Samuel L. Jackson Reflects on His Time as a 'Functioning' Crack Addict

One wouldn’t expect the road to becoming Hollywood’s most influential actor to be an easy one, but few paths to success have been as rocky as that of Samuel L. Jackson.

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the actor explained how his career almost didn’t happen, thanks to a “mostly functional” crack cocaine addiction.

Jackson’s experimentation with drugs began in the 1960s with heroin, then expanded to include cocaine and crack. The actor continued his addiction for 15 years, smoking crack, as the article describes, “the way some people drink Starbucks lattes.”

The habit even persisted into his early acting career. Jackson recalled smoking crack behind the theatre while serving as an understudy on Broadway.

“I'd sit there and smoke crack while I listened to the play,” he told the Reporter. “It made me fucking crazy. Because I'd be listening to him doing the lines and going, 'That's not right!'"

What allowed him to remain an addict for such a long period of time? The actor explained that that the whole time he was using, he had “a good reputation."

"I showed up on time, I did my lines. I was great,” he said. “But there was something that was keeping me from getting to that next place.”

Eventually, however, Jackson did hit rock bottom. One night, his wife and daughter discovered him unconscious on the kitchen floor, surrounded by drug paraphernalia. After this, his wife insisted that he attend rehab.

Shortly after detoxing, the actor took on what would become one of his first defining roles—a crack addict in the 1991 Spike Lee film ‘Jungle Fever.’

“All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it," he said." 'You're going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah.”

But sure enough, as the article points out, the role went on to springboard him into his current position as Hollywood’s most profitable actor. We think there’s a lesson in that—one that hopefully goes beyond “don’t listen to your rehab sponsors.”


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