Unfortunately, it sounds like the child actors who made the film didn’t enjoy what happened after its release as much as the rest of us did.
In an oral history celebrating the film’s 20th anniversary, some of the now-adult actors told Rolling Stone that they were subjected to bullying and, at some points, physical abuse from their peers after School of Rock hit movie screens.
Joey Gaydos Jr. — who played Zack “Zack-Attack” Mooneyham — said that going back to school after the film was released was “tough” and that he was treated like a “three-headed freak.”
“I came back with all this culture in my brain to a pretty one-horse town outside of Detroit,” he said. “And I was looked at like a complete weirdo, and that was hard.”
Joey also recalled an “older girl” coming up to him during a football game and “smacking” him in the face “because, ‘Look at that weird guy from the movie.'”
“People thought I had it all going on. I couldn’t believe it.”
Veronica Afflerbach, who played Eleni, also described “brutal” treatment from other “kids” after filming was finished.
“When I came home from doing the movie, I was like, ‘I’m never doing this again,'” she recalled, before noting that she received especially harsh treatment from other kids after her parents were able to invest in a house because of the movie.
“Kids said really horrible things,” she recalled. “‘What else did you do to make that much money? Because it’s not from just a couple lines in a movie. You’re an extra.’ But I wish that I had given myself a chance to see where else [acting] could have taken me.”
Rivkah Reyes, who played Katie in the film, said that after making the film there was “about a decade” where she felt “really, really sick and really, really mentally unwell and using anything I could to feel nothing, basically.”
For Brian Falduto — who played Billy, aka “Fancy Pants” — the act of playing a character with a flamboyant personality resulted in mixed emotions.
“To have this experience where we were all made to feel special because of our differences was really cool,” he recalled. “But then it also made it all the more difficult when we went back to school. People tried to box me into the title of the gay kid after the movie, and I didn’t even know what being gay was at the time. I was just being myself and having a great time.”
Despite these experiences, the cast also says in the oral history that the lasting impact School of Rock had made it all worth it. “It just warms my heart that it’s aged so gracefully and that it still has this powerful message of radical self-acceptance,” Rivkah said.
“School of Rock allowed us to really let our freak flags fly. When you have a whole room full of underdogs, it’s so powerful.”