Entertainment

These Hollywood Stars Got Clean – And Thrived

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Celebrity and addiction often go hand in hand. The music industry holds the most shocking tales think Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and others passing away at the peak of their careers.

But Hollywood is also rife with horror stories about stars doomed by their addictions. We’ve lost plenty of actors too soon, including big names like Heath Ledger and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Many stars, however, survive their addictions. And some even go on to greater creative heights after getting clean and sober. Here are some Hollywood addiction success stories:

Robert Downey, Jr.

The “Chaplin” star made headlines by passing out in the bed of his neighbor’s son in 1996. That same year he got stopped by the police for speeding, and officers found an unloaded gun plus cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine in his car.

He tried rehab twice, escaping both times, and eventually landed a 36-month jail sentence for repeated parole violations. He served less than a year, but incarceration nudged him toward recovery. It still took more brushes with the law for the actor to try rehab again, but this time it stuck.

He’s been sober since 2003, and, in 2008,  kickstarted the biggest movie franchise of the 21st century with “Iron Man.” Despite the high-profile 2020 dud “Doolittle,” Downey remains one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Bradley Cooper

The “Star Is Born” actor/director has touched upon his addiction issues over the years, but he dug deeper into the matter during the “SmartLess” podcast co-hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes. Why expand on the subject via a comedy podcast?

The 47-year-old Cooper credits Arnett with pointing him in the right direction.

The Oscar nominee says he suffered from low self-esteem when he moved to Hollywood in his 20s, and he used a mean-spirited sense of humor to compensate. Drugs and alcohol fueled that false sense of security, and it eventually spiraled out of control.

Except the future “Hangover” star didn’t realize it at the time. But Arnett did.

The “Arrested Development” star gave Cooper some tough love advice that helped push him toward sobriety. Being a father, Cooper added, keeps him from going back to that lifestyle.

“Every single thing is absolutely shaded by or brought out in glorious colors by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being. It’s just the absolute greatest thing.”

Ben Affleck

The Boston native seems to have it all: an Oscar-winning career, a beautiful fiance (Jennifer Lopez) and steady gigs since the mid-90s. But Affleck has let fans know about his battles with the bottle over the years, and the role it played in sinking his marriage to actress Jennifer Garner. 

Most recently, he used those experiences to fuel his powerful performance in 2020’s “The Way Back.” The critically-hailed film cast him as a former basketball coach trying to stay sober long enough to resurrect his life and career.

Affleck opened up in dramatic fashion during a 2020 interview with The New York Times, the kind of candor that went beyond Movie Promotion 101.

“This is Ben Affleck, raw and vulnerable, talking extensively for the first time about getting sober (again) and trying to recalibrate his career (again).”

Affleck’s directorial career temporarily stalled with the 2016 flop “Live by Night,” but he’s still one of the most in-demand actors today. Next up? Directing himself and longtime pal Matt Damon in the upcoming, as-yet-unnamed Nike-themed film.

Alec Baldwin

It doesn’t take a psychology degree to suspect the “30 Rock” alum struggles with anger. What many don’t know is Baldwin battled other demons earlier in his career, long before his public meltdowns and last year’s accidental shooting on the set of “Rust.”

He shared his early, painful struggles with “Good Morning America” in 2017.

“I got sober when I was just about to turn 27 … and those two years that I lived in that white-hot period, as a daily drug abuser, as a daily drinker…to my misery, boy, that was a tough time.”

Baldwin expounded on that chapter in his life in his 2017 memoir, “Nevertheless.” Like Cooper, Baldwin battled back his addictions before fame and fortune struck.

Drew Barrymore

The little girl from 1982’s “E.T.” could have been just another child actor statistic. Young Barrymore enjoyed a string of high-profile roles as a child, including the Stephen King adaptations “Firestarter” and “Cat’s Eye.”

She also became addicted to alcohol, and then drugs, before her 13th birthday, thanks to lax parenting and an acting career that began when she was just 11 months old. Her infamous trips to Studio 54 made all the wrong headlines.

Young Barrymore went to rehab as a pre-teen and probably wondered if her career had ended before she could legally vote. She focused on her sobriety and her show business work resumed.

And then some.

She revisited her party girl days, to a certain degree, in her 20s. She famously flashed David Letterman during an appearance on his late-night show and took it all off for Playboy Magazine.

She eventually settled down, establishing herself as an in-demand actress, producer and even film director (“Whip It”).

She’s been one of the steadiest working actors over the past 30 years, co-starring in monster comedy hits (“The Wedding Singer”), edgy streaming shows (“Santa Clarita Diet”) and horror classics (“Scream”), all the while producing feature films (“Never Been Kissed,” “Charlie’s Angels”).

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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