‘BoJack Horseman’: Did Will Arnett Draw From Personal Experience When Playing BoJack?

Netflix‘s animated series BoJack Horseman redefined what adult cartoons could be: deep stories about the human condition in addition to crude humor. Will Arnett played the titular character, a washed-up actor who just happens to be a 1,200-pound horse.

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Actor Will Arnett speaks onstage during the 2020 Writers Guild Awards West Coast Ceremony at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 01, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for WGAW

‘BoJack Horseman’ is a very real cartoon

BoJack Horseman tackled many real issues throughout its six seasons, among them addiction, the power of fame, and the inner demons that everyone — even celebrities — face.

Will Arnett is joined by the likes of Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, and Paul F. Tompkins as they bring the world of BoJack to life. Throughout the whole series, Horseman struggles with alcoholism and is in and out of treatment programs.

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Executive Producer/Voice Actor Will Arnett attends Netflix’s “Bojack Horseman” Screening and Reception at Netflix Home Theater on August 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California | Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Netflix

Will Arnett’s personal struggles resemble BoJack’s

Early on in his career, when Arnett was struggling to find steady work, he frequently turned to alcohol to help him cope; unlike BoJack, however, Arnett hadn’t already become a famous actor.

Around the same time he began his relationship with Amy Poehler in 2000, Arnett decided to make a change in his life and started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Arnett was able to stay sober for years, but he eventually came to face a relapse in 2012.

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Actor Will Arnett attends “The BoJack Horseman” Finale Event, presented by Netflix, at The Egyptian Theatre on January 30, 2020 in Los Angeles, California | Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

RELATED: ‘BoJack Horseman’: The Depressing True Story That Inspired the Show

Will Arnett is sober today

In 2016, Arnett began working on his Netflix comedy series, Flaked. His character — much like BoJack — resembled Arnett in real life, and he soon spiraled back into alcoholism. Arnett admitted shortly after the release of Flaked that he “started getting confused about where [he] was at,” adding, “Hardly anybody knows this, but I started drinking again.”

Arnett successfully overcame his struggle and has been enjoying a newly sober life, but he hasn’t forgotten his dark days on Flaked. He opened up about his 2016 relapse on a February 2020 episode of the podcast Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd.

Arnett admitted to Shepard that his time on Flaked was “very confusing” for him. “The show is about a guy who’s sober and going to meetings, and then he’s drinking at night,” he recounted. “One of the hardest things was being frustrated with reviews, people are saying, ‘This is not a real depiction of what sobriety is like.’ And I was like, ‘Hey, motherf*cker, this is happening in real-time. You have no idea.’” 

Arnett has moved past that time and is happily sober and working today. But alcoholism and addiction can often rear their ugly head at the most unexpected time, and it’s likely that Arnett is remaining committed to his cause.