Brian Bonsall is an American rock musician, singer, and guitarist, better known as a former child actor. His most significant role was in the TV series ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’ Born and raised in Torrance, California, Brian made his acting debut at the age 4, with a key role in the sitcom ‘Family Ties’ in 1986. His portrayal of ‘Andy Keaton’ in the series earned Brian three ‘Young Artist Awards.’ Gaining such strong appreciation at a tender age helped Brian bag some key roles in series such as ‘Day by Day,’ ‘Booker,’ and ‘On the Television.’ In 1989, he starred in the TV film ‘Do You Know the Muffin Man?’ and earned significant praises for his role, along with a nomination for a ‘Young Artist Award.’ In 1992, he bagged yet another major role, in the series ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’ The series featured him as ‘Alexander Rozhenko.’ However, in 1995, he decided to quit acting after his family moved to Colorado, and he has since been actively working as a musician. He has toured with many artists and bands over the years.
Childhood & Early Life
Brian Bonsall was born in Torrance, California, on December 3, 1981, to Garth and Kathleen Bonsall. His mother was a small-time actor in Hollywood.
She took Brian to many auditions and sent his pictures to various agents. Brian ended up making his acting debut at the age of 4.
For many years following that, Brian remained an active actor and also continued his studies. Somewhere around his teenage years, he started developing a keen interest in the prospect of becoming a musician. He learned to play the guitar and started writing songs.
By the time he was in his early teenage years, he had already started thinking of quitting acting for good. Soon, he distanced himself from acting and started playing in bands. His family moved to Colorado, and this was another reason responsible for Brian’s shift of interest from acting to music.
He graduated from ‘Boulder High School’ in Boulder, Colorado. While in school, Brian became a full-time musician in his own band, ‘Late Bloomers.’
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Brian made his acting debut at the age of 4, when he appeared in the sitcom ‘Family Ties.’ It was one of the most successful American sitcoms of all time, and Brian’s portrayal of ‘Andrew Keaton,’ the youngest member of the central Keaton family, was hugely appreciated.
Brian made his debut appearance in the fifth season of the show in 1986 and was then made a recurring cast member. The series won him a lot of praises, including three ‘Young Artist Awards,’ one each in 1988, 1989, and 1990. His role in the sitcom ended in 1989.
In November 1988, he appeared in the pivotal role of ‘Andy Keaton’ in a ‘Disney’ TV special named ‘Mickey’s 60th Birthday.’ The same year, he appeared in the role of ‘Zack’ in the TV film ‘Go Toward the Light’ and then made a cameo appearance in the TV series ‘Day by Day.’
In 1989, he bagged his first major breakthrough role. He starred in a TV film titled ‘Do You Know the Muffin Man?,’ in which he portrayed the character of ‘Teddy Dollison.’ He received a ‘Young Artist Award’ nomination for his role in the film. The same year, he appeared in cameo roles in two series, ‘On the Television’ and ‘Booker.’
In 1990, he appeared in the ‘Disney’ TV film ‘Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme,’ which featured him as ‘Michael.’ He appeared in a supporting role in the TV film ‘Angel of Death’ and ended 1990 with a cameo role in the series ‘Married People.’
Brian started 1991 with an episode of the TV series ‘The Young Riders’ named ‘Old Scores.’ The same year, he starred in two episodes of the crime-drama series ‘Shades of L.A.’
He also appeared as part of the cast of the TV film ‘False Arrest’ and made a cameo appearance in an episode of the series ‘Parker Lewis Can’t Lose’ titled ‘Civil Wars.’
In 1992, he had a major career breakthrough when he was selected to play the role of ‘Alexander Rozhenko’ in seven episodes of the legendary TV series ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ between 1992 and 1994. His first appearance in the series was in the episode ‘New Ground.’ The role was intended to be a cameo, but the popularity of the character had the makers turn it into a recurring role. Initially, Brian was considered too young to play the role, but he succeeded nevertheless.
By then, Brian had been acting for about a decade but had not made his film debut. His first real film opportunity came in 1992, when he made his film debut with the leading role of ‘Michael “Mikey” Holt’ in the horror–thriller film ‘Mikey.’ The film featured Brian as a young child adopted by a different family after the death of his first adoptive family. His performance was appreciated despite the fact that the film turned out to be a major critical and commercial disaster.
In 1993, Brian appeared as ‘Alex Sullivan’ in the film ‘Distant Cousins.’ He then appeared as ‘Eddie Charles’ in the film ‘Father Hood.’ The film was panned by critics and was an average commercial success.
In 1994, Brian appeared as ‘Preston Waters’ in the film ‘Blank Check.’ It was a leading role. The comedy film was a critical failure but a fairly average box-office success. The same year, he played the leading role of ‘Michael Paley’ in the TV film ‘Father and Scout.’ His last role was in the 1994 TV film ‘Lily in Winter,’ after which he retired for good.
His family moved to Colorado permanently, and this played a huge role in Brian’s retirement from acting. His increasing love for music also happened to be one of the key reasons behind his career shift.
While in high school, Brian had started a band named ‘Late Bloomers’ with a few of his friends. The funk-rock band played at live shows and clubs/bars. Gradually, Brian got addicted to music. Over the years, he has played with many bands, such as ‘Thruster’ and ‘The Light on Adam’s Stereo.’ In 2016, Brian was seen touring around as a guitarist with the popular band ‘The Ataris.’
Family & Personal Life
Brian Bonsall married his long-time girlfriend, Courtney Tuck, in 2017.
Brian has had several troubles with the law. In 2007, he was arrested for allegedly harassing his then-girlfriend. He was thus sentenced to a 2-year probation. In 2009, Brian was arrested again, for a third-degree assault on his girlfriend.
He also violated the terms of his release and was caught using marijuana in February 2010.
His mother worked as his manager. She once stated that she was concerned for her son while he shot for ‘Family Ties,’ as he was treated like an adult on the set. She also said that she wanted a healthy child first and that she would not mind halting his acting career for the sake of his physical and mental health.