Hard to believe there’s any such thing as a sober Simon Pegg. From his breakout sitcom (Spaced) through his over-the-top zombie comedy (Shaun of the Dead) to his slapsticking buddy-buddy cop flick (Hot Fuzz), the British actor has always seemed at least a little drunk.
In fact, when the sober Simon Pegg bursts in to meet The Guardian’s Tim Jonze to discuss Mission Impossible - Fallout, the funnyman still seems rather drunk.
“You have caught me at the best possible moment,” he says. “This will be the most enthusiastic, positive and interesting I will ever be. You have got the mother lode!”
Turns out the actor is drunk. Only this time his delirium comes not from drink, but from sobriety. And the mega-success long-term sobriety has helped him to achieve -- and to enjoy.
It wasn’t always that way.
Pegg told Jonze that he’d been drinking away depression since the age of 18. And in ‘06 he still had to drink it away, despite all the success.
“I would feel like – I’m in a film with Tom Cruise, I’ve got the part of Scotty in Star Trek. This should be making me feel happy,” he says. “But it wasn’t.”
The Cruise film Pegg refers to is Mission Impossible III, the first of the franchise to include his character Benji Dunn.
“When I watch that film back, I can see where I was then, which was fairly lost, and unhappy, and an alcoholic,” he says.
Pegg calls it “the crisis years.” Thing is, few people beyond Pegg even knew there even was a crisis.
Why? “Because I hid it,” says Pegg. “I’m an actor, so I acted … all the fucking time.”
“One thing [addiction] does is make you clever at not giving anything away,” adds Pegg. “People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not – they are incredibly organised. 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.”
Then Pegg fathered a daughter. If starring in blockbuster Hollywood franchises such as Star Trek and Mission Impossible couldn’t cure Pegg’s depression and alcoholism, surely having a kid would set him straight, right?
“It was the most cosmic experience of my life,” he tells Jonze. “I thought [becoming a father] would fix things and it just didn’t. Because it can’t. Nothing can, other than a dedicated approach, whether that’s therapy or medication, or whatever.”
So Pegg checked himself into rehab. And there he began confronting the underlying causes of his misery -- and his addiction.
“I got into it,” he says. “I got into the reasons I was feeling that way. I went into AA for a while, too.”
It worked. Pegg’s lovable Benji Dunn has since been bumped up to feature status in three more editions of Mission Impossible. There’s also been two more editions of Star Trek, a Star Wars, the massive Ready Player One and who-knows-how-many shorts, indies, voicings and cameos.
Even after all the clean time, Pegg is careful not to gloat about his experience with addiction -- or to disown any of it either.
“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. 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.”
As for recovery? Well, the now long sober Simon Pegg is brutally rather matter of fact about all that.
“I don’t think I would be here now if I hadn’t had help.”
We at Recovery Boot Camp would like to applaud the sober Simon Pegg for his candor, and to congratulate him on his continuing success. We too have seen men succeed beyond their dreams in sobriety. And while they might not all be starring in Hollywood blockbusters, they all are again playing leading roles in their very own lives. And that’s a success worthy of just as many accolades!