Everyone likes a drink now and then. As Luke Bryan says in his ballad about running into an ex “I Know You’re Gonna Be There”: “I’m gonna have a couple drinks just to knock off the edge / but not too much, don’t wanna make a fool of myself.” Nothing like a stiff drink to soften a tense mood.
But for some people, drinking is too tempting. Rather than the snooze button, the first thing they reach for in the morning is a half-drank can of flat, warm Budweiser. The last thing they do before bed is occulted by their nightly blackout drunkenness. Most alcoholics are just poor shmucks trying to make it through life, but celebrity addiction intrigues us because it attests to the stresses of wealth and fame. As Nicole Kidman says in her 73-question interview with Vogue, being a celebrity is mostly hard work, with a dusting of glamour to make it look effortless.
So if you’re curious, read on, and find out twelve successful celebrities who were behind-the-scenes boozehounds, lapping it up like thirsty Labradors after a hunt.
12 Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor used to drink so much that he once quipped: ‘I got away with it more or less unnoticed. I was a maniac on the booze but I only remember it fondly.” Interesting that in American coverage of excessive alcohol consumption always focuses on the pathological side, the “rock bottom,” but Ewan looks back on it like: “Oh, those days were the best!” Apparently quitting drinking doesn’t represent the same religious, sober salvation for everyone. At past forty, McGregor decided to focus on his career and more wholesome pastimes, but as a young up-and-comer he definitely dipped into the booze a lot.
11 Deryck Whibley
In April of 2014, Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley was rushed to the hospital after collapsing on his kitchen floor. Both his liver and his kidney were overburdened with all the alcohol he had consumed. Although he’s mostly fine, he’s still re-learning to walk after near-complete muscle depletion lying in convalescence in the hospital bed. He attributes his drinking habits with his early rise to stardom; Sum 41’s All Killer, No Filler topped the rock charts when Whibley was still a kid and he drank to cope with the stress of instant stardom and nightly expectations of rock-star energy.
10 Daniel Radcliffe
He drank every night. He showed up at work drunk. He blacked out nearly every time he drank. He became a recluse, drinking at home alone, at 20. When he turned 18 while filming Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, he life went off the rails and he turned to alcohol to make it feel better. He quit drinking in 2010, so terrified was he of becoming an irreparable alcoholic. Radcliffe has also mentioned that he drank for fear of failure, going from a multi-billion dollar franchise to “Whatever happened to …?” lists in snarky gossip magazines.
9 Shia LaBeouf
In June of 2014, Shia LaBeouf drunkenly interrupted a performance of “Cabaret” at Studio 54 in New York City. When he was escorted out, he yelled: “Do you know who the f*** I am?” Later, he spat at the cops in the precinct. As a result, LaBeouf was sentenced to six months of outpatient alcohol rehab. In March, 2015, the Transformers actor, sporting a braided rattail, went back to court to prove to the judge that he had finished his six months. All that was left to do after that was lay low for six months.
8 Zac Efron
Ever wonder how Zac Efron keeps such a trim figure all year long? Maybe it’s from his cocaine habit, for which he went to rehab twice in 2013. He’s also apparently a big drinker. In rehab, you’re supposed to stop consuming all substances, not only the substance you went there for. But Zac is not only drinking again, now, he allegedly never stopped. For a long portion of his career, his partying was tame. But then when he and Vanessa Hudgens broke up, all hell broke loose, and Efron started to take all the substances he could get his hands on.
7 Mel Gibson
As we’ve recently seen, Mel Gibson is a complete maniac. He once phoned his girlfriend to upbraid her for her inappropriate clothes and tell her that she deserved to be violated by a “pack” of black men [epithet omitted.] His erratic and frightening behavior could be attributable to alcohol. In 2006, he was pulled over for drunk driving and made anti-Semitic remarks to his arresting officers. A few days later, he issued an apology in which he blamed his actions on his lifelong battle with alcoholism. Although that seems a little easy to us (no one else on this list is a psychopathic racist), there might be some correlation…
6 Johnny Depp
In March of 2015, hundreds of workers were stood down from the set of the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean because the main attraction, Johnny Depp, injured his hand. How did it happen? He broke his sober streak at a bender with friends and punched through a glass door during an argument with his wife on the phone. He told Rolling Stone magazine in December of 2014 that he and alcohol got along too well. After a relapse that same month, he allegedly sought treatment. Well, apparently the treatment didn’t work and he went off on another honeymoon with the sauce, leaving hundreds to wonder when their work would resume.
The intense heartache that made Adele an international superstar (and that got her latest single almost 200 million views on YouTube in just a week) also fueled her alcohol dependence. She said to her biographer Marc Shapiro: “I got so drunk by the time I went on at 2 a.m. [on my tour]. I had forgotten the words to my own songs ... It was the worst thing ever.” Halfway through her tour, Shapiro claims, Adele allegedly had a drinking problem. It makes sense; her songs are so loaded with sadness and sorrow, only alcohol could cut the acute pain, however briefly.
4 Ben Affleck
As we mentioned earlier, American coverage of alcoholism always focuses on the ‘richer’ things in life. When, in 2011, it was announced that Ben Affleck was going to Promises to get clean, his publicist stated: “Ben is a self-aware and smart man who has decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol.” Whatever the justification, it appeared that the program worked, that is until Affleck was spotted with a drink in his hand at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. This piece of gossip was only compounded when rumors arose that Ben and Jen split because of his excessive drinking and gambling.
3 Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is the highest paid actor in Hollywood and has appeared in some of the most lucrative blockbusters ever made. But there was a time in his life where his alcohol (and, more notably, drug) consumption made him too big a risk for producers to even hire. When Mel Gibson cast him in his 2003 remake of the The Singing Detective, he had to personally underwrite his liability insurance because other people thought he was too much of a risk. In May of 1996, his neighbor called the police because she found RDJ asleep in her 11 year old’s room, totally and completely drunk.
2 Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin joined AA when he was 26. Now, at 57, he’s been a teetotaler for most of his life. He says there are two seminal moments in him knowing he was an alcoholic. The first is that once, in 1983, he was driving down the Santa Monica Freeway drinking cooled wine out of a Dixie and he thought to himself that all the other people with cups in their cars were not drinking alcohol; they were drinking coffee or Diet Coke. The other was a piercing look of a pity from a man that ran a video game arcade where he spent most of his late nights.
1 Matthew Perry
“I was never high at work, I was painfully hungover.” Although Perry says that his white-hot fame during the Friends era definitely aggravated his alcoholism, he says that he was already a drinker before the show began. He says that even though he was never high on the set, he was painfully hungover, and that everyone knew that he had a problem even though he did his best to cover it up. On Friends, Chandler is a renounced smoker, leading us to wonder whether he was so convincing in that characterization because he knew a thing or two about serious addiction…