Samuel L. Jackson Talks Past Struggle with Crack Abuse: 'I'd Been Getting High Since ... 15, 16'
The actor got candid with The Hollywood Reporter about addiction, rehab and recovery
Samuel L. Jackson is opening up about his past drug use in a new interview.
Jackson, 70, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter for its latest cover story, where he got candid about struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine in the 1980s and 1990s.
“The whole time I was using, sure, I had a good reputation,” he told THR. “I showed up on time, I did my lines. I was great. But there was something that was keeping me from getting to that next place.”
In the early ’90s, Jackson was an understudy for the lead role in The Piano Lesson on Broadway, which was being portrayed by actor Charles Dutton.
“I had to sit there every night on the steps behind the theater and listen to Charles Dutton do that part,” Jackson told THR. “I’d sit there and smoke crack while I listened to the play. It made me f—ing crazy. Because I’d be listening to him doing the lines and going, ‘That’s not right!’ ”
The actor noted that he used to see Jessica Lange across the street during that time period, taking a smoke break while appearing in A Streetcar Named Desire. A few years later, Jackson and Lange starred in the same movie, Losing Isaiah.
“We would smoke cigarettes together in the rain under this awning where we were shooting in Chicago,” Jackson said. “It was fun. But I never said, ‘Hey Jessica, I used to watch you while smoking crack’ or nothing.”
Jackson told THR that he went to rehab after his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and daughter found him unconscious in the kitchen.
“I’d been getting high since, s—, 15, 16 years old, and I was tired as f—,” he told THR about going to rehab.
In a twist of fate, the first role that he booked after leaving rehab was playing a drug addict, in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever.
“All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it. ‘You’re going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah,’ ” Jackson said.“I was like, ‘You know what? If for no other reason than I never want to see you motherf—ers again, I will never pick up another drug.’ ‘Cause I hated their asses.”
Jackson also opened up about receiving the script for what would become one of his most memorable roles: Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction.
“I vividly remember getting to the end of it and being like, ‘Wow. Get the f— outta here,” the actor recalled. “Is this s— that good or am I just thinking, because he wrote it for me, I think it’s that good?’ So boom, I flipped it over and read it through again.”
Jackson added that the film’s legacy has endured in the decades since it was released.
“It’s the kind of movie that every year, I gain three, four million new fans because kids get old enough to see it for the first time. They think it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever f—ing seen in their lives.”