Samuel L. Jackson is opening up about his struggle with addiction early in his career.
He told People in a recent joint interview with his wife of 41 years, Broadway actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson, that his previous dependency on drugs nearly ruined his career and marriage.
Jackson was addicted to crack cocaine during in the early years of his marriage and career. He said his addiction defined relationships with his family and it emotionally separated them even when he was physically present.
“I had basically moved into the basement of our brownstone,” he said. “I was like the troll in the basement, and every now and then I’d come upstairs and hover around to do something. I was addicted and being crazy.”
Jackson was a functional drug user. In 2019, he told "Entertainment Tonight" that he vividly remembers smoking crack while acting in the understudy role of Boy Willie in Broadway’s “The Piano Lesson.”
“I’d sit there and smoke crack while I listened to the play,” Jackson said.
In the People interview, Jackson said his wife's unconditional support offered light during some of his darkest times and she pushed him to go to rehab.
"She didn’t have to try to fix me," he said. “She could’ve just said, ‘Get out,’ and left me into the world, let me go and be whatever I was going to be.”
Jackson told "Entertainment Tonight" that his breaking point was when his wife and daughter found him unresponsive and facedown on the kitchen floor.
They made another plea for him to enroll in a rehab program and he finally agreed. This personal milestone of getting sober led to a consequential role: Spike Lee wanted Jackson to play a crackhead in his now landmark film, "Jungle Fever."
Jackson said that was the first role he played sober. The movie debuted in 1991.
Jackson has since climbed the charts in Hollywood. He stars in massive franchise hits, such as “Star Wars,” Avengers” and “The Incredibles,” as well as other acclaimed movies such as “Coming to America,” “Django Unchained,” “School Daze” and “Do The Right Thing.”
As of 2019, 120 of the movies he’s appeared in have collectively grossed $13 billion worldwide, making him one of the most bankable actors of all time.