Alex Winter, best known for his starring role opposite Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, opened up this week about sexual abuse he experienced as a child star in the 1970s.
While talking to Adiran Chiles on BBC 5 Live (via THR), the actor admitted that he had been abused but chose to keep quiet for years. He didn't want to talk about what had happened because he felt that it was a "potentially dangerous secret." However, the recent cultural shift in Hollywood that has seen numerous victims of sexual assault and harassment come forward helped Winter arrive at a place where he could admit what happened.
Winter said that what he went through as a young boy was "hellish" and that it caused him to suffer from "a massive form of something, which turned out to be post-traumatic stress disorder."
"This was evident to me while I was still in my teens," Winter explained. "And so I began to do work on it. But it really took time, and it wasn't really in my case, I would say 'til well into my 30s, that I was really able to do heavy lifting on this stuff."
The actor went on to explain that he stayed quiet for so long because "there is a power dynamic that does put you in a position where you're afraid for your own safety. So there's that, on top of the taboo nature of being public."
Fortunately, the recent stories of women and men in Hollywood speaking out against serial abusers gave Winter the courage he needed to say something. Still, despite the fact that victims have more power than ever before, Winter admitted that we still have a long way to go.
"The problems aren't going to go and get sorted out overnight, because frankly, these issues are a part of the fabric of human nature, and they've existed since there have been human beings walking around on the planet," Winter said. "So it's going to take mental health work, it's going to take the capacity of society to listen to some very unpleasant truths about itself. And there's no doubt that that's going to take time."
When Winter landed the starring role in Bill & Ted, he was still in a very "dark place" from the trauma he had experienced in the years before. However, working on the movie was a therapeutic experience.
"The films were really, really seminal for me, personally, in that way," he said. "They were really therapeutic for me in a way, and they gave me kind of a grounding that I moved off from with them. The world of Bill & Ted is a very sweet and fun place to run around in."