Samuel L. Jackson Says Sobriety Carried His Career

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Samuel L. Jackson Says Sobriety Carried His Career

By McCarton Ackerman 04/27/12

The illustrious actor is two decades sober and swimming in Cristal—which he won't drink.

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I'll have what he's having. Photo via

Samuel L. Jackson's films have grossed $8 billion over the years, with the many blockbuster hits on his resume including Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park and the Star Wars trilogy. And the 64-year-old actor recently declared that getting sober 20 years ago significantly enhanced his acting abilities, leading to the pinnacle performances of his career. Jackson, who lost his father to alcoholism, says his drug use began in the late Seventies when he performed in NYC's acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. "I fancied myself as Oliver Reed...I drank and I used drugs," says Jackson. I liked the feeling of not being cognizant of what was going on around me. I was working the whole time. I rehearsed and performed on drugs. I went on stage and watched people’s eyes roll across stage and I’d go, ‘Oh, I have a line, OK got to focus on the play now.’” The turning point came when his wife Latanya and daughter Zoe came home to find him passed out drunk on the kitchen floor with cocaine he had cooked himself. “When I looked up, LaTanya and Zoe were standing there," he recalls. "The cocaine was cooked but I’d never smoked it. That was the first time LaTanya realised I was doing something that was greater than just smoking weed and drinking.” Jackson checked into rehab immediately after that. And two weeks after finishing treatment, he filmed his breakout performance as a crack addict in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. And while Jackson hasn't relapsed since, he admits that he still gets plenty of offers. “I hang out with people who smoke weed on the golf course, I’ve been in rooms with big plates of cocaine. When I was drinking nobody offered me fucking Cristal, now I’ve got bottles of it in my house that people keep giving me." But still, "My wife doesn’t worry about me opening those bottles.”

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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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