Flight Star Studied Heroin Addiction

By McCarton Ackerman 11/26/12

Actress Kelly Reilly met up with a former addict to help her "humanize" her character.

Kelly Reilly wants to break stereotypes of
Photo via

Actress Kelly Reilly didn't skimp on her research in preparation for her role as a heroin addict in Flight. Reilly plays Nicole, an addict who helps Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) gradually come to terms with his own addiction after he crash-lands a passenger jet. "I did need to learn about heroin. I knew nothing about what it does to you physically or how powerful it is," says Reilly. She was convinced to take on the role after reading the script, which she found unusually raw and genuine. "There are all these stereotypes of heroin addicts being junkies or drop outs or people who we shouldn't care about," she says. "I just thought that can't be true. They're somebody's son or daughter; they're human beings. They're just lost. That is something John [Gatins] got in his script. I really wanted to play that rather than the stereotype of the heroin addict." After extensive Google searches proved futile, Reilly decided to meet up with a former addict who "had to answer all these very stupid questions that I had, just stuff that I had no idea about," she recounts. "He informed me some of the stuff [the character] was feeling and how even though he knew he had no veins left in his arms, he would still do it in his foot or other parts of the body. Just to get that hit." Flight opened earlier this month and has grossed $31 million so far at the box office, as well as generating Oscar buzz for both Reilly and Washington.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

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.