Eddie Murphy Talks Near Misses With Drugs, Alcohol

By Kelly Burch 08/24/16

“I don’t drink—I don’t have like this moral thing about it, I just don’t do it—and I didn’t get high.”

Eddie Murphy Talks Near Misses With Drugs, Alcohol

It’s usually a given that Hollywood celebrities—especially those who have been around for a long time—have a long and complicated history with drug and alcohol abuse. At least one, however, is an exception: actor and comedian Eddie Murphy hasn’t touched alcohol in more than 20 years, and says he never got high despite being faced with plenty of temptation. It’s not that Murphy is in long-term recovery—mind-altering substances just never held much appeal for him. And for that, he says, he is thankful. 

“I don’t drink—I don’t have like this moral thing about it, I just don’t do it—and I didn’t get high,” Murphy told the Awards Chatter podcast in a recent interview. 

There were many times when using drugs or alcohol could have impacted his career, said the 55-year-old screen veteran. One instance was when his Saturday Night Live cast mates John Belushi and Robin Williams offered him cocaine in the '80s.

"[One night out] Belushi and Robin Williams offered me some blow and I didn't take it, and Belushi called me a 'tightass,'" Murphy said. Sadly, Belushi died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1982, and Williams committed suicide two years ago. 

“The Eddie Murphy story would have been totally different” if he had given in to temptation. “There are a bunch of things like that that I look back on and be like, 'Wow.' And that just reaffirms my faith. I know that God is real. There's been a bunch of times when I could have wound up crashing and burning.”

In 2011, Murphy told Britain's Female First magazine that any alcohol makes him sick. He said that during his honeymoon in 1993, he consumed three glasses of champagne, which confirmed that he no longer wanted to drink at all. “And that was the second time I got drunk, and it was the last time,” he said. “I was feeling great for about five minutes ... I can’t drink, because I will throw up.”

Murphy—who rarely does interviews—was talking to Awards Chatter while promoting his new film Mr. Church. The movie, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, has earned Murphy rave reviews.

Murphy is unconcerned with keeping up with Hollywood gossip or celebrity culture, and does a pretty good job of disconnecting from social media—and media in general, he told the podcast. The actor doesn't have a computer or email, and has not read a newspaper in 20 years. "I don't feel any pressure to live up to any whatever—expectation—anyone may have," he said.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.