So frequently has Brad Renfro gotten busted that critics may well sniff that his portrayal of a juvenile delinquent in the period picture Deuces Wild (opening today) required no research or talent. But the 19-year-old bad boy — who became a punch line after trying to steal a yacht without untying it from the dock — has at least one loyal booster in Michael Pitt, his co-star in last year's true-crime drama Bully.

"I happen to like Brad a lot," Pitt tells TV Guide Online. "People talk a lot of s--- about him, but I think he's an exceptional actor."

That said, even Renfro's No. 1 fan has no choice except to concede, "He's working some stuff out."

However, Pitt isn't losing any sleep over his friend's future — and he doesn't imagine that Renfro is spending his nights tossing and turning, either. "Half of the bad press and stuff that he gets... it's not like it hurts him, first of all," Pitt asserts. "And second of all, a lot of it is just bad luck. He can't do anything without somebody [nailing him]."

Plus, he adds, for Renfro and his fellow Tinseltown rabble-rousers, "if you do something at 2, [gossip columnists are] writing about it by 10."

Naturally, Pitt — Ryan Gosling's Murder by Numbers partner in crime — is eager to keep his own mug from ever being shot by the police. How, though, does the devilish 21-year-old manage to succeed where Renfro has failed so miserably? "I don't get caught," he replies with a laugh.