'American Pie' Actor Chris Klein Celebrates Six Years Of Sobriety

By McCarton Ackerman 09/06/16

"I believe that I learned some things that I needed to learn, and I'm using those things to my advantage today to be a better man."

'American Pie' Actor Chris Klein Celebrates Six Years Of Sobriety

Chris Klein became a teen heartthrob with his roles in Election and American Pie in the late ‘90s, but now he’s all grown up and sober after a boozy ride through fame.

The 37-year-old actor has been sober for six years and is married with a child. In his newest film, Game of Aces, he plays Jackson Cove, a World War I pilot whose alcoholism is so severe that air officials are left with no option but to keep him from flying. Given his own history with the bottle, it's a role that deeply resonates with Klein.

“It’s part of my story, and it was definitely a really amazing learning experience and growing pain for me,” said Klein to the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t want to behave the way that I was behaving, so I made a conscious effort to change and better myself. I needed to get healthy so I could continue to do what I love, which is making movies.” 

Klein recently reflected on his past to Entertainment Tonight. "Anything that came before this is a wonderful learning experience," he said. "We all have growing pains going through our twenties, and I was no different. Hopefully, the negative experiences that you go through, you learn from and they help make you a better person down the line. I believe that is the case for me. I believe that I learned some things that I needed to learn, and I'm using those things to my advantage today to be a better man."

At his worst, Klein was frequently drinking alone and blacking out. He was arrested twice in California for drunk driving, in February 2005 and again in June 2010, according to his Wikipedia page. Days after his second arrest, Klein's publicist announced that the actor had checked into the Cirque Lodge in Utah after being “forced to take a clear look at a problem he has been trying to deal with himself for years. He understands now that he cannot beat this disease alone.”

Looking back, Klein is convinced that his second stint in jail, and then rehab, was the wake-up call that saved his life. 

“I was drinking wine, single-malt Scotch, top-shelf gin. I thought I was sophisticated," he told People magazine in 2012. "I thought people with problems were the ones drinking out of a paper bag standing outside convenience stores asking for change." But after his 2010 arrest, he realized he was “at a point where I didn't know if I wanted to be an actor anymore. I didn't care. I needed to save my life. I would have died [without treatment] and I think about that every single day.”

Slowly but surely, Klein’s acting career has also started to pick up. And while a full personal comeback would be enough for most, he’s still angling for similar results professionally. 

“I’m a red-blooded American dude, liked to drink, and took it way too far. But I’ve got a lot more to contribute than being some teen heartthrob who did a couple of movies and then flamed out,” he said to The Daily Beast in 2012. “This isn’t going to be the last thing you read about me.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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