Robin Williams, Re-Rehabbed and Ready to Roar

By Dirk Hanson 04/15/11

“I went to rehab in wine country, just to keep my options open,” jokes Williams, now starring on Broadway.

Robin Williams in a sober moment.
Photo via trialx.

About four years ago, Robin Williams started drinking again after 20 years of abstinence from alcohol and cocaine. That in itself is a sobering thought, and a grim reminder of the chronic nature of addictive disorders. But Williams dealt with it, emerged sober, and is now starring as a tiger in the hit Broadway play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Time magazine caught up with him and did a Q&A session with the savagely sardonic comedian. Here, Williams briefly discusses his addictive past:

Q. You made headlines in 2006 when you went to rehab for alcoholism. Did you find material there? Or is it all secret?
A. Well, secret--hence the name Alcoholics Anonymous. I went to rehab in wine country, just to keep my options open. But it was important for me to do. I had to. I was really out of control.
Q. And yet you own a vineyard.
A. I do, actually, which is weird. It's like Gandhi owning a delicatessen.
Q. We see a lot of stars with substance-abuse issues. Why?
A. I think celebrity itself is a drug. There's withdrawal, because it comes in waves. You'll be hot, and then you're not, and then back again. Even now, with an Academy Award, it's still, "Mork!"
Q. Billy Crystal says stand-up is how you process the painful. Do we have to wish more painful things on you?
A. You don't have to. I find them.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]