The actor also recalled his late “Bully” costar Brad Renfro’s struggle with addiction, saying someone had to watch over him on set to keep him sober.
Nick Stahl got candid about his years-long struggle with substance abuse, saying it eventually became so uncontrollable, he “spent time on the street” and in Skid Row to find his next fix.
“Things got really bad for me,” the 41-year-old actor admitted to The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a horribly cliche child-actor story, but I had a very unusual relationship to drugs and alcohol. I never had a brake pedal with it.”
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His battle with addiction would begin at age 13 when he tried alcohol, calling it his “first spiritual experience.” “Suddenly, I had a freedom from thinking, from uncomfortability. I felt OK in my skin and I hadn’t really felt that before.”
It evolved into harder drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine after moving to Los Angeles at the age of 16, where he would find his work being relentlessly affected by the abuse.
“I was pretty much hung over for every single day of work that I ever did,” he explained. “As a kid, in my early 20s, through all the films, through ‘In the Bedroom,’ through ‘Terminator,’ through ‘Carnivàle,’ through all of it.”
After being cast alongside Brad Renfro in 2001’s “Bully,” the Texas native said he first saw how his life could end up if he continued down this path, as Renfro “shared” Stahl’s “affliction.”
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“He was more severe in his addiction than I was,” Stahl said of Renfro. “He just progressed to a point where he had to have someone on set with him to keep him sober. I remember feeling my heart going out to him, just dealing with something that was bigger than him and he was just trying to function.”
A year before Renfro would end up dying of an overdose in 2008 at the age of 25, Stahl’s own drug abuse “started to get awful pretty quickly” and he checked into rehab. Two years later, he would attempt a second stint at rehab and a move to Austin.
Despite getting married and welcoming a daughter in Texas, Stahl would eventually go back to Hollywood, where his addiction would lead him to several arrests and a missing persons report filed by his wife.
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Although rumors had him living on Skid Row at the time, he insisted that wasn’t the case, saying he would only frequent Skid Row because it was as “open drug market.” He also said he was never homeless — but “spent time on the streets” to feed his addiction.
In 2012, he stepped away from acting to focus on his recovery. “Not only did I learn how to live as a sober person, which I didn’t know how to do, but I learned how to have a life outside the business.”
Once he found stability and clarity, Stahl said he also rediscovered his passion for acting. But his recovery will always come first. “It’s more important to me than making films,” he told the publication.
Now clean for four years and with a few projects under his belt, Stahl said he doesn’t take his acting career for granted. “I work much harder at it now.”
And Stahl spoke to TooFab about his comeback. Read all about it, below!
Inside Nick Stahl's Film Comeback, Following 5-Year Acting Hiatus (Exclusive)
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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