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Before he was a megastar, Samuel L. Jackson put in a lot of work in the theater before his breakthrough in Hollywood. But there was one role he had in a Broadway play that helped push the megastar towards drug addiction.

Samuel L. Jackson credited his wife for helping him battle his drug addiction

Samuel L. Jackson smirking while wearing a suit.
Samuel L. Jackson | Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Jackson felt his wife’s love and support played a huge role in helping treating his addiction. The Captain Marvel star married LaTanya Richardson in 1980. While the two were living together in the same house, Jackson was beginning to unravel due to his substance problems.

“I had basically moved into the basement of our brownstone,” he once said in an interview with People. “I was like the troll in the basement, and every now and then I’d come upstairs and hover around to do something. I was addicted and being crazy.”

His wife would eventually step in and help Jackson search for the treatment he needed. This act of love was especially important for the actor, who realized Richardson could’ve easily abandoned him.

“She didn’t have to try to fix me,” he said. “She could’ve just said, ‘Get out,’ and left me into the world, let me go and be whatever I was going to be.”

But that wasn’t an option for Richardson.

“I couldn’t do that because I felt as though God had spoken to me and said, ‘Now, you can’t leave this young man like this. Give him some help. And then, if you feel like leaving afterwards, we’ll talk about it,’” she said.

Samuel L. Jackson once turned to drugs because of a stint in Broadway

Jackson once spoke openly about how his first experience in Broadway led to an addiction to cocaine. The Pulp Fiction star was an understudy for the actor Charles Dutton. Jackson was going to play the role of Boy Willie in the play The Piano Lesson.

“I originated the role at Yale and then I had to understudy under him [Charles Dutton] because the role was written for him when he was doing Crocodile Dundee 2,” Jackson once said on David Letterman (via Contact Music). “So when Crocodile Dundee 2 was over he came back and he started to do the play. It was pretty much the play that put me in rehab.”

Jackson went on to describe how losing the part drove him to drugs.

“You have to show up every day and sign in and if that person’s not there by half hour you start getting ready to go on. But he was always there…I had to sit backstage until at least the first act was over and listen to the play onstage, which was kinda running me crazy, so I used to sit on the back steps and smoke crack,” he added.

Samuel L. Jackson had a good reputation despite his drug addiction


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Jackson didn’t let his drug addiction jeopardize his career goals. Already fairly well-known for his theater work, he still managed to maintain his professionalism even when he wasn’t sober.

“I had a very good theater reputation. Granted, I was a f****** drug addict and I was out of my mind a lot of the time, but I had a good reputation. Showed up on time, knew my lines, hit my marks. I just wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was very satisfied artistically,” he said in a 2016 interview with The Guardian.

However, the Django Unchained star acknowledged that his career really took off once he overcame his addiction.

“I was working with people who made me better, who challenged me. So I was doing things the right way, it was just that one thing that was in the way – my addiction. And once that was out of the way, it was – boom! The door blew wide open,” he said.