Samuel L. Jackson is getting candid about his prior struggles with drug addiction in a new interview.
Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jackson was addicted to crack cocaine, though he somehow managed to keep working and stay functional. While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, the 70-year-old actor recalls smoking crack while working as an understudy on Broadway in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. He was shadowing Charles Dutton, who played the lead and infuriated Jackson with his performances.
"I had to sit there every night on the steps behind the theater and listen to Charles Dutton do that part," he explains. "I'd sit there and smoke crack while I listened to the play. It made me fucking crazy. Because I'd be listening to him doing the lines and going, 'That's not right!'"
Jackson also remembers another night when was smoking crack and spotted another actor he greatly admired -- Jessica Lange. She was taking a smoke break while working on A Streetcar Named Desire. Just a few years later, the pair were co-starring in Losing Isaiah.
"We would smoke cigarettes together in the rain under this awning where we were shooting in Chicago," Jackson shares. "It was fun. But I never said, 'Hey Jessica, I used to watch you while smoking crack' or nothing."
Jackson hit rock bottom when his wife and daughter discovered him facedown on the kitchen one day. They insisted he go to rehab and he agreed. However, while sobering up, he was sent a script from Spike Lee. The already famous director wanted Jackson to play a crack addict in his next film, Jungle Fever, which he did. Ironically, it was his first sober role.
"All the people in rehab were trying to talk me out of it," he says. " 'You're going to be messing around with crack pipes. All your triggers will be there. Blah, blah, blah.' I was like, 'You know what? If for no other reason than I never want to see you motherf**kers again, I will never pick up another drug.' 'Cause I hated their a**es."
Jackson also recalls auditioning with a “horrible” actor for a role in an indie film called Reservoir Dogs. It turned out that supposedly dreadful actor was Quentin Tarantino, the film’s director. Jackson was in the audience at the Sundance premiere of the film, where he decided to talk to Tarantino again.
"I was thinking, 'Well, good movie,’ he tells THR. “Then I realized that dude who I read with was the director! So I go over to him and tell him how much I liked the movie but how it would've been a better movie with me in it. So he said, 'Well, I'm writing something right now for you.' I was like, 'Really? You remember me that well?' And then about two weeks later, Pulp Fiction came."
That’s when he shared being so dumbfounded by the script, he read it twice.
"I vividly remember getting to the end of it and being like, 'Wow. Get the fuck outta here,'” he says. “‘Is this shit that good or am I just thinking, because he wrote it for me, I think it's that good?' So boom, I flipped it over and read it through again."
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 12: Actor Samuel L. Jackson attends Warner Bros. Pictures' 'The Big Picture,' an exclusive presentation highlighting the summer of 2016 and beyond at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 12, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage)
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Actor Samuel L. Jackson attends the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 9, 2016 in Burbank, California. MTV Movie Awards airs April 10, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT. (Photo by Frederick Brown/MTV1415/Getty Images)
Actor Samuel L. Jackson (L) speaks while actress Brie Larson (R) looks on during a press conference for the Vietnam location filming of 'Kong: Skull Island' in Hanoi on February 21, 2016. On location shooting in Vietnam for the upcoming film is due to begin next week for approximately five weeks. AFP PHOTO / HOANG DINH Nam / AFP / HOANG DINH NAM (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS, SPECIAL RATES APPLY) Actors Halle Berry (L) and Samuel L. Jackson attend the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 9, 2016 in Burbank, California. MTV Movie Awards airs April 10, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for MTV)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Samuel L. Jackson arrives ahead of the Australian premiere of The Hateful Eight at Event Cinemas George Street on January 13, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE -- Pictured: Samuel L. Jackson -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh attend the 2015 National Board of Review Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 5, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 306 -- Pictured: Actor Samuel L. Jackson during an interview on January 5, 2016 -- (Photo by: Jon Pack/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 04: Actor Samuel L. Jackson attends 2015 New York Film Critics Circle Awards at TAO Downtown on January 4, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 21: Filmmaker and Director Quentin Tarantino and actor Samuel L. Jackson pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER: Samuel L. Jackson celebrates his birthday at an event To Celebrate Quentin Tarantino And The Cast & Filmmakers Of The Hateful Eight at The Nice Guy on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for The Weinstein Co.)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 21: Samuel L. Jackson attends a Hollywood Walk Of Fame Ceremony Honoring Quentin Tarantino on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California.(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: Actor Samuel L. Jackson arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere of 'The Hateful Eight' at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on December 7, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 05: Actor Samuel L. Jackson attends the Hateful Eight SAG Screening and Q&A at the Pacific Design Center on December 5, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Co)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 04: (L-R) Cast members Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell attend the ''The Hateful Eight'' special cast Q&A screening at the Egyptian Theatre on December 4, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Co)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actors Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson and Wesley Snipes speak onstage during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 7th annual Governors Awards at The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center on November 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actor Samuel L. Jackson attends EXTRA's 'WEEKEND OF | LOUNGE' produced by On 3 Productions at The London West Hollywood on September 18, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Samuel L. Jackson attends the annual BGC Global Charity Day at BGC Partners on September 11, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)