‘School Of Rock’ child stars say they were bullied after film’s release

The child stars from School Of Rock have revealed they were bullied following the film’s success.

Directed by Richard Linklater, the comedy film starred Jack Black as struggling guitarist Dewey Finn who pretends to be substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After it was released in 2003, the film grossed over $130million worldwide on a $35million budget.

The film’s young cast, who were high-schoolers and middle-schoolers at the time, explained that they were bullied at school following the film’s release in an interview with Rolling Stone.


Joey Gaydos Jr., who played Zack Mooneyham, said he was looked at like “a three-headed freak” when he returned to his hometown in Detroit.

“I was looked at like a complete weirdo, and that was hard,” Gaydos Jr. said. “I remember going to a football game in high school, and some older girl coming up and smacking me 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.”

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Veronica Afflerbach, who played “groupie” Eleni, vowed to “never do this again” after kids at her school were “brutal” towards her.

“My parents wanted to make an investment, so they bought me a house,” Afflerbach said. “And kids said really horrible things. ‘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 bassist Katie, said she was “really sick” for “about a decade” following the film’s release.


“There was, I would say, about a decade of me being really, really sick and really, really mentally unwell and using anything I could to feel nothing, basically,” Reyes said. “But the last five years, I’ve been sober and re-navigating the film industry and comedy and writing and all of it. It’s just so much easier when there’s not all that extra stuff in the way of me, my actual self.”

Kevin Clark, who played drummer Freddy in the film, died aged 32 in a road collision in 2021.

Speaking to NME to mark the film’s 20th anniversary this year, director Richard Linklater said the film “didn’t feel like a hit” when he first approached the project.

“I loved working on that movie and I loved Jack, and the whole process,” Linklater said. “But I did that for my own very personal reasons.

“When I went into that project, it didn’t feel like a big hit. It could’ve been a pretty cheesy little movie, the way it might’ve been going!”

Linklater’s next film is the action comedy Hit Man starring Glen Powell, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month.