In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, “Hunger Games” star Wes Bentley opened up about his past struggles with addiction.
The 34 year old was lauded for his role in 1999’s “American Beauty” which won the Academy Award for best picture.
“I wanted fame, but I thought it would be incremental, and I became afraid of the overnight-sensation thing,” Mr. Bentley said, speaking to a reporter about his life since “American Beauty,” after a decade of keeping his own secrets. “I started walking into rooms, and everyone would look at me, and I would freeze up. People kept saying, ‘You have to find your next movie,’ and that didn’t make life any better.”
The actor turned to drugs to “escape expectations.”
The pressure to perform plus the fame and money from starring in a huge Hollywood hit fueled his drug habit. Starting out with marijuana and pills, Bentley soon graduated to cocaine and eventually heroin.
In 2000, he won a lead role in “The Four Feathers,” which involved exhausting shoots in London and Africa. The movie was released to poor reviews in 2002, by which time Mr. Bentley was back in Los Angeles and his drug use was accelerating. On the set of “The Four Feathers,” Bentley became close friends with costar Heath Ledger.
According to the interview, Bentley would spend his nights doing cocaine and his days looking for heroin. He continued to get scripts, but wouldn’t read them do to his addiction. From 2002 to 2009, the actor didn’t care about working, and only did the occasional film for money to pay bills or buy drugs.
In 2008, Mr. Bentley was arrested and pleaded guilty to heroin possession and to trying to pass a counterfeit $100 bill. He was mandated to counseling, community service, and 12-step programs, but he relapsed.
That same year, his best friend, Health Ledger, died of a prescription drug overdose.
Bentley continued to use drugs until the money ran out. He finally his bottom. He never entered rehab (“due to a lack of money”) but still attends meetings a few times a week, wherever he is.
Bentley is now four years sober and has a 2-year-old son with wife Jacqui Swedberg.
His most recent work has been as Seneca Crane in the “Hunger Games” series and he recently landed the lead role on Ryan Murphy’s new HBO pilot, “Open,” and a supporting role in Christopher Nolan’s new film, “Interstellar.”
“I’ve been given this second chance, and I’m going to do everything I can with it,” he said.
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