Behind the Wheel of License to Drive, Fast Starter Corey Haim Guns His Biggest Star Vehicle to Date

updated 08/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Many a kid would be beside himself. Here he is, 16 and without the major badge of teendom. But actor Corey Haim doesn't mind not having a license to drive. After all, he has License to Drive, the hit teen romp about a smash-up night on the town in wheels snatched from Dad's garage. The veteran of seven films, including the acclaimed Lucas, Haim is moving into the fast lane.

Most any 16-year-old can get a license. Corey already has the car, a dark gray 1988 Subaru XT6, which he drives with a learner's permit and mom Judy at his side (an adult crouched in the back seat of his License Cadillac). In the movie, Haim needs the piece of plastic to get the girl. Not so in life. The Tiger Beat cover boy who gets nearly 2,000 fan letters a week has for a year been keeping often-late hours with Lala Sloatman, a stunning 17-year-old blond who lives near Corey with her cousins, the Zappas—yes, Moon, Dweezil and father Frank. And try this teen dream on for size: Corey has his own apartment, albeit right below his mom's. "I think I'm doing really good," admits the slack-jawed sex symbol.

Unlike the hit-and-run hysteria of License, his career seems to be on cruise control. Born and raised in Toronto, Corey started acting in commercials when he was 10. "I wanted to play professional hockey, man," he says. "But when I acted, I thought, 'Well, okay, maybe I do have something here.' " Soon he was a regular on the Canadian kids' show The Edison Twins. Then came supporting roles in such prestige features as Firstborn and Murphy's Romance. He also played Liza Minnelli's dying son in the TV movie A Time to Live and co-starred in the short-lived NBC sitcom Roomies. And he stole last summer's hit The Lost Boys, playing a fearless vampire killer. But it was his 1986 title role in Lucas, as a precocious oddball who has to win over his high school peers, that sent Corey over the top. "It was a trip, getting all that attention," he says.

Haim moved to Los Angeles in 1986 with his mother, a former computer operator, who is divorced from his father, Bernie, a clothing sales representative in Montreal. His sister, Carol, 18, is a Toronto college student. Corey, who is tutored on his various sets, has no plans to go to college. He says the decision to get his own digs was practical, not emotional. "It wasn't for my freedom. The reason I moved is because I have so much stuff." Stuff includes a video game, a guitar with a HOLLYWOOD appliqué, two director's chairs—his from the set of The Lost Boys and another that says Lala—and huge Archie comic cutouts. There's a keyboard and synthesizer set up at the foot of his black leather bedstead.

"This is better than moving far away," Haim says of life downstairs from Mom. "We protect each other." But he laments that the walls are too thin for serious entertaining. He nonetheless makes an eager host. "Oh, man, you've got to try some of my lemonade," he insists, dashing into his clearly underused kitchen to pull a carton of Minute Maid from the refrigerator. Haim himself opts for the frozen concentrate, which he eats out of the can.

Haim's mother admits Corey's living arrangement is unusual. "Everybody wonders about this," says Judy, "but he's up here with me three-quarters of the time anyway. I'm still trying to keep him a 16-year-old, but it's so difficult. He's very mature, but then he's still 16. It's very confusing."

Corey isn't confused. On a recent trip to Vegas, he hoped his new hairstyle—dyed black from its natural brown—would improve his odds for getting into casinos. No luck. "These huge guards would say, 'Are you 21, son?' " he recalls. "It was pretty gnarly, man. I want to look young forever—but not in Vegas."

When he's not trying to slip past bouncers, he hangs out with Lost Boys Brooke McCarter and Corey Feldman, his co-star in License as well as in the upcoming Dream a Little Dream. He also spends time dodging the girls who circle his block. "It's a little frightening," he concedes. "They could be psycho."

Surprisingly, Heather Graham, the doll Corey makes out with in License, left him with, urn, a bad taste. "I don't like Heather Graham," he says. "She did an interview and said, 'I didn't want to kiss Corey; I didn't want to catch his mononucleosis. He had a kissing disease.' " In fact, Graham's statements, to Teen Beat magazine, were a good deal tamer—but Corey's swollen lymph nodes (later attributed to too much flying) had indeed threatened to zipper the movie's make-out madness.

Actually, Lala also resisted Corey's advances at first. The night they met, Haim invited her to his apartment for a party. "It was a lie," Corey gloats. "I was so scared because he tried to kiss me," recalls Lala, who appears with Corey in his next two films, Dream a Little Dream and Watchers. "I thought he was frightening." "I was harmless as a little pussycat," snarls Haim.

Pussycat? On the day of the West Coast premiere of License to Drive, Judy listens patiently to her son's plans. "We're going to take a shower together," he says to Lala, "and then you're going to go home and do your makeup and hair and get dressed." He turns to Judy. "We're calling a limo, aren't we, Mom?"

"But you just spent $2,000 on clothes."

"Oh, all right. I guess we don't need it."

Haim is not upset for long. Lala creeps behind him and starts rubbing his shoulders. Corey's eyes roll back. "Ooh, that's good," he purrs. "Ahh. Ow! Hey babe, watch your fingernails. Ahhh. Hey, this is fun."

Corey's bemused mother eyes her pampered son. "Isn't it great?" she says. "I've gotta get a picture."

—By Tim Allis, with Michael Alexander in Los Angeles

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