‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ Star Kristen Johnston ‘Had Really Bad Depression’ Filming the Series

One of the award-winning comedies of the ‘90s and early 2000s is 3rd Rock from the Sun. To the outside world, Kristen Johnston enjoyed the limelight and the TV show’s success. However, behind the scenes, the actor “had really bad depression” as she dealt with a newfound level of fame. 

Kristen Johnston played Sally Solomon in ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

Kristen Johnston as Sally Solomon in '3rd Rock from the Sun'
Kristen Johnston as Sally Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun | Alan Levenson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Running for six seasons and 139 episodes, Johnston played the role of Sally Solomon for five years until 3rd Rock from the Sun went off the air in 2001.

3rd Rock from the Sun debuted on January 9, 1996, as a classic fish-out-of-water tale. Johnston along with her co-stars, John Lithgow (Dick Solomon), French Stewart (Harry Solomon), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tommy Solomon), play aliens disguised as humans.

In an effort to gather information about life on Earth, they do their best to blend in. But being unfamiliar with the planet’s social norms, they often find themselves confused. Hilarious and awkward moments ensue as they take part in all sorts of human experiences such as dating and high school. 

Kristen Johnston says she had ‘really bad depression’ and ‘couldn’t navigate’ during ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

In her 2012 book, Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster, Johnston recalled her time on 3rd Rock from the Sun. The same year, she talked about her book with The Fix

The actor opened up about her experience with fame while on 3rd Rock from the Sun. She said prior to being on the show, being a household name wasn’t her goal. 

“I didn’t even want to get famous,” she said before adding, “I wanted to be an actress and I wanted the lights, and I wanted people to applaud. I wanted it.”

Kristen Johnston and Will Friedle in '3rd Rock from the Sun'
Kristen Johnston and Will Friedle in 3rd Rock from the Sun | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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She continued, saying the show’s success and her resulting fame led to “really bad depression.” 

“So when 3rd Rock From the Sun happened overnight at age 27, my ambition was ripped away from me,” Johnston said. 

“Of course, combined with overnight fame, I felt like I was locked in a dark closet with only myself for years,” she said before adding, “I had really bad depression. I love 3rd Rock, but it was the around that I couldn’t navigate. I didn’t have that ambition anymore.”

Also in her book, Johnston discusses her addiction to Vicodin which resulted in a stomach ulcer rupturing. She also talks about her subsequent recovery.

Kristen Johnston won 2 Emmys for her performance in ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’

'3rd Rock from the Sun' Cast
3rd Rock from the Sun cast | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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Her turn as Sally garnered Johnston two Emmy Awards; one in 1997 and another in 1999. But as the actor told Entertainment Weekly in 2012, she experienced a “big conflict” internally at the time. 

“You can’t tell anybody, ‘I’m so bummed you gave me an Emmy,’” she said. “You can’t be sad when you’re being celebrated. So it was a big conflict and there’s no shrink that can understand it.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.

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