Simon Pegg

You've seen him in Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, the Mission: Impossible franchise. as well as Doctor Who (2005), Star Trek (2009–2016), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). You may even have heard him in one of the three Ice Age movies. He's Simon Pegg. both a righteously accomplished actor and one of everybody's favorites. But were you aware he nearly drank himself to death?

True story. In fact, Pegg's drinking got so bad that when he looks back now "it sometimes makes [him] feel sick." That's what he told The Times of London. And that's the part of the story we and every other outlet in the world has picked up and run with. No, not because it's the most sordid part of the story. (Though there is that.) Nor because Pegg has become world famous. (Though there is that too.) No, we picked it up because Pegg got sober. And 12 years later he's one of the most beloved nerds in Nerd-dom. He's also one of the most bankable. And we couldn't be happier.

Being Simon Pegg

It wasn't always easy being Simon Pegg. Not according to Simon Pegg anyway. The actor even wrote about some of his hardships in the 2009 memoir Nerd Do Well (Avery). Much of those hardships sprang from the severe depression Pegg developed after his parents' rather inamicable divorce. Seems he didn't feel particularly liked by either of his stepparents.

"My relationship with both [stepfather and stepmother] was really difficult," Pegg said. "They were young and immature. They had their own issues. And I was the walking, talking remnant of another relationship."

That household unhappiness apparently stayed lurking within him. So when Pegg revisited his childhood for the memoir, it all came flooding back. The deluge literally drove him to drink.

“I became addicted to the sensation of being numb," he said.
 
Numb and then some. Pegg previously admitted he was 'kind of a wreck' when shooting Mission Impossible III. One time he even killed the entire contents of his hotel room's mini-bar ahead of shooting scenes.

It got worse. Pegg vaguely recalls sitting on a San Diego sidewalk eating pizza after losing his phone after Comic-Con 2010 and thinking, 'Shit. I must look really pathetic.'

He also vaguely recalls flying back to Los Angeles on a private jet with Sigourney Weaver. Weaver may have been pretending to be a peanut-serving cabin crew member (to avoid Pegg?). Then again, she may not have done any such thing. Pegg says the details are still a bit fuzzy. The actor is pretty sure though that he subsequently managed to check into a Santa Monica hotel. (He didn't however say whether or not he trashed the room.)

Whatever the case, the liquor spigot stayed pretty much on blast. When long-time collaborator Nick Frost raised concerns, Pegg put him on pause. He did the same with his wife Maureen. "It’s not as easy as [just] stopping," Pegg said at the time. Finally, "I just sort of threw myself off a cliff".

Off a cliff and straight into rehab. Pegg opted for The Priory, whose previous guests include Kate Moss and Eric Clapton. The Priory happens to be London's longest-running private mental health facility. Its staff is also apparently quite good at what they do. They were sure good for Pegg, who backed his stint with Alcoholics Anonymous and in-person therapy. He's been blessedly sober ever since.
 
When The Times asked Pegg whether he'd be dead today if he hadn't gotten help, the actor was unequivocal: "One hundred per cent," he said. "Because, and I don't think it's too dramatic to say, that is the ultimate end of that line of flight."

Digging Simon Pegg

Simon Pegg had already done a good chunk of British TV and movie work before coming to worldwide attention in 2004's romantic zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. In fact, Shaun is based on a fantasy sequence culled from the Edgar Wright-directed sitcom Spaced, which had a well-received two-year run on Britain's beloved Channel 4. Pegg not only starred in Spaced, but he also co-wrote (with Jessica Stevenson), including a part scripted specifically for his pal Nick Frost. When Shaun's time came around, Pegg put the lot in the laps of the three amigos. The result left Pegg (co-writer, lead), Wright (co-writer, director) and Frost (co-star) handling the bulk of what would become a bona fide indie classic.

By bona fide, we do mean bona fide, though we're a bit unsure which achievements make Shaun more of a classic. Could it be the fact that Dawn of the Dead director George A. Romero gave the film his coveted seal of approval? (The legendary filmmaker even invited both Pegg and Wright to cameo on his subsequent Land of the Dead.) Could it be because college students now deliver carefully-wrought theses devoted to the movie? (ie "Zombification and the Average Working Class in Shaun of the Dead") Or might it simply be because Shaun holds a 92% Rotten Tomatoes and was rated Channel 4's third greatest comedy? (Behind only Monty Python's Life of Brian and Airplane!.)

Whatever the reason, Pegg's unlikely classic set himself up for an equally unlikely rise to the top. Indeed, even Pegg's star turn in the massive Mission Impossible III began as either a bit of a joke or something of a premonition.

See, when Pegg was asked whether Shaun's success would lure him away from the UK, he said "It's not like we're going to go away and do, I don't know, Mission: Impossible III." At the time, everyone considered Pegg's off the cuff statement to be nothing more than that. Nobody had announced a third M:I. And they most certainly hadn't said anything about a sequel starring Simon Pegg. Nevertheless, some six months or so later there it was. Mission: Impossible III starring Simon Pegg as IMF Tech Benji Dunn.

Premonition? Joke? Inside scoop? It doesn't matter. What matters is that Mission: Impossible 7 (aka Dead Reckoning Part One) will mark Pegg's fifth appearance in the franchise. That's second only to Cruise himself.

Of course Benji Dunn isn't the only way we get to dig Simon Pegg. When not playing the eminently likable and inevitably imperiled character (he's also in the M:I hit sequels Ghost Protocol (2011), Rogue Nation (2015), and Fallout (2018)), he can be found portraying engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott in JJ Abrams' 2009 Star Trek reboot, as well as the sequels Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Star Trek Beyond. On the animation front, Pegg voiced the heroic mouse Reepicheep in Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in addition to the weasel Buck Wild in the aforementioned Ice Age series. In fact, Disney recently added Ice Age: Adventures of Buck Wild to the run. And there's nothing like having a titular spin-off to prove your weasel is as wowful as they come.

Healing Properties

All of which is to say we can catch Simon Pegg in a variety of delightful roles whenever we uncrack our laptops. More often than not, he's available at the local cinerama as well. None of that would have been possible had Pegg kept kicking back the liquor, especially with such ferocity. There comes a point in everyone's life when too much is simply too much; it's up to each of us to recognize that fact and then adjust ourselves accordingly. Pegg did that. Just how it's supposed to be done. And he's been subsequently rewarded as a result.

So have we, when you think about it. There's no calibrating the amount of enjoyment Simon Pegg has brought to our lives. The smiles, the laughs and the joy simply goes on and on and on. With Zeus in his corner and liquor in the rear view, it will keep going on too. And we should consider ourselves blessed.

How about you? Have you put liquor in the rear view? What about drugs? Have you ditched them as well? It's doable, you know. Definitely doable. Just ask Simon Pegg. Better yet, uncrack your laptop or hit your local cinema and see how it's done. Because that evidence is priceless.

You are too. Priceless, that is. Recovery Boot Camp would like to help you prove it. So give us a ring. Please. Let us get you sorted. Who knows? There could very well be a blockbuster film series in your future too!

(Image: Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan | Creative Commons via Wikimedia Commons)

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