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‘I Was the Troll in the Basement’: Samuel L. Jackson Reflects on Past Drug Addiction, How His Wife Saved Him and Their Marriage

Samuel L. Jackson has been making the rounds with his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, to promote the couple’s new producing project, “The Last Days of Ptolemy,” on Apple TV. While the couple is one of Hollywood’s shining examples of marital bliss, boasting over 50 years in a relationship, they have had some struggles along the way, most notably Jackson’s addiction.

Jackson has been open about his challenges with drugs in the past. In a 2021 Vanity Fair interview, he shared how he didn’t think that smoking crack was the same thing as smoking cocaine powder.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 10: Samuel L. Jackson speaks onstage during Samuel L. Jackson In Conversation With Josh Horowitz at 92Y on March 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

He said, “People who smoke crack buy rocks. I thought I was freebasing, but as it turns out, it’s the same thing.”

In 1990, Jackson recalled attending the bachelor party of writer-actor-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and getting drunk. He thought he would balance his drunkenness out with cocaine, but was so wasted he passed out before he could cook up his drugs. He said his wife and daughter found him on the floor, still clutching his drugs, and Richardson decided then she would get him help.

A recent interview with People magazine revealed some nuances about his wife’s strength during these dark days, and why she was determined to get him helped.

Jackson says Richardson stayed with him despite his being emotionally unavailable to his family.

“I had basically moved into the basement of our brownstone,” he explained. “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.” 

The Spelmanite would not let her Morehouse man suffer alone and worked to get him into a rehabilitation program, for which he is grateful.

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

Richardson says that was never going to happen on her watch: “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.'”

Jackson went to rehab and sobered up. Since then, he has starred in over 150 movies. Of those films that he has appeared in have grossed $18.5 billion worldwide, making the former addict who lived like a troll in his basement the highest-grossing actor of all time.

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