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Simon Pegg Details Alcoholism, Depression Battle: 'It Was Terrible, It Owned Me'

By Victoria Kim 07/12/18

“It’s like you have grown a second head and all it wants to do is destroy itself, and it puts that ahead of everything else—your marriage, children, your job.”

Simon Pegg

Now feeling secure in his recovery, British actor Simon Pegg is discussing the years he spent hiding his drinking problem and depression from his family and friends.

“One thing [addiction] does is make you clever at not giving anything away. People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not—they are incredibly organized. They can nip out for a quick shot of whisky and you wouldn’t know they have gone. It’s as if… you are micro-managed by it,” he told the Guardian, while promoting his new film Mission: Impossible: Fallout.

But one can only hide it for so long, he cautioned. “Eventually the signs are too obvious. You have taken the dog for one too many walks,” he said.

Pegg’s secret battle with alcoholism and depression—“It was awful, terrible. It owned me.”—was even hidden from his best friend and collaborator Nick Frost. The two have starred in many films together, including Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead.

The actor, now 48, says he’s felt depressed since he was 18. He drank to self-medicate. “It’s like you have grown a second head and all it wants to do is destroy itself, and it puts that ahead of everything else—your marriage, children, your job,” he said.

The worst of it—the “crisis years”—began during filming of Mission: Impossible III (2006).

Even the birth of his daughter Matilda was not the turning point he’d hoped it would be. “It was the most cosmic experience of my life. I thought it would fix things and it just didn’t. Because it can’t,” he said. “Nothing can, other than a dedicated approach, whether that’s therapy or medication, or whatever.”

That dedicated approach came a year later, when his drinking came to a head during a 2011 Comic-Con convention in San Diego. “I sort of went missing for about four days. I got back to the UK and just checked myself in somewhere,” he said in a June interview.

At rehab, Pegg seized the opportunity to get well. “I got into it. I got into the reasons I was feeling that way. I went into AA for a while, too. I don’t think I would be here now if I hadn’t had help,” he told the Guardian.

Now that he’s come out on the other side, he’s more comfortable discussing the times that he struggled.

“I’m not ashamed of what happened. And I think if anyone finds any relationship to it, then it might motivate them to get well,” he said. “But I am not proud of it either—I don’t think it’s cool, like I was Mr. Rock ’n’ Roll, blackout and all that shit. It wasn’t, it was just terrible.”

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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

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