Freddie Prinze Jr. Took Decades to Accept His Father’s Accidental Death and the ‘Huge Void’ It Caused: ‘I Didn’t Even Know Him’

Freddie Prinze Jr. is best known for his roles in teen movies such as 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer 1999’s She’s All That, and 2002’s Scooby-Doo. Although he seemed to have it all, Prinze was struggling with his famous father’s death. The actor has revealed it took him a long time to accept what had happened in his family.

Freddie Prinze Jr. gained fame in the 1990s

When he was in high school, Freddie Prinze Jr. decided to become an actor. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his goal after graduating in 1994.

Eventually, he landed a guest role on Family Matters in 1995 and appeared in a few small movies. Two years later, Prinze got his big break in the slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer. He became a teen icon, starring in movies such as She’s All That, Down to You, and Boys and Girls. In the 2000s, Prinze also played Fred Jones in two live-action Scooby-Doo films.

But not all was not well behind the scenes.

Freddie Prinze Jr. took decades to accept his father’s death

Freddie Prinze Jr. father, Freddie Prinze death
Freddie Prinze Jr. | Donna Ward/Getty Images

While Freddie Prinze Jr. became a Hollywood star, he was also dealing with personal issues — namely, his father’s death.

Freddie Prinze Sr. was a comedian and actor who starred in the sitcom Chico and the Man. He died in 1977 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when Prinze Jr. was less than a year old. (The coroner concluded Prinze Sr. died by suicide, but six years later, a jury found that “the shooting was accidental because the 22-year-old was under the influence of drugs and may have thought the pistol’s safety was engaged,” UPI reported.)

According to Prinze Jr., for much of his childhood, he did not know his father and did not miss him. However, when he became a teenager, the effects of his dad’s absence began to surface.

“There was this huge need for a father figure and this search for who my father was,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1999. “And nobody could really talk to me about it, because everybody was kind of like scared and they didn’t know the right words to say, because they didn’t want to tell me that my old man did drugs and shot himself.”

One person who was willing to talk to Prinze Jr. was his father’s manager, Ron DiBlasio. He reportedly told Prinze Jr. about “the great stuff and the bad stuff,” and the young actor had some difficulties processing all the information.

“You’re like, ‘What the hell? Why wasn’t I good enough for you to stay?’ And stuff that really isn’t your fault, but when you’re 16, 17, there’s no other alternative,” he said.

However, after many years, he eventually saw his father’s death in a healthier way. “My old man taught me a lot of stuff in his death that I don’t even know if he would have been able to teach me had he been alive,” Prinze Jr. explained. “And that was to never do stuff that can jeopardize the people you love and hurt them. And I would never want for my girlfriend or my friends to feel the way I felt when I was young, just to have this huge void in your life.”

The ‘Scooby-Doo’ actor’s life today

In the past decade, Freddie Prinze Jr. has largely stepped out of the spotlight. Some people might even think he has disappeared from Hollywood.

However, he is still a presence in show business. He continues to act here and there, and he hosts the podcast Wrestling With Freddie. He’s a pro-wrestling enthusiast, and the podcast features conversations about WWE.

In addition, Prinze has been married to Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Sarah Michelle Gellar since 2002. They have two children.

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