Simon Pegg On Past Drinking Struggles: "I Was Profoundly Unhappy"

By Victoria Kim 06/19/18

The actor recently revealed that a past battle with depression led him to self-medicate with alcohol.

Simon Pegg

English actor and comedian Simon Pegg has had a busy year, appearing in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi adventure Ready Player One, among others, and gearing up for the release of Mission: Impossible—Fallout.

The prolific actor, screenwriter and producer is generally private about his personal life, but shared in a recent interview that he, like many others, struggled with depression and a drinking problem.

“I was depressed. I had always been susceptible to it. But at the same time as I started to ascend into what would conventionally be regarded as a success, I was going down,” he told Empire magazine.

The success of his TV and film career did not translate to happiness. “The more material success presented itself to me, the less I could understand why it wasn’t fulfilling me in any way. It wasn’t that it wasn’t [fulfilling] me, it was because I was depressed. It’s not a mood. It’s a condition,” he said.

Drinking became a crutch, but that didn’t last. “I just drank more heavily… Eventually I crashed out. At Comic-Con in 2010—I’ve never told anyone this—we were promoting (the 2011 sci-fi film) Paul and I sort of went missing for about four days. I got back to the UK and just checked myself in somewhere.”

That eventually led to the decision to put the bottle down. “I got well in 2010. I stopped drinking,” said the Shaun of the Dead actor. "I got a little bit of help. If you look at (the 2010 comedy) Burke and Hare, I’m bloated and fucking dead-eyed… I look at it now and think, ‘Fuck me, I was in a dark place then.’ I was drunk a lot of the time and I was profoundly unhappy.”

Pegg credits the crew working on the Mission Impossible series, in which he has played the recurring role of Benji Dunn since 2006, with helping pull him out of his depression. “They took care of me and it helped me to get out of this dark place and realize that life was enjoyable,” he said. “By the time I finished Ghost Protocol (the 2011 Mission: Impossible film), I was better.”

The next Mission: Impossible—Fallout is due for release on July 28.

Pegg discussed the meaning of happiness in 2014 with the Los Angeles Times, while promoting his latest film at the time Hector and the Search for Happiness.

“It’s taken a while for me to get there; it’s taken me a while to understand what it is, how to be it. My own route to it has been an interesting one, and I think the one thing the movie says very clearly is that you can’t be happy unless you’ve experienced every facet of emotion that there is,” he said. “To know what happiness is you have to be able to pick it out from the forest of emotions. So you have to be scared and upset and miserable. You have to get all that stuff in order to truly be happy. And at 44, I think I’m there.”

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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