kept — that’s another story.

Bankrate: Do you play the market?

Corey Feldman: No. I stay away. I invested some money many years ago in that. I had something I was told was a pretty good tip. I only invested about $10,000, but I watched it take a dive within days. It was a bad experience, and I said, I’m going to wait until I experience that again.

Bankrate: So how are you preparing for your financial future?

Corey Feldman: I think I’m different from most people, and I know this is going to sound strange, but I don’t allow money to be my guiding light. Obviously it’s important to all of us, it’s important to our existence, but at the same time if you make it too important it becomes your purpose, and you lose any trace of spirituality or humanity. I think that you keep yourself grounded and do the things you can and do what makes you happy. That’s what’s most important. I’m sure I could make decisions that would bring me a lot more capital, but those decisions would not please my soul. I would not be a happy person.

Bankrate: Do you have retirement savings?

Corey Feldman: Along with the Producers’ Pension, Health and Welfare Fund, there is a retirement fund you get when you’re 65 — or get it early when you’re 55 — through the Screen Actors Guild. They take a piece of everything I earn and put it in that fund.

Bankrate: So you haven’t set up your own IRA or mutual funds or anything like that?

Corey Feldman: Unfortunately, my financial life has been very tumultuous. I’ve made great amounts of money in my lifetime, but I’ve made many mistakes. I took part in it, and my parents obviously did what they did, and the next five years was spent trying to build up the stockpile again. I ran into my problems, and due to those problems I lost it all. I went very far into debt, and then several years after that it became trying to catch up on debts. When you’re living behind the ball, so to speak, it makes it much harder to get out on top.

Bankrate: Are you still in debt, or are you out of debt?

Corey Feldman: It looks a lot better, let’s put it that way.