Goosebumps actor Jack Black says he was hanging with some "pretty rough characters" in the grip of his addiction

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated October 09, 2015 12:50 PM
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Jack Black was barely in his teens when he became addicted to cocaine at age 14, but the Goosebumps actor says that he found the path to sobriety with special support from a non-judgmental school therapist.

“I spilled my guts, telling him I felt guilty about stealing from my mom to get money for cocaine,” he told Parade for its Oct. 11 cover story. “I cried like a baby. It was a huge release and a huge relief. I left feeling euphoric, like an enormous weight had been lifted from me. It changed me.”

Black, now 46, fell into addiction about four years after his parents, aerospace engineers Judith Love and Thomas Black, divorced when he was 10.

“I remember just lots of turmoil from that time period,” he said. “I was having a lot of troubles with cocaine … I was hanging out with some pretty rough characters. I was scared to go to school [because] one of them wanted to kill me. I wanted to get out of there.”

His parents helped make that happen, enrolling him in Poseidon, a well-regarded school for “troubled youth” in the Los Angeles area.

“Most of the other kids there were expelled from other schools, but I went voluntarily,” he said. “It was a place to press the restart button.”

It was there that he met the therapist who helped him confront his issues.

“Being raised a Jew, I didn’t have any kind of confessional,” he said. “I couldn’t talk to my parents about the things that I was most guilty about. My dad loved me very much, but I needed someone who wasn’t judgmental at all, who wasn’t going to be disappointed with me.”

Black later left Poseidon for Crossroads, a private school in Santa Monica whose fellow alums include Kate Hudson, Liv Tyler and Zooey Deschanel, and it was around that time that he discovered his love of acting.

“As far back as I can remember, I loved putting on shows,” he says. “I loved acting. I loved the attention. Maybe there’s a connection in terms of finding an escape and always needing to be up onstage. The turning point was when I started thinking acting was what I wanted to do.”

Now a successful actor with young sons of his own, Black admits his past experiences – including the death of his older brother Howard to AIDS in 1989 – might have made him into a bit of an overprotective parent. But he makes no apologies for it.

“Sometimes I think maybe I’m a little bit of a helicopter dad hovering above my kids and making sure that they never are in harm’s way,” he says. “But losing a family member is the worst thing I could imagine.”