Simon Pegg reveals battle with alcoholism: ‘You are micromanaged by it’

Terminal screening in London
I know Simon Pegg, 48, from the brilliant comedy Hot Fuzz, which comes up on so many lists of must-see Netflix movies. It’s weird, funny and highly watchable. He’s also in Shaun of The Dead, which he co-wrote (I need to see that!), played Scotty in the new Star Trek movies and is in the last four films in the Mission Impossible series, which he’s promoting. In a new interview with The Guardian, Pegg opens up about his drinking problem, which he went to rehab for in 2011. He also very clearly articulates how much work you have to do to hide a drinking problem, which I found relatable. It’s rare that I’ve heard it explained this well, especially from a celebrity. Pegg has been married since 2005 and has a nine year-old daughter. His wife was instrumental in helping him get sober.

He was drinking during Mission Impossible III in 2006
“When I watch that film back, I can see where I was then, which was fairly lost, and unhappy, and an alcoholic,” he says. It was the start of what he calls “the crisis years” – although most of his fans will have been blissfully unaware of it. “Because I hid it,” he says. “I’m an actor, so I acted … all the fucking time.”

How he hid his alcoholism from the people close to him
“One thing [addiction] does is make you clever at not giving anything away. People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not – they are incredibly organised. They can nip out for a quick shot of whisky and you wouldn’t know they have gone. It’s as if … you are micro-managed by it.” He lets out a burst of manic laughter – Pegg is remarkably chirpy today, despite the subject matter. “But eventually the signs are too obvious. You have taken the dog for one too many walks.”

He thinks Scientology is weird but says Tom Cruise is cool
“I have never discussed his beliefs with him, for example,” Pegg says. “Everyone always asks: ‘Did he try and convert you? Is it all Scientology?’ But I’ve never seen that. I have glimpsed it a little bit – people from the church have been on set now and again, but he doesn’t proselytise about it.”

He smiles: “Obviously part of me wants to go: ‘What the f- is that all about?’”

He defends Cruise’s couch jumping on Oprah
“People are quick to want to denigrate him, but there is a complexity to him. He is way more than just a mad alien. The weird thing about that couch-jumping thing [in 2005, Cruise demonstrated his love for Katie Holmes by leaping on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa] is that it came about when YouTube first appeared and so people leapt on it. He was just being a bit of a knob, that was all. But people want more dirt and horror than that.”

[From The Guardian]

Pegg co-wrote a movie in 2013 called The World’s End, in which he plays an alcoholic character who goes on a pub crawl with his friends, with a scifi twist. He says that it was his way of telling the world about his addiction, which he wasn’t ready to talk about until now. Journalists tried to out him when he was in rehab in 2011 but he squashed it with court orders and the story wasn’t released. He explains that he’s not ashamed and hopes that his story helps other addicts but that it’s not glamorous. “I don’t think it’s cool, like I was Mr Rock’n’roll, blackout and all that sh-t. It wasn’t, it was just terrible.

As I mentioned so much of this resonated with me. (Imagine staying up to cover an awards show for your job and forcing yourself to stop at exactly three shots of vodka so you would still be able to write the next day.) Now that I don’t drink I have more time, I get more done, I’m not as anxious and life seems simpler. It didn’t occur to me how much work I put into maintaining and hiding my addiction, but the way Pegg explains it makes so made sense.

Simon Pegg  at the Premiere Of RLJE Films' 'Terminal' at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood

Terminal screening in London

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Photos credit: WENN, Pacific Coast News and Getty

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27 Responses to “Simon Pegg reveals battle with alcoholism: ‘You are micromanaged by it’”

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  1. Prim says:

    If you use all that intensity and energy for good once you’re in Recovery, you can really do so well. I know so many recovering addicts who flourished when they put all the self-destructive stuff down. We’re actually incredibly motivated and productive people. You’ve just got to keep a careful eye on the self-sabotage button.

  2. launicaangelina says:

    I’m glad he shared his story on his terms. His description is excellent. I’ve always said that addiction is the dictator, but I appreciate the “micro-manager” metaphor.

    Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite movies!

    • Louisa Wright says:

      Shaun of the Dead is hysterical! I also love Run Fat Boy Run. If you have young teens they’re good movies to watch as a family. My 13 year old loves them and it’s very rare we can find a movie to watch together now.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      Shaun of the Dead is perhaps the best comedy/horror movie of all time, and easily the best Zombie movie.

      Hot Fuzz is hilarious but I think Shaun of the Dead is a better movie. so, Celebitchy, DEFINITELY WATCH IT!

      • Veronica S, says:

        Seriously, it’s laugh out loud stupidly funny. I’m very surprised our overlords haven’t seen it yet.

  3. SlightlyAnonny says:

    I love all Pegg films in the Cornetto Trio. If you have a DVD player, get your hands on a hot fuzz dvd and play the trivia track and director’s commentary at the same time. Best two hours of your weekend.

    • Ari says:

      I came to speak about the cornetto triology too not a lot of people realize its all 3 of those films and they all have a particular theme on purpose – love it!

  4. Shirurusu says:

    I’m very happy for him he kicked it! I have a dad who’s a gambling addict (very severe in his case) and even I didn’t fully appreciate how much of his time and energy had really been going to his addictions all that time when he acted weirdly around me as a kid. I respect every addict who makes efforts to get sober. It can’t be easy to be trapped in that loop. My dad never even tried to get better and it’s been a huge loss to me. He’s still alive but he’s never really present. I often think it would have been better to not have had him in my life at all growing up. Addictions are vicious things.

  5. Lindy says:

    Hot Fuzz is the movie I always rewatch when I need a good laugh.. He’s so talented and I’m glad he’s gotten on track!

  6. SympathyRage says:

    Switching from alcohol to cannabis saved my life. Alcoholism is terrifying.

    • Holly says:

      I went fully sober from everything, including cannabis, in January of this year. It not only saved my life; I’ve never been so productive and present. Have you considered not using any mind-altering substances? I think alcohol is so much worse than pot, but I can’t imagine using pot now either. I can’t wake the sleeping tiger of addiction with any substance. Congratulations on beating the booze, for real. It’s so hard because alcohol is so prevelant and in our faces. My drug of choice was pills; I don’t know if pills were as accessible as alcohol I’d have been able to quit so (relatively) easily. Like if I went out to dinner and the waiter said “Would you like a Xanax or a norco with your fish tonight?” would I be able to say no? If everyone at the table was taking a Valium with dinner, could I resist? Now I can. 6 months ago I couldn’t. But alcohol addiction is so much harder because booze is available 24/7 at our fingertips. I commend everyone that chooses the gift of sobriety and being present in life for all our emotions, good & bad. It’s hard but it’s worth it.

    • CityGirl says:

      SympathyRage – Alcoholism runs rampant in my family. I have a close family member who just cannot will not stop drinking. Hospitalized 3 times in 12 months….clearly it is killing him and it breaks my heart to see who he is now. I don’t recognize him anymore. He too switches to cannabis, but can’t seem to stick with it; always goes back to alcohol. I guess alcohol is so much easier and probably cheaper to get for chronic use. Did you find making that switch easy or did alcohol keep calling you back?
      My heartfelt congratulations to you for being able to stop. Alcoholism is the worst.

    • Olive says:

      i quit drinking 8 years ago and have tried cannabis numerous times but it always ends in me wanting to smoke like i drank: constantly. hasn’t helped me.

  7. La says:

    My husband and I absolutely love Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. I’m pretty sure we quote one or the other a few times a week. You need to watch it, Celebitchy!!

    So glad that it seems like he is in a better place now and is sharing on his terms.

  8. Esmom says:

    He seems like a good guy, I’m glad he’s doing well. You, too, CB! You’re an inspiration to many.

  9. Eric says:

    Love me some Simon Pegg.

    A true gem, flaws and all!

  10. Astarte says:

    He did a 2-season sitcom called Spaced. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Track it down if you need laughs (and don’t we all right now?).

  11. tealily says:

    I love this man deeply. I’m glad the more I learn about him, he still comes across as a decent human. And please don’t forget the love for Spaced! I loved that show. It’s such an encapsulation of an era of (I think) most people’s lives and so funny.

  12. Pam_L says:

    To Celebitchy,

    Add the film Paul to your list (one of the most underrated, funny as sh$t films EVER). It was also co-written by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Nick Frost is Simon’s hetro-lifemate. :)

  13. Doodle says:

    You need to watch Shawn of the Dead. It’s absolutely brilliant! I love Simon Pegg, and everything he does.

  14. Liz says:

    I wonder what Tom and the cult will think about his remarks about the so called religion!!!

  15. Vernie says:

    Celebitchy, I always appreciate your thoughtful and candid reflections on your sobriety. My partner has been in recovery for six months, and every day I’m grateful that he’s still with us. Thank you for creating a nonjudgmental place on your blog to discuss this issue.

  16. Amy says:

    Aw, Simon Pegg, my heart! Wow. I knew I loved him for many a reason, even moreso now. Addiction is so tough, you really can suffer so much without ever letting on to others. It’s helpful to hear about others’ struggles, happy he’s in a place where he feels comfortable to do so.

    Also, my friends and I still go, “SHAAAUUUUN!” from time to time, that movie is great. And apparently near 14 years old!!!

  17. raincoaster says:

    “The World’s End” is the third in the Cornetto Trilogy, including Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead. It’s the best, one of the rare movies that rewards you with something new every time you watch it. I saw it and put it together with Pegg’s evident temper in the previous few years, and it seemed to me like a pretty clear “confessional.” It’s an excellent movie, possibly the best thing he’s ever been in.