Neil Hope, the actor who played Derek 'Wheels' Wheeler on the DeGrassi franchise, died over four years ago and the details are only now being made public. The popular actor who played the popular character died on Nov. 25 of 2007.
"Neil made an important contribution to our lives, to the lives of our television team who are like a family to us and indeed to the lives of the many Canadians and others around the world who were influenced by Neil and the roles he played," long-time Degrassi producers Linda Schuyler and Stephen Stohn said in a joint statement on Feb. 15. "His life was not an easy one but the time he spent with us was a shining example of determination, hard work and hopeful optimism and he is sorely missed."
Neil Hope: struggles with alcoholism
The actor appeared on 'The Kids of Degrassi Street', 'Degrassi Junior High' and 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.' He was also in the 1992 Degrassi movie 'School's Out'. Hope only ever appeared on Degrassi projects as an actor. He struggled with alcoholism, even while he was working the show as a young man, and his parents were both alcoholics; Hope, from Toronto, had 4 siblings, one who died young of cancer.
“We have respected the privacy of the family by not saying anything until now, but our entire team is very emotional about his passing,” Stohn wrote on his Twitter feed. “Neil and his character Wheels in the early Degrassi deeply touched many lives.”
His died at the age of 35 and CBC News said the cause of death was listed as "natural causes."