Celebriety: Gary Oldman

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In my Celebriety post about Daniel Radcliffe, I referenced a conversation Radcliffe had with his Harry Potter costar Gary Oldman about drinking too much. As Gary Oldman has gone from getting arrested for drunk driving with Keifer Sutherland to getting sober in 1995 and going so far as to meet his (now ex) wife in Alcoholics Anonymous, it seemed appropriate to do a six degrees of sobriety exposé on him.

What He Was Like

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I’ve never been shy of coming forward about that. But for someone who was falling down [drunk]. . . . I don’t remember making Scarlet Letter, to be honest with you. I know I did it ’cause I’m in it. 

I used to suffer from adrenaline. It was called Absolut.

I’m not a lad. I’ve never been one. I’ve played up and enjoyed the image because that doesn’t do any harm. But I got arrested 5 years ago [1991] for drunken driving and I’ve never been able to shake it off.

I drank for about 25 years getting over the loss of my father and I took the anger out on myself. I did a good job at beating myself up at sometimes. I don’t drink anymore but my alcoholic head occasionally say’s different.

It’s been said that alcoholics are egomaniacs with low self – esteem. It’s the prefect description. Being larger than life and yet your pride is crushed with self- loathing.

I am by nature sort of a loner. I kind of like my own company . I don’t have a big circle of friends. I never liked parties or going to bars. At times that’s proven quite problematic, because I live in my own head.

I was working and I was functioning and I was doing all those things that I do. I looked forward to it [going on a binge]. It was a treat. Until a couple of days in.

I never thought of going to the off-license and getting 2 litres of vodka. I’d always check into a hotel even if I lived 2 blocks from it. I’d get a suite,but because I couldn’t have people downstairs thinking I was an alcoholic, I would take all the glasses and leave little bits in them. I would get ashtrays and puff all the cushions up and turn the TV up. I’d order a bottle of wine, vodka and tonics and beer for all these imaginary people at this fake party, sign for it and proceed to drink it all – I once drank 18 grand in 3 days. Then I would wake up in my clothes on the bed, not remember anything and check myself out.

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Why He Quit

One thing that made me go into rehab was a sense of my own mortality. Another was my tongue. I used to wake up and it would be a vile green colour.

My drinking was out of control. My personal life was at a low point and I felt like I was trapped in a whirlpool which was sucking me away.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I was addicted to alcohol. I was just worn out.

Some bottoms are high, some are low. Sometimes people have to go to the gutter, lose everything before they can turn around and say, `I have a problem.’

I finally knew I had to get help to survive so I did something about it.

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Who Got Him Sober

It’s you and God, basically.

You’ve got to want to kick it for yourself. You’ve got to learn that you want sobriety for you, yourself, not for any other reason.

Demi [Moore] was one of the influences for getting me straight. When we filmed The Scarlet Letter together I detoxed all over her. She said – You’re sick, and you’re going to go away when this movie’s done to get better. And I said, No I’ve got this to do, I’ve got that to do. Making all these excuses. And she said – No, you’re in a bad way and you’re going to die soon if you carry on like this.

There’s a saying I picked up from Anthony Hopkins [his co-star in Hannibal]: what other people think of me is none of my business. I don’t give a fuck.

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What Recovery Was Like

That’s the biggest, hardest thing to do, the hardest thing I’ve ever done — more than anything.

What He’s Like Now

You know what, I don’t care [why I’m an alcoholic]. I was honestly and truly delivered from it. I am very, very lucky. I guess. I would have liked it to have been otherwise, but there we are. I mean, twelve years I’ve been sober. And so glad. I don’t regret any of it, I’m just glad it’s all behind me.

Sobriety is one of my great accomplishments. That and my kids. They really go hand in hand.

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Sources for the quotes:

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My Other Celebriety Posts

Because famous people are sober too, just like me and you


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home. http://about.me/AlKHall

Posted on November 9, 2013, in Alcoholism, Celebriety, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Love it, of course! I can so relate to those binges. Ugh. And the recovery quote, it was the hardest, biggest thing for me too! Great post Al, thank you!

  2. This is my favourite one so far, Al. I loved Gary then, and man do I really love him now. He seems very down to earth and grounded in this whole recovery thing. What character and he certainly sounds like one of us. 18 grand in 3 days? Staggering. Shows that all the money in the world doesn’t mean squat when you have this thing.

    Thanks for this…awesome.


  3. Love these so much. Thank you for doing them.


  4. Always found him dreamy. Thanks for this one.

  5. I can’t tell you how excited I am every time you do one of these posts. Almost without exception, I did not know the celebrity in question was “one of us.” And you do a phenomenal job in how you lay out each article, well done, Al!


  6. I don’t think you understand the concept of anonymity.

    • Hi Reggie,

      Thanks very much for your comment and bringing up one of my major concerns about these Celebriety posts. For me, ‘anonymity’ means keeping someone’s identity in recovery unknown, either mine or someone else’s.

      As all of the quotations i use are simply collected from interviews these people openly and willingly gave to public media, i cannot say they kept their identity unknown. They are the ones who chose not to be anonymous by talking about their issues in the public forum.

      i am not an investigative journalist looking to uncover anyone’s secrets. All i’m doing here is collecting various quotes that were made publicly by the people concerned.

      Thanks again for your interest and concern.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall
      (not my real name, as i totally appreciate my anonymity 🙂 )

  7. Thanks for this, Al! I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Oldman, and I must say that a lot of what I’ve read in this article as well as the one featuring Mr. Hopkins rings loud and true.
    Thanks again, Al. I appreciate the fine articles and the site as I’ve just recently come to find it. It certainly is inspirational!
    Keep up the great work, and thank you!

  8. Interesting story. Reminds me a bit of Stephen King talking about not remembering writing whole books because he was so wasted drunk.

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Sobriety from Celebs Who Don’t Drink - Palm Partners Blog

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