The transition from aspiring performer to blockbuster star is rarely a smooth one. To paraphrase J.R.R. Tolkein, “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing whether you’ll wind up on ‘Still the Beaver,’ dressed like a viking and pummeling Ollie with retractable boxing gloves while shouting ‘Gladiator! Gladiator!'”
Let’s backtrack. In 1983, audiences were delighted by a “Leave It to Beaver” reunion special, leading the people in charge to greenlight a full-blown Disney Channel revival beginning the following year. Wholesome hijinks ensued.
In the 1985 episode “The Gladiators,” young Oliver (John Snee) found himself in an absolute ethical barrel of molasses. A gang of prepubescent young bucks with a stalwart enthusiasm for Viking cosplay had caught his young eye, but the group’s no-girls policy and penchant for beating one another with polystyrene fists on sticks threw a wrench in the gears of his milquetoast suburban upbringing. Among the ruffians was Stephen Dorff, playing the rough-and-tumble Tony, whose skepticism regarding Ollie’s perceived worth as a potential new member of the group served as a real stumbling block. Check out that razor-sharp glare on that kid. He was born to be a star.