Jamie Lee Curtis has opened up about the moments in her life that led her to get sober after secretly battling a 10-year opioid addiction.
The 60-year-old actress was promoting her new movie, Knives Out, on the Today show on Thursday when anchor Hoda Kotb asked if she was worried about losing work when she first came clean about her battle with Vicodin.
‘There’s a recovery phrase that says you’re only as sick as your secrets. The truth is, today, Hoda, I can look in the mirror and when I’m looking in the mirror, I’m looking at the problem, but I’m also looking at the solution,’ Jamie said.
Looking back: Jamie Lee Curtis, 60, opened up about her decade-long strong with opioid addiction while appearing on the Today show on Thursday morning
Wake-up call: The actress recalled how a close friend caught her downing a handful of Vicodin in her home in December 1998 and told her she was a ‘dead woman’
‘In a family of generational addiction, I can tell you today that the buck stops with me,’ she continued. ‘In that cycle of addiction in a family that has destroyed generation upon generation of families, I am proud to say, so far, today … I’m going to arrest my addiction.’
Jamie covered Variety’s ‘Recovery Issue’ this month, and she spoke candidly with the magazine about her addiction and how she finally got sober.
Hoda, 55, said what struck her most about the interview was how the star’s life looked perfect from the outside, but she was secretly downing fist fulls of pills.
Jamie reflected on the moment her friend, who is a Brazilian healer, caught her putting a handful of Vicodin in her mouth and washing it down with a swig of wine in her home one evening in December 1998.
‘She said, “I see you with your little pills, Jamie, and you think you’re so alive and you think you’re so fabulous, but you’re not. You’re dead. You’re a dead woman,’ the Halloween star recalled. ‘That was really the beginning of me understanding.’
Shortly after, she came across writer Tom Chiarella’s essay Vicodin, My Vicodin in the January 1999 issue of Esquire magazine, which detailed his own addiction to the painkiller.
The beginning: Jamie is pictured with her father Tony Curtis and siblings Benjamin, Kelly, Nicholas, and Allegra in Beverly Hills in 1989, the year she started taking opioids
Secret: Jamie took home a Golden Globe in 1995 at the height of her addiction (left). She said a friend caught her taking a handful of pills in December 1998. She’s pictured in 1998 (right)
‘The combination of my friend seeing me and Tom writing that article, bravely outing himself, is the reason I got sober,’ she told Hoda.
Jamie said it was also the reason she readily agreed to be Variety’s cover girl after the magazine approached her about doing an annual issue about addiction in show business.
Using her platform: Jamie covers Variety’s ‘Recovery Issue’ this month, which focuses on addiction in show business
‘Of course, I said yes, simply because Tom Chiarella did it for me in 1999,’ she said.
The conversation took an interesting turn when Jamie switched gears at the end of the interview and told Hoda that she thinks she should be the leader of the free world.
‘Can I take one second and tell you, I think you should run for president,’ the Scream Queens actress gushed. ‘I think you embody the absolute best because you have little babies at home and you suit up and show up in this incredibly grounded way that makes people feel safe.’
Hoda was visibly overcome with emotion as the legendary actress praised her.
‘It’s the reason they tune you in,’ Jamie continued. ‘I just think you’re an extraordinary example for all of us and I wish you were running because I wish you were the president.’
‘That was a weird ending,’ Hoda joked as she shook her guest’s hand.
As a baby: Jamie told Variety that she and her father Tony (pictured) shared drugs before she got sober in 1999. He died from cardiac arrest in 2010 at the age of 85
Troubled relationship: ‘In a family of generational addiction, I can tell you today that the buck stops with me,’ Jamie said on the Today show
In her recent interview with Variety, Jamie said she still considers herself a ‘junkie’ after 20 years of sobriety and spoke candidly about her past with her father Tony Curtis, who co-starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1959 film Some Like It Hot.
Jamie alleges she did cocaine and freebased with the star before getting clean. Tony died in 2010 at age 85 from cardiac arrest.
‘I knew my dad had an issue because I had an issue and he and I shared drugs,’ she told Variety. ‘There was a period of time where I was the only child that was talking to him. I had six siblings. I have five. My brother, Nicholas, died of a heroin overdose when he was 21 years old.’
The star added, ‘But I shared drugs with my dad. I did cocaine and freebased once with my dad. But that was the only time I did that, and I did that with him.
‘He did end up getting sober for a short period of time and was very active in recovery for about three years. It didn’t last that long. But he found recovery for a minute.’
Throughout most of the interview, Jamie talked about her own struggle Vicodin after being prescribed the painkiller following a routine plastic surgery to remove the puffiness underneath her eyes.
Feeling the love: The conversation took a shift when Jamie told Hoda at the end of the interview that she thinks she should be president
Flattered: Hoda was visibly overcome with emotion as the legendary actress praised her
‘I call myself a junkie,’ she said. ‘I refer to myself as a junkie simply so I demystify it. I call myself a dope-fiend because I’m a dope-fiend.’
While Jamie was on a steady trajectory to become a world-famous star with classic roles in Halloween, A Fish Called Wanda, and True Lies, all was not as it seemed behind the scenes.
‘I was in a good stable marriage, writing books for children that were bestsellers, I was getting more and more work, and more and more fame and attention and adulation … I got more as my addiction got worse, not less,’ she said. ‘My bottom made that denial much more pervasive because it was all working.’
After being caught taking a handful of Vicodin like they were vitamins and reading Tony’s essay in Esquire, she knew she needed to make a change.
‘I called a friend of mine who was in recovery, an old colleague of mine, and I was terrified about being a public figure and walking into recovery centers and being around recovery,’ she said. ‘I was terrified of it.
‘I said to my friend, who was a long time into recovery, “Is there any way somebody famous can meet me and go with me into a recovery room?” And a woman called me. And I met her, somebody I had never met, and she walked in with me and I’ve been sober since that day.’
On the go: Jamie was seen out and about in New York City on Thursday after her live interview
Promotional tour: The actress is busy promoting her knew film Knives Out, which comes out the day before Thanksgiving
While sobriety has its challenges, she’s committed to maintaining her sober lifestyle at any cost.
‘I bring sobriety with me,’ she said. ‘I have attended recovery meetings all over this world. I was probably about nine months sober when I made Freaky Friday.
‘I put a big sign up by the catering truck, and it said, “Recovery meeting in Jamie’s trailer every day.” I left the door open and didn’t know if anybody would show up. We ended up calling it the Mobile Home Recovery Meeting.
She admitted that her trailer talks were probably ‘my favorite grouping of sobriety that’ she’s ever been a part of.
‘I’ve participated in groups all over the world, but there was something about the cross-section of ages and genders and jobs and races, and it was profound,’ she said.
Jamie understands how important it is to remain committed to a program in her on-going battle with recovery.
‘There’s great power that comes from self-declaration: This is who I am, this is what I do, and I am going to try to stop,’ she said. ‘For me to say that the reason my life is so much better is because I am sober is me controlling it. I gave up that information, specifically as a public figure, to acknowledge the reality of my life.’