Samuel L Jackson has been sober for 17 years

Samuel L Jackson has had an incredibly successful career in Hollywood, and he credits much of it to staying completely sober for the last seventeen years. In 1991 he overdosed on crack cocaine, which led to him being taken to rehab “kicking and screaming.” And although it normally takes a person hitting rock bottom and wanting to go to rehab to be successful, it worked for Jackson. He said he was so tired of everything, and luckily it worked.

By 1990, though, that drug fog had all but enveloped him. He was working as an understudy to a stage actor called Charles Dutton in a Broadway play called The Piano Lesson and found himself doing more and more crack cocaine just to ‘drown out’ Dutton’s voice, which was echoing in his head even in his sleep. When Dutton was nominated for a Tony award for his performance, Jackson went on an almighty binge that culminated in his wife discovering him unconscious on their kitchen floor. I read somewhere that he had to be dragged into rehab ‘kicking and screaming’. In most cases, that means the cure doesn’t take.

‘Yeah, all the experts say that you’ve got to surrender,’ he says, nodding, ‘but fortunately I was tired. I had reached that place where I could honestly say to myself: I’ve tried everything else, may as well give this a shot. The irony is I never got to taste Cristal. Back then, Moët was my champagne of choice. Now I get sent crates of Cristal and I ain’t never tasted the stuff. Ain’t that a bitch?’

Joking aside, does he ever feel like having a drink, maybe raising a glass of champagne or two to his own extraordinary success? ‘Hell yeah, there are days when I feel like that, but I don’t do it. I ain’t the kind of guy who can have one drink. I never could. That’s what I have to remember. I never had one drink in my whole life. When I bought a six-pack, I didn’t drink a couple of beers and put the rest in the fridge for later in the week. I drank the lot, then went out and bought another one. I was compulsive.’

Does he think that, in some way, that compulsion now drives his work? ‘Yeah, I guess so. I read six to eight scripts a week. I want to get up every day and act. The work defines me now.’

[From the Guardian]

Jackson says that he still goes to the same AA meeting when he’s in New York. He also notes that everyone in rehab discouraged him from taking his role in “Jungle Fever” because of all the triggers, like holding pipes and lighters. He told them he’d never pick up the habit again because he didn’t want to have to see those people again.

It sounds like he’s come through a lot and worked hard for his success. Completely abstaining from drugs and alcohol is an incredible accomplishment. Samuel is an amazingly gifted actor and is still seen as one of the coolest guys in Hollywood. He should be really proud of all he’s overcome and all he’s accomplished.

Here’s Samuel L Jackson with director Frank Miller, Eva Mendes, and Scarlett Johansson at the French premiere of his movie ‘The Spirit’ on Tuesday. Images thanks to WENN.

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14 Responses to “Samuel L Jackson has been sober for 17 years”

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  1. Rose says:

    Good for him.

  2. Judy says:

    He really turned around and I give him lots of credit for that.

  3. Syko says:

    That is fantastic. With addicts in my family, I know how hard that is to do.

  4. cmoody says:

    Am I the only one who finds it awesome that he was Charles S. Dutton’s understudy? With the exception of them both having very distinct and ringing vocal styles, the two are so completely different. I would never think they could both pull off the same part.

  5. Bodhi says:

    Good on him!!

    Getting clean & sober is one thing. Sticking with it is another. And speaking in public about personal demons is beyond the pale.

    My husband quit cocaine at 22 & alcohol at 23, 2 years before I met him. His strength of conviction never ceases to amaze me.

    Syko~ big ole hug.

  6. RaraAvis says:

    I saw him in Black Snake Moan yesterday. He’s not only an amazing actor, but he’s a pretty good bluesman, too.

  7. KateNonymous says:

    Good for him! Addiction is really insidious and powerful, and I’m glad he’s continuing to succeed.

  8. paris herpes says:

    I think that comes up a lot for recovering alcoholics, normal people always asking why don’t you have just one drink? WEll, it will never be one drink for them, if they have one, they’ll think about the next one and the one after that. I’m glad Mr. Jackson has been sober, it’s not easy but he’s had a great career, except for Snakes on the Plane…hahahaha! That was pretty bad…but aside from that he’s been really successful!

  9. FIZI says:

    best of luck….

  10. sauvage says:

    Good Lord, Samuel L. Jackson is one god*mn sexy mother f***er. Ignore the language. Damn it, he’s hot. Over fifty, and yet – I read it’s called charisma.

  11. geronimo says:

    @FIZI – So what? If what you’re saying is true, big deal. So he fell off the wagon one time. Nature of the beast.

    I really love and admire this man. Despite being a recovering alcoholic, he’s made a brilliant and much lauded career for himself. Sad that you’ve got nothing better to do than piss on his sobriety parade. :roll:

  12. mark says:

    God bless Samuel L.

  13. Nasarii Umbuto says:

    Wow, I didn’t know that he was an ex junkie. Well, good for for him, he stayed strong and beat that demon! I am glad to see someone have that kind of strength! Having a junkie for a father, I know it’s an uphill battle, but it can be overcome. Suavage, I agree, he IS one damned fine, sexy Muth*@&*! I just saw lakeview terrace last night, and had damn good dreams! lol