Lee Daniels Does Not Sugarcoat His Feelings About Sobriety

By Victoria Kim 06/14/19

Daniels got candid about how much he hates being sober in a recent interview. 

Lee Daniels

There’s apparently nothing magical about being sober for Lee Daniels. He said as much in a recent conversation with Vulture.

“I’m angsty and I’m sober, so that is really weird to be going to the Met Ball and to other social activities not intoxicated,” said Daniels, co-creator, executive producer and director of the hit television series Empire. “I hate fucking being sober. It’s a bore. It’s a fucking snooze.”

The final episode of Empire is drawing near—the series will end after its upcoming sixth season. But the Academy Award-nominated director, producer, and film and TV writer isn’t bothered. His most notable projects include the films Monster’s Ball (as producer), Precious and The Butler, which he directed—working with Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Forest Whitaker, Halle Berry and more.

When asked if he gave up drinking as well as hard drugs, he replied, “I don’t do anything. It’s really hard, but believe me, I’ve done enough for everybody.”

Daniels recalled seeking comfort in alcohol as a young gay man in the 1970s. “I never really even liked to drink, but I drank because my father told me if he ever saw me with a man he would kill me,” he said. “And until I was 22, I had to get drunk to actually go through with the process. And then the drug scene came. And then all your friends start dying of AIDS. Not one, not two, not three, I’m talking intimate friends that you’ve had sex with, you’ve had dreams with, hopes with, people that are better souls than you, gone. And you can’t figure out, Why the fuck am I still here? So then it was like me on drugs and drinking, not even knowing I was an addict but just erasing all the pain.”

In a 2015 article by IndieWire, he said, “So even with all the bad things that happened to me, that I wasn’t killed as a kid by a drive-by, that I survived the AIDS crisis and ended up HIV negative is a miracle... I don’t get it, I really don’t get it. So much so that I went out and did drugs to figure out why I didn’t get it. And then had a heart attack and kept going because I didn’t understand.”

He breezed over a phone call he’d had with singer Patti LaBelle—while he was “not a little high, a lot high”—and she asked, “Do you know Jesus?” Daniels said, “I said a prayer and I think that was the end of my drugs.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr