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Actor Brad Renfro, 25, found dead in his home

January 16, 2008|Richard Winton and Steve Hymon | Times Staff Writers

Brad Renfro, an actor best known for his roles in the movies "The Client" and "Ghost World," was found dead Tuesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said. He was 25.

Renfro's body was found in his Wilshire-area home in the 1000 block of South Ogden Drive by his girlfriend, authorities said. Renfro, who had a history of drug abuse, was declared dead by paramedics at 9 a.m., according to coroner's spokesman Ed Winter. The cause of death had yet to be determined, he said.

"There is no suspicion of foul play," LAPD Lt. David Evans said.

Renfro, a native of Tennessee, began acting in skits for the anti-drug group DARE at his school.

He got his big break when producers of "The Client" -- the adaptation of the John Grisham novel -- conducted a national search to find a fresh face to play the lead role of a boy who is put in peril after he overhears a conversation about a murder.

Renfro appeared opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in that 1994 movie. In 1998, Renfro won the lead role opposite Ian McKellen in "Apt Pupil" and appeared as a convenience store clerk with Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi in 2001's "Ghost World."

Despite the promising start to his acting career, Renfro was known for his legal troubles. In the late 1990s he was arrested for trying to steal a yacht in Florida. In December 2005, he was picked up by the LAPD during an undercover drug sweep of downtown's skid row.

The LAPD had taken a Times reporter and photographer along during the sweep, and a photo showing Renfro being arrested by two officers was featured on the paper's front page.

Renfro told a detective who arrested him that he was using heroin and methadone.

He ultimately went to a drug rehabilitation program and pleaded guilty to attempted possession of heroin. He was sentenced to three years' probation.

Renfro's former attorney, Blair Berk, said Tuesday: "Brad was a really gifted young man. It is a tragedy all the way around."

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richard.winton@latimes.com

steve.hymon@latimes.com

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