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Home Improvement’s Zachery Ty Bryan Felt Like ‘a Cow Going to the Slaughterhouse’ on Comedown from Teen Fame

The former child star opened up about the many trials and tribulations he’s faced following teenage stardom

<p>Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic</p>

Zachery Ty Bryan is opening up about the hardships of navigating life after teenage stardom.

The former Home Improvement star admitted that it “was actually really difficult” to find stability as an actor after the ABC sitcom concluded in 1999. “If you star in a TV show today, you can be in any film that you want, but back then, it was the polar opposite,” Bryan, who played Brad Taylor on the Tim Allen-fronted series, explained in a new profile by The Hollywood Reporter.

“You were stigmatized as a TV star, and no matter how good your audition was, you were never going to be taken seriously. But I kept at it,” he continued. “On the same token, you might get turned down on a bunch of projects, but you could go out at night and hang out with your buddies at Mel’s Diner and everybody knows you.”

Related: ‘Home Improvement’ ‘s Zachery Ty Bryan Pleads Guilty to 2 Domestic Violence Charges After Allegedly Strangling Woman

Bryan then shared why he eventually put his acting career in the rearview to instead focus on producing in the 2010s. (Though he appeared in multiple episodes of The Guardians of Justice (Will Save You!) last year, his last credited role before that was in the 2009 TV movie Thor: Hammer of the Gods.)

“What moved me into producing is that it got to the point as an actor where I feel like I don’t have control over my career anymore,” the former child star said. “As an actor, you’re like a cow going to the slaughterhouse, and you have to rely on so many people, from an agent to manager to lawyer. I figured I didn’t necessarily have to act anymore, there were other directions to go.”

However, Bryan still regarded appearing on all eight seasons of the beloved series as “some of the best days of my life,” despite the negative aspects the industry brought about thereafter.

“Obviously, my life flipped upside down and everywhere you go, people know who you are, but I give a lot of credit to my dad and my mom because they always kept me grounded,” he said.

<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p>

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Prior to largely putting acting behind him, Bryan’s many credits included film roles in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Annapolis as well as many guest-starring spots on popular shows like 30 Rocks and Veronica Mars. However, like many other child stars, he still found himself caught up in legal trouble.

PEOPLE confirmed in October 2020 that Bryan was arrested for allegedly strangling a woman, which he later pleaded guilty to. He also entered a multiple-offender alcohol program after ending a record of DUI arrests, with one occurring as recently as 2017.

Related: 20 Former Child Stars on the Ups & Downs of Growing Up in the Spotlight

Bryan fell into Bitcoin and major debt as well, even being accused of running a fraudulent agriculture-technology startup scheme. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Bryan “duped” them into a shady cryptocurrency scheme, with one saying the financial losses have been “a gut punch.” But Bryan told the publication that he was not “running some shady scam deal or something,” insisting that he’s in “the same boat” as his investors.

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In reflecting on his many struggles, including the fraud allegations and his alcohol abuse struggles, Bryan said, “I do know when things get in the way of who you’re meant to be, where you’re supposed to go and what God has planned for you.”

“He sometimes challenges you to do some reflecting by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility,” Bryan added.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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