Why you never hear from Drake Bell anymore

California-born actor and musician Drake Bell made his TV debut on Home Improvement, appearing in a 1994 episode of the classic sitcom at the tender age of eight. He spent his first few years as a child actor playing one-off roles in various projects (most notably Seinfeld and best picture Oscar nominee Jerry Maguire), and before long he was being touted as a future star. This didn't go unnoticed by Nickelodeon execs, who cast the young actor as a recurring performer on The Amanda Show, an Amanda Bynes-led spin-off of the kiddie network's long-running sketch comedy All That.

This was when it began to change for Bell. He became so popular with viewers that bosses at Nick decided to give him his own spin-off. Drake & Josh, on which he co-starred with fellow The Amanda Show alum Josh Peck, ran from 2004 to 2007 and picked up a number of awards along the way. Bell himself was named favorite television actor at the Kids' Choice Awards for three years running, cementing his status as Nickelodeon's golden boy.

However, like all live-action kids shows, Drake & Josh had a shelf life. When the once-popular series wrapped, Bell faded from view. Where is this former Nick kid now? Here's why you don't really hear from Drake Bell anymore.

Drake Bell's music career was hampered by a horrible injury

Drake Bell played a popular musician in Drake & Josh, and when the Nickelodeon show got big, he became one in real life, too. His debut album Telegraph dropped in 2005 and was met with critical acclaim — with AllMusic describing his sound as "McCartneyesque." Bell's sophomore effort, 2006's It's Only Time, received similar praise, but the wheels fell off for Bell shortly after the release of his long-awaited third record, 2014's rockabilly-inspired Ready Steady Go!. Bell was happy with the finished product — "This record is exactly what I wanted my music to be from the beginning," he told the San Diego Reader at the time — but it didn't go down quite as well with his fans.

Ready Steady Go! peaked at #182 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, more than a hundred spots lower than his previous offering. Bell's new direction wasn't proving to be as popular, and things got even worse for the actor-musician when he suffered what doctors told him would likely be a career-ending injury. In November 2014, Bell shattered his wrist diving into a swimming pool, and the verdict was not good. "Doctors say I will most likely never play guitar again," Bell tweeted (via the Daily Mail). "It's over." 

Luckily, that turned out not to be true, but Bell was forced to take a lengthy break to recover — meaning his big musical comeback was over before it even really began.

This former Nick kid became a superhero

You might not have seen too much of Drake Bell since his Nickelodeon show came to an end, but if you're into your superheroes, there's a good chance you've heard his voice. The former Nick star went on to play beloved Marvel character Peter Parker (a.k.a Spider-Man) in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man (2012-2016). He also got back in the voice booth to reprise the role for Avengers Assemble (2013-2015). 

It was a dream come true for Bell, who grew up reading Spider-Man comics. "When you're in the booth and you don't get to see it, you're like 'Okay, I'm Spider-Man,'" he told Marvel. "But when you see it, you're like, 'Holy crap, I'm Spider-Man! This is one of the most iconic superhero characters of all time and you can hear my voice coming out of him.' This is a trip. It's so cool."

Bell became such a favorite among Spidey loyalists that many wanted him to be given a shot at playing Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That opportunity ultimately went to Tom Holland, and Bell understood why — he would have been in his 30s by the time the first standalone MCU Spider-Man movie (2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming) hit movie theatres. "I think [the studio] wanted to really go for a really young kid," Bell told ComicBook.com in 2015. "[Tom Holland] is 18 or 19, so I think I just missed the boat on the age a little bit."

Drake bell was forced to file for bankruptcy

There's nothing like going bankrupt to bury an actor's prospects and switch off the limelight. Back in 2007, Drake Bell was making so much money that he was able to splash over $2 million on a fancy house in Los Angeles. The vintage, Spanish-style property he purchased came complete with a swimming pool, as well as stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. The young actor was living it up at the time, but when the work eventually dried up, Bell was forced to file for bankruptcy.

Things went downhill fast for Bell in 2013 — he reportedly only made $14,099 that year, way down from the $408,000 he banked the previous year. "Bell says he's only pulling in $2,820 a month, but his expenses total a whopping $18,771," TMZ reported at the time. "And Bell owes a bunch of loot in taxes." With the wolves at the door, Bell's house (all 2,640 square feet of it) had to go. It was foreclosed upon that same year and listed in 2014, according to the Los Angeles Times, which noted that Bell's former home looked "rather down-on-its-heels in the listing photos."

That said, with a reported net worth of $400,000, at the time of this writing, it seems things are finally looking up for Bell financially again.

He made some controversial comments about Caitlyn Jenner

The world was introduced to Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, and the news of her transition set Twitter ablaze. The Olympic athlete-turned-reality TV star revealed her name with a highly-anticipated Vanity Fair cover, and numerous celebrities came out in support of her decision. Not everyone reacted that way, however. Many refused to accept Jenner's gender identity, Drake Bell included. "Sorry... still calling you Bruce," the former child star wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via The Hollywood Reporter). The backlash was instantaneous, but instead of apologizing, Bell stood by his deadnaming comment. "I'm not dissing him," he said. "I just don't want to forget his legacy. He is the greatest athlete of all time."

The fact that Bell misgendered the star, referring to Jenner as "he/him" as he attempted to explain himself, only made his position worse. The Nick vet remained silent for a few days, but eventually returned to Twitter to say sorry. "I sincerely apologize for my thoughtless, insensitive remarks," Bell wrote. "I in no way meant to hurt or demean those going through a similar journey. Although my comments were made in innocence, I deeply regret the negative effect they've had on so many." 

Even if he was genuinely sorry about what he said, Bell's social media faux pas made him seem more out of touch than ever.

Drake Bell was accused of bullying Justin Bieber

Caitlyn Jenner isn't the only celeb Drake Bell's called out on Twitter. In 2013, the former Nick kid went after pop star Justin Bieber, kickstarting a beef that would drag on for some time. It all came to a head when Bieber was accused of terrorizing his Calabasas neighbors with loud parties and eggs. Authorities raided his Los Angeles mansion in response to complaints, leading to the arrest of Bieber's friend Lil Za — the rapper was booked for felony drug possession. Initial reports suggested that he been had caught with cocaine (the substance was later identified as molly), but Bell thought the whole thing was fishy.

"How much are you paying Lil Za to take the coke wrap for ya?" Bell tweeted at Bieber (via E! News). "Be a man and take responsibility. Learn to be an ADULT!... Instead of egging, speeding around your neighborhood and defacing property like a little s**t you should practice your guitar!" Bieber had been catching a lot of heat at the time, but some thought that Bell went too far (the actor went on to insult Bieber's artwork, calling him "talentless" in another scathing tweet). His behavior was tantamount to bullying, according to Bieber's BFF, Milk Tyson. "[One] day you'll answer for your bully s**t," Tyson warned Bell (via MTV News). 

As a former child actor whose music appeals to a young audience, "bully" is not a good look for Bell.

He served time in jail after a second DUI

Drake Bell lecturing Justin Bieber on his driving is pretty rich when you consider that he's got not one, but two DUI arrests on his rap sheet. He was charged in 2010 after he was caught allegedly driving under the influence the year before in San Diego, though he managed to avoid jail time. That wasn't the case in December 2015, however, when police spotted Bell speeding (the very offense he called Bieber out for) and swerving erratically in the Glendale area of California at around 2:20 in the morning. Officers could smell booze on Bell, who reportedly failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a Breathalyzer test, according to a Glendale Police spokeswoman (via the Los Angeles Times).

California law states that anyone who gets a second DUI in the decade following their first offense will be sentenced to at least four days behind bars. Bell struck a plea deal and was handed the minimum sentence — he got 96 hours in county jail, four years probation, and was told that he would need to attend an alcohol education program upon his release, TMZ confirmed. Bell was ultimately let out early for good behavior (he spent less than 48 hours in the slammer), but with these public relations nightmares to his name, the damage to his reputation couldn't be undone simply by playing nice.

Drake Bell had a meltdown on stage

Drake Bell reportedly had an on-stage meltdown in 2017, brought on by some unruly students at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C. According to TMZ, the singer-songwriter decided to open his set at the high school with some new material as opposed to his early hits, which made the crowd restless. Some members of the audience apparently raided a nearby ball pool and used the balls to show their disapproval ⁠— they started throwing them on the stage. An angry Bell picked up one of the balls and forcefully threw it back into the crowd, before stopping the show mid-song to complain.

"Stop the music right now!" Bell screamed. "Who the hell is throwing these things up on the stage, man? Stop it! It doesn't make you cool, man." Bell went all grown-up on the high schoolers, threatening to bring the party to an early end if they didn't behave. "We're trying to perform a show for you guys, you guys are throwing stuff at us. If you want us to go, we'll go. You're spoiling it for everybody, man." 

Nobody wants to have stuff thrown at them when they're working, but if Bell can't handle a bunch of high school kids, he's might struggle to make it back to the big time.

He only speaks Spanish to fans nowadays

Drake Bell's influence in the States might have waned, but he's managed to maintain his popularity in Latin America. "My music has always been received really well down there so I had the opportunity to visit a lot," he told Vydia in 2019. "During the last few trips that I made I had the opportunity to play big festivals, hear other Latin artists perform and see how well audiences were reacting to the music, so when I got back to the studio in L.A. it was kind of natural that that was the direction my music went." 

Bell recorded a song called "Fuego Lento" for his Latin audience, and a few months later, he decided to go all in, announcing that he'd be communicating with fans solely in Spanish going forward. Bell made the big reveal in a tweet, which went down very well with his Spanish-speaking followers. But what about those fans who don't speak Spanish? According to Somag News, Bell told one follower who begged him not to forget his English-speaking audience that if they wanted to keep enjoying his music, they better start learning Spanish. That's one way to alienate a section of your fan base, but Bell is clearly banking on being big south of the border. 

Has he stuck to his word? For the most, yes — Bell changed his name to Drake Campana on Twitter and Instagram, and, at the time of this writing, he posts mainly in Spanish.

Drake Bell's been dedicating some time to philanthropy

Drake Bell has made a couple of wrong turns since his time as a Nick star came to an end, and his career has no doubt suffered as a result, but he deserves credit where it's due. From the outside, it may seem as though the Drake & Josh alum has been spending all of his free time trying to get back into the limelight, but he's actually dedicated a good chunk of his time to charitable causes, most notably The Thirst Project. This non-profit organization secures safe drinking water for rural communities in developing countries, a mission that Bell feels strongly about.

"Everything starts with water," Bell told The Daily Californian. "If you don't have water, then kids aren't able to go to school, women aren't able to get work ... there's just a lot it starts. And it's something that I think could be solved — I think that in our lifetime we may be able to see this crisis actually eradicated. So that's pretty cool." Bell agreed to play a fundraising gig at Berkeley after the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi contacted him, and it was a big success — the event raised $2,500 for The Thirst Project. "It was really fun because it was supposed to be an acoustic show, and I just got the bug and I called up my band, and I was like, 'We gotta rock, we gotta rock at this show,'" Bell added.

This Nickelodeon alum didn't get an invite to his former co-star's wedding

After premieres and awards shows, celebrity weddings are the best place to rub shoulders with industry movers and shakers. Fans of Drake & Josh always assumed that the two young stars would be at each other's nuptials one day, so they weren't happy when Drake Bell didn't get an invite to Josh Peck's wedding in 2017. It all started when Bell lashed out in a now-deleted tweet, telling his followers that he and Peck were done (via the Daily Mail): "True colors have come out today. Message is loud and clear. Ties are officially cut. I'll miss you brotha." 

Bell's fans went after Peck on Instagram, spamming a picture of him and his wife. Peck was said to be "really hurt" by what happened, especially since he and Bell hadn't really spoken in years. "At Josh's wedding this weekend some guests were asking Josh Peck where Drake was," a source told Us Weekly. "They aren't close anymore and Josh had a very small wedding." 

The wedding wasn't that small (Peck's Grandfathered co-star John Stamos and his now-wife attended), but Bell eventually let it go and the pair made up. They've since appeared on YouTube together and are working on a new project, but it might not be Drake & Josh-related. "I wouldn't call it a reboot," Peck told Entertainment Tonight in 2019. "I think it's just an opportunity for Drake and I to be working together again."