Artie Lange's Addiction Struggles Addressed On HBO's 'Crashing'

By David Konow 02/21/18

Lange has had a long history of addiction, and he is currently in recovery after pleading guilty to heroin possession last December.

Pete Holmes, Artie Lange and Judd Apatow
Pete Holmes, Artie Lange and Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow has had a great track record in comedy in television and film, including Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and more.

Now Apatow is the executive producer of the HBO comedy Crashing, and in a new episode, Apatow and creator Pete Holmes have written an episode that deals with cast member Artie Lange’s struggles with addiction.

As Apatow told Vulture, “We talked to Artie when we were shooting the show last summer and said, you know, we have an opportunity to talk about his struggles in a way that would be honest, and allow him to let people know how painful it is to have to deal with this type of addiction.”

Lange has had a long history of addiction, and is currently in recovery after pleading guilty to heroin possession last December.

Apatow says that Lange is “doing well right now, but I think it’s very hard for him.”

Apatow told Lange, “I think it’s important to tell people you don’t wanna have this happen to you, and to stay away from this at all costs.” Lange agreed.

As Pete Holmes, who also co-stars as himself, explains, “Judd, who’s obviously very brave and smart, said, 'Let’s deal with this very uncomfortable issue...’ Artie, who’s also very brave and artistic, was totally onboard. I was super happy that he wanted to get as real and as raw as the episode gets because both he and I experienced that, in dramatizing it, there’s almost something therapeutic about it...”

Lange, like a lot of other comedians, often deals with depression and addiction. As Apatow explains, “Comedians like to be open about their struggles, and I think that you can have this disease of addiction and still be a creative, kind, giving person... Collaborating on this episode with us was his way of warning others.”

And indeed, throughout his career Lange has been a living cautionary tale. “Artie is always playing the ghost of comedy future,” Holmes says. “He’s always showing Pete that there really is a lot of real suffering, pain, and loss, and to be careful... Artie’s story could trump anybody’s because his story has so many sad notes to it.”

At the same time, Lange has a likability factor to him that makes his struggles very empathetic to audiences. “You care about this person, are invested in him and his story,” Holmes says.

Lange poignantly told Apatow and Holmes, “I wish I could take back that day when I first tried heroin. I would do anything if I could have that day not happen.”

“Collaborating on this episode with us was his way of warning others,” Apatow says.

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.