'Bill & Ted' icon Alex Winter says abuse left him with PTSD

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
Director Alex Winter seen at the Los Angeles Premiere of AwesomenessTV and Defy Media's "SMOSH: THE MOVIE" held at Westwood Village Theatre on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for AwesomenessTV/AP Images)
Alex Winter (Credit: Eric Charbonneau/Invision for AwesomenessTV/AP Images)

Alex Winter has said that sexual abuse he suffered as a child left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, which was instrumental in his decision to quit acting.

Winter, best known for playing Bill S. Preston in the Bill & Ted's movies, first revealed his abuse, which occurred while he was working as a child actor, in 2018 in an interview with the BBC's Radio 5 Live.

He has never named his abuser, though he has said they have since died.

Read more: Bill & Ted stars give speech to St Dimas High

In a new interview with The Guardian, he has said that he had been suffering 'really intense and prolonged abuse' in the years prior to his break into theatre, which saw him starring alongside screen icon Yul Brynner in The King and I on Broadway aged 12.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as Bill and Ted (l-r) in scene from movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", photo on black
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as Bill and Ted (l-r) in scene from movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", photo on black

Winter describes 'eight shows a week, happy face – feeling genuinely happy in that role, great relationship with my mom and dad; great relationship with the co-workers around me; doing interviews, signing autographs, living this amazing... and then this nightmarish other existence'.

“I had extreme PTSD for many, many years, and that will wreak havoc on you. It’s a way in which you relate to the world around you and to yourself, and it’s very nuanced, but you can become very fractured,” he told The Guardian.

“So you slowly compartmentalise. You keep this thing over here, you keep that thing over there, and you don’t have any natural equilibrium. That fracturing just gets worse and worse and worse.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves (Credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“By your mid-20s, it’s like you’re holding those different selves together with duct tape. That’s when you see kids overdosing or blowing their heads off. In my case, I was just like, I need to stop doing this thing where these eyes are on me all the time and I don’t feel safe or comfortable... I just want to go ride the subway and help raise a family and do my writing and directing.”

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After the Bill & Teds movies, and his role in teen horror The Lost Boys, Winter made his name as a documentary director, with movies like Downloaded and Deep Web: The Untold Story of Bitcoin and the Silk Road, as well taking on subjects like The Panama Papers and musician Frank Zappa.

Watch: The new Bill & Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face The Music, is in cinemas now.