Mostly Credited As: Neil Hope
Birth Name: Philip Neil Hope
Date Of Birth: September 24, 1972 (Age 35)
Country Of Birth: Canada
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario
Date Of Death: November 25, 2007
Cause Of Death: Heart attack
Neil Hope was born in Ontario, Canada on September 24, 1972 to alcoholic parents, and was the 5th child born in his family. His parents got divorced shortly after his birth, and he and his siblings shuffled from one broken home, to another, going to six different schools in total. Due to the fact that his mother was too drunk, his sister Cheryl cooked the meals for his siblings and him. His parents would always fight, yet they never said a word about the children. He didn't want to be an actor until he was eight years old. He also wanted to be a director. He escaped from his troubled life through his television, watching cartoons, such as Bugs Bunny.
His father noticed his interest in acting, so paid $400 for an acting course, and his brother's girlfriend, who worked near Playing With Time, Inc. told him that they wanted auditions for a new show called The Kids of Degrassi Street. He got the part at the age of 10. At first it was suppose to be a one-episode character, but the producers loved him so much, they made him a major star in the show. Once the show was cancelled, Neil went back home, until he was invited to audition for a role for a spin-off of The Kids of Degrassi Street called Degrassi Junior High. Neil accepted, and auditioned, and got the role of Derek 'Wheels' Wheeler.
His parents were both very proud, although his mother didn't mention it much. Because of his role on the show, he was able to support his money with his pay checks from the show, instead of his parents both spending most of it on booze. Shortly after, his favorite brother Brian died due to cancer, and it affected the entire family. Later, in 1987, his father died of a disease of the liver called cirrhosis. Prior to his death, his father actually gave up drinking due to the advice of a doctor, except the night he died -he was later found dead by Neil's brother Stacey.
After his father died, Neil was very upset, and eased his pain by making a documentary called The Darker Side, which also featured Degrassi Junior High co-stars, Rebecca Haines and Bill Parrot. He also started drinking and suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide.
He later continued to act in Degrassi High as Wheels, and then in the series finale tv-movie, School's Out!. His character drove while he was drunk, killed a little boy, and made his friend (who was in the passenger seat) blind. His character was sentenced to jail time. After the series ended, Neil stopped acting, because it was hard to get parts, especially when you were a star from Degrassi. He stilled wanted to act or direct though, but instead did typical jobs. He was once engaged to his girlfriend, Christina Boulard, but the engagement was broken off in early 2001. In 2003, he reprised his role as Wheels on Degrassi: The Next Generation, and concluded his character's story.
Neil retired from acting altogether after reprising the role that made him famous, moving from place to place in Ontario.
On November 25, 2007, Neil Hope passed away at the age of 35 due to a heart attack. Hope suffered from diabetes and suffered from alcohol abuse. His body was not found until a week later by his landlord and it was not until years later that his family and fans found out about his passing.