Actors Who’ve Shared Their Struggles With Mental Health

The pursuit of Hollywood success has led many
performers to experience a crisis serious enough that they sought professional help
to preserve and strengthen their mental health. More and more, actors are opening up about
how therapy allowed them to handle some terrifying moments in their careers. Michael B. Jordan’s performance as the villainous
Erik “Killmonger” Stevens in the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther was so arresting, some critics
felt it overshadowed Chadwick Boseman’s lead role as King T’Challa of Wakanda, better known
as the Black Panther. Jordan dove deep to portray Killmonger, T’Challa’s
militant, long-lost cousin, but it seems his star turn as the charismatic anti-hero came
at a price. Jordan explained in an interview with Bill
Simmons that he had never spent as much time inhabiting a character who was, quote, “that
dark, that lonely, that painful.” “All this death… just so I can kill you.” The actor found it hard to let those feelings
go. He told Simmons, “Once I got finished wrapping the movie, it
took me some time to talk through how I was feeling, and why I was feeling so sad, and
like a little bit depressed.” Psychotherapist Robin Halpern is familiar
with this phenomenon, and explained that the intensity of these same roles can lead to
difficulty in separating the actor’s feelings form the character. She explained that this is especially difficult
when the characters are dealing with something that the actors themselves are sensitive to,
with a performance that taps into their own feelings. “Burn it all!” Indeed, Jordan later said, “[Killmonger is] an extreme, exaggerated version
of the African diaspora from the African-American perspective, so to be able to take that kind
of pain and rage and all those emotions that Erik kind of represents from being black and
brown here in America […] that was something I didn’t take lightly.” When Jordan realized he was still carrying
Killmonger’s pain and isolation into his personal life, he sought out professional help, and
while he acknowledged the cultural stigma that men in particular face about mental health
treatment, he also spoke about how it truly helped him. Since his debut in Captain America: The First
Avenger, Chris Evans has embodied the never-say-die attitude and moral center of the Marvel Universe’s
Steve Rogers, but he almost didn’t take the role. When talking about how he dealt with mental
illness, Evans discussed his anxiety, which was so intense that it actually led him to
turn down the role of Captain America when it was initially offered. Instead of embracing a deal for six films,
a massive commitment that is surely the dream of most working actors, Evans was obsessively
focused on his fears. “And if I’m the only one, then so be it…
but I’m willing to bet I’m not.” Afraid of losing his anonymity and being unable
to cope with the demands of fame amidst a role that would span ten years of his life,
Evans turned to his therapist for advice, saying, “I asked every human being in my life what
they thought, and they said I should do the movie, and then I went to therapy.” Sure enough, after working through his anxiety
with a professional, he was able to come to a realization that taking the risk might be
worth it. Evans is thankful that therapy enabled him
to take on the role that made him famous, but he’s also grateful that his fear pushed
him to seek help, and even said that if he hadn’t taken the role of Captain America,
he might have never sought help for his anxiety. Jared Padalecki has spent well over a decade
hunting angels, demons, and too many other paranormal entities to list as Sam Winchester
in Supernatural. However, none of those fictional battles,
or the fame that came with them, prepared him for a struggle with depression. While shooting a Christmas episode for the
show’s third season, Padalecki was overcome by a depressive episode so serious he found
himself unable to move. “I walked into my trailer, sat down on the
couch, and I couldn’t get up. I could no longer, on my own, muster the will
to carry on.” Costar Jensen Ackles took one look at Padalecki
and knew his TV brother needed some help, so he called the on-set doctor, who diagnosed
Padalecki with clinical depression. Instead of seeking treatment, Padalecki only
took a few days off from filming, both because he was concerned that any longer breaks would
negatively affect the livelihoods of the show’s crew, and also because of his difficulty in
admitting his own troubles. It took until just before the start of Supernatural’s
11th season for him to break down. During a stopover in Geneva on his way to
some convention appearances, he found himself sobbing uncontrollably in a public park, deeply
depressed. A timely phone call from a friend convinced
Padalecki to make it home to his family, where he finally was able to take a break and get
the help that he needed. In the end, Padalecki applied the same logic
to mental health that he did to physical health. Reasoning that if he wanted to get in peak
physical shape he’d employ a personal trainer, he knew he needed to do something similar
to get in shape mentally. He’s carried those lessons forward, starting
the “Always Keep Fighting” campaign to raise funds for a charity that aims to give help
to people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has broken barriers
in its depiction of mental health issues, showing compassion for the difficulties of
its central character as she grapples with the negative behaviors associated with her
eventual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. “Just a couple questions …how did I get
BBD? Is BBD curable? How serious is BBD? Is BBD easy to fix? Is BBD genetic? Did I get BBD from my mother? I got it from my mother right? That tone is something that Rachel Bloom,
co-creator and star of the series, prioritized along with her co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna. In the kind of synchronicity that you’d expect
from a scripted series, it was the process of pitching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that led Bloom
to be kinder to herself and seek out a psychiatrist for the first time. Her anxiety had led to insomnia so intense
that Bloom began to become delirious, leading her to be afraid that her lack of sleep would
ruin her chances of getting what would ultimately become a very personal show picked up by the
network. That, in turn, led her to a psychiatrist,
and to work that was genuinely transformative. “Yeah the verdict’s in I am officially medically
certifiably quote unquote … crazy.” Bloom would later say, “In his office I finally felt safe. […] I told him everything. Each session improved my life.” It was also educational. While she was initially reluctant to use medication
to help treat her mental illness, she had fears that they were something to be ashamed
of, or a sign of weakness. After seeking treatment herself, she admitted
that those first feelings were wrong, which led to a musical number in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s
fourth season, appropriately titled “Antidepressants Are So Not a Big Deal.” When Kit Harrington won the part of Jon Snow
on Game of Thrones in 2010, he couldn’t have known that the show would be a massive success,
or the level of scrutiny it would bring to his life. A relative unknown with only a few admittedly
impressive theater credits, Harrington was thrust into the spotlight that would follow
him for the next decade. As Jon Snow found himself at the center of
the battle to rule over the fictional kingdom of Westeros, pressure mounted on the young
actor. When Harrington broke his foot after a night
of drinking before the start of season three, John Bradley, who plays Snow’s friend Samwell
Tarly, told Rolling Stone that Harrington’s serious approach to his craft left him down
about disappointing his coworkers. In 2017, Harrington discussed his character’s
death and resurrection with the New York Times, and the interviewer noted that it seemed Jon
Snow hadn’t yet come to terms with the strange situation. Harrington replied that while our world acknowledges
that opening up and solving problems through therapy is a very positive thing, that’s not
really an option for the King in the North in his world of dire wolves and dragons. Even if it was, it seems doubtful that the
character would’ve pursued it. As Harrington put it, Jon Snow isn’t exactly
comfortable opening up. “I don’t want it. I never have.” Fortunately, that’s not a trait that Harrington
shares with his character, and he later revealed that he was seeking treatment himself. Following Jon’s rebirth, Harrington was struggling
with feelings of vulnerability and doubts about his own talent, even despite his success,
and that led him to therapy. Child star. Teen idol. Talk show host. Peacock. Donny Osmond has been all these things and
many more in a career that has spanned over five decades. His version of the song “Puppy Love” topped
the Billboard music charts in 1972, and he’d be back at the top again with “Soldier of
Love” in 1989. In 2008, he began an 11-year residency in
Las Vegas, performing with his sister Marie Osmond. In 2019, he found himself in the spotlight
in a new way, as the runner-up finalist in the Masked Singer competition, in which he
was disguised in a full-body costume to compete against other masked celebrity singers. It wasn’t the first time Osmond had donned
a colorful costume to sing his heart out. In 1999, he starred in a film adaption of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The role came during a difficult point in
his life, when the pressure to deliver the kind of performance that would cement his
adult career was fierce. In an interview in 2000, he spoke about the
intensity that would lead to a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder, saying “I thought I was actually going crazy in my
mind. I remember shaking in bed, and I just couldn’t
get out of bed. Something was wrong, and my wife took me to
the hospital.” The film’s producers brought in a therapist
to work with the star, who taught Osmond to engage with his concerns rather than trying
to ignore or get away from them. Osmond’s work in therapy helped him to cope
with the fear he still fights against today. In 2013, Marvel Studios announced that Chris
Pratt would star in Guardians of the Galaxy. The deal made a leading man out of Pratt,
but triggered a period of depression that would ultimately threaten the life of another
actor who had been considered for the part: Zachary Levi. Speaking to Men’s Journal, the eventual star
of 2019’s Shazam! recalled that losing the role to Pratt was a blow to his self-worth,
and one of the factors that, quote, “drove me into darkness.” Levi had struggled with self-esteem since
childhood, rooted in an upbringing that saw him and his sisters suffering the effects
of being raised by a mother who had herself been abused psychologically throughout her
life. Levi continued to pursue his career, but his
mental health continued to suffer. In 2016, he flew to Australia to reprise his
role as Fandral in Thor: Ragnarok, only to see most of his work end up on the cutting
room floor. It didn’t help that around the same time,
his brief marriage imploded and his mother died. He would later say that, “I felt very beat up by Hollywood. I was at a place in my life where I didn’t
really understand why I wanted to live anymore.” Instead of giving in to the pain of depression,
Levi reached out for help. He sent himself to a three-week mental health
retreat in Connecticut, where he saw a psychotherapist and a behavioral therapist in addition to
learning meditation techniques, therapy that he said, quote, “saved my life.” It was there he received word he’d been called
back for Shazam!. He filmed his audition on his phone from the
retreat, A week after completing the program, Levi was being fitted for his Shazam costume. If you or anyone you know is having suicidal
thoughts, please call or chat online with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
1-800-273-TALK (8255).

43 thoughts on “Actors Who’ve Shared Their Struggles With Mental Health

  1. Lesson: Being actor in #1 movie franchise always leads to mental illness
    1. Star Wars (Mark Hamill, Hayden Christensen, Carrie Fisher, Ahmed Best & many more)
    2. Bond (Daniel Craig)
    3. Marvel cinematic universe (Chris Evan, Michael B. Jordan & Terrence Howard and Possibly Brie Larson)
    4. Indiana Jones(Shia LaBeouf & River Phoenix)

  2. Their paid liars, that have a hard time seeing reality from fantasy. Yet they are portrayed as stable individuals. Yet their main job is to be a paid liar.

  3. Shit I'd have a mental breakdown too if my character arc of ten years ended like that too just to look bitch made.

  4. I can see how dressing up, standing in front of a green screen and reading lines someone else wrote could be the most soul crushing occupation a human can have ?

  5. I felt Killmongers pain…. I wanted him to win in a different way. You need therapy just from watching the news these days.

  6. Wow. All these actors need a the rapist to cope with being a millionaire with hundreds of thousands of fans. That must be so devastating.

  7. just makes you think that even celebrities are really just human like the rest of us and have the same problems as we do we tend to forget that

  8. The struggle as a adult with mental health is something else that people sometimes carelessly say, "Deal with it." SMH.

  9. I know thousands of people by name. I can safely say not one of them doesn't have a touch of mental health issues which need addressing.

  10. What is it about actors and other creatives throughout history that causes them to suffer from mental health issues? It seems to be more prevalent among actors than other types of artists, although I've known a number of both actors and other artists who suffer mental health issues. Would it have anything to do with never being truly themselves because they're trying to be other people all of the time? Are they not comfortable being who they are? What is it?

  11. Mass kudos to these celebs for becoming true heroes. Especially the men. We still have too much of an attitude that minimizes mental health issues as being as serious as cancer, AIDS or other physical afflictions. Men are still being told to be strong, suck it up or stop being a pussy when it comes to mental issues. I promote the positive aspects of counseling and medical attention to friends, family and coworkers often.

  12. I deal with high anxiety and OCD and a bit of depression every day. When I was in high school in the 90's I was obese and got punched up for my size and also because of my low I.Q. I wanted to become an actor when I was 15 because movies have always been my passion, then in my early 20's I started to get interested in behind the scenes of movies and wanted to become a director but because I went on a diet which led to me losing weight very fast I got obsessed with calories which led to anorexia and then bulimia which now I'm over but now I have thyroid issues and physical pain from my past eating disorders. I'm almost 38 and my dream has never come true to be a director. I also have learning disabilities which I got bullied for as well. Having OCD and anxiety since I was 12 has been hard and I've seen numerous therapist for over 20 years. I'm not trying to make people feel sorry for me, I'm just expressing myself.

  13. Wow… To hear every story of successfull celebrities who lose their will to live is so powerful. It helps to know you are not alone with your struggles with life, and for a pretty lonely guy like me, it feels good

  14. This video will give people dealing with mental health issues the courage to seek help with their mental health issues.

  15. Thank you for making this. I’m a therapist and I like to use this to show my clients that other people have similar experiences of depression, anxiety, etc. I’m happy that people are more willing to talk about mental health. It’s just was important as physical and dental health.

    FYI-People in crisis can text 741 741 as well. Or go to their nearest emergency room for help.

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