There have been so many young actors who have been in rehab that Hollywood might start installing red carpets at the local recovery centers. Pills, drugs, alcohol and other intoxicants have been part of the entertainment scene long before child star Judy Garland was kept working late by MGM management. Garland’s troubled history finally made her persona non grata in the industry, but these days a stint, or several, seems like just another Hollywood rite of passage. Here are some of the saddest and most surprising cases of young actors in rehab.
The delightful Ms. Barrymore is probably the youngest actor who has been in rehab. At only thirteen she sought treatment after spending her late childhood starring in films and nightclubbing at Studio 54. In her autobiography Little Girl Lost, she described smoking marijuana at twelve and quickly progressing to cocaine. It took a suicide attempt and another stint in rehab at fourteen before Barrymore maintained her sobriety. Two decades later, she confesses to drinking the occasional glass of wine. She also balances an impressive acting career with behind-the-scenes work as a director and producer.
Few young actors begin their careers as early as Mary-Kate Olsen (born 1986), who was only nine months-old when she first shared the role of Michelle on Full House with her twin Ashley. After Full House ended its eight year run, the sisters formed a popular and profitable tween franchise with movies, specials and merchandising. Olsen had just celebrated her eighteenth birthday when she entered a Utah rehabilitation facility in 2004. Although tabloids pointed to drugs, her publicists insisted anorexia nervosa was the issue. A healthier Olsen emerged six weeks later, and there have been no return rehab stints. Olsen found solo acting success in some feature films and a recurring role of Showtime’s Weeds. She has also formed two fashion lines, The Row and Elizabeth and James with sister Ashley.
Only 38 years-old when he overdosed in 2010, Corey Haim had entered rehab a total of fifteen times before his death. Haim, born in 1971, became a teen idol in the late 1980s, following his performances in Lucas and The Lost Boys. His lopsided smile and adorable face made him an ongoing cover boy for teen magazines like Tiger Beat. He later admitted that his party lifestyle led to a crack addiction during the filming of 1988’s License To Drive. Then, at the age of eighteen, he entered rehab. He did manage to quit cocaine, but unfortunately just swapped it for an addiction to prescription medications. He spent the next two decades trying to get clean, but was found to have procured 532 pills in the month before he died, including Valium, Vicodin and Xanax.
One child star who has helped give rehabilitation the reputation of a revolving door is Lindsay Lohan. Once a successful Disney star in wholesome flicks like The Parent Trap, she seemed to be handling the transition to adult roles with a sophisticated turn in Mean Girls. Her partying quickly overshadowed her early promise, as endless tabloid stories documented her love of the nightlife. Then, the California court system became involved as DUIs, car wrecks and other criminal incidents have piled up. Lohan’s status as an actress and a recovering addict remain uncertain.
Robert Downey Jr.
The most talented of the young actors who’ve been to rehab, or at least the most inspiring, is the Robert Downey Jr. He was just 22 when he made his first trip to rehab, following a Hollywood childhood where his director father reportedly gave him his first drugs at eight years-old. Downey’s long, tortured journey continued through drug dependence, jail stints, and very public falls off the wagon. His most astonishing drug-addled moment came in 1996 when he wandered into a neighbor’s house in Malibu and fell asleep in a child’s bed. After a year-long stint in Corcoran State Prison, Downey finally sobered up. He has since made a slow but steady climb back to the very top of the Hollywood heap, including starring in a blockbuster Ironman franchise and gaining an Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder.