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Working in the Film Industry is Not So Glamorous

Paparazzi is only one of the downsides of working in the film industry. Paparazzi is only one of the downsides of working in the film industry.

Hollywood movie stars may live in big mansions and drive fancy cars, but the perks of stardom comes at a price – and we’re not talking bling. Working in the film industry is not as glamorous as you might think. Have you ever stopped to think about the downside of being rich and famous?


The flashing lights and shouted questions from paparazzi is a constant part of a famous person’s life – whether they want the attention or not. Could you handle being photographed at your worst? I know I couldn’t. Neither could I stand having every decision I made dissected by the press. We might enjoy reading about Brangelina’s latest adoption in the tabloids, or get our kicks judging whether or not Demi and Ashton should be together – but is it really our place?

Sure, you can say that publicity is all part of the package; it comes with the territory. Most actors know what they’re signing up for. But that still might not make dealing with it any easier.

Besides paparazzi, the other problem stalking those working in the film industry is drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Countless Hollywood actors and actresses are being arrested, sent to jail or rehab, and even losing their lives because of substance abuse.

Actors fall prey to alcohol and drug abuse for a variety of reasons, often as self-medication. Johnny Depp said he felt so intimidated by his celebrity status during his early career, drinking was the only way to cope. “I’d go to functions and back in those days I literally had to be drunk to be able to speak and get through it. I guess I was trying not to feel anything.”

Other actors have made similar statements. In a Psychology Today article, Carrie Fisher said, “Drugs made me feel more normal. They contained me.” Faye Dunaway wrote in her memoir that she used a heavy reliance on food to “counter the stress of filmmaking.” She added once she became part of a more sophisticated world, she turned to alcohol.

Tatum O’Neal, an Oscar winner at age ten, reported that growing up she had to deal with her mentally unstable mother and a volatile father, in an environment of drugs, neglect, and abuse. She was addicted to cocaine by age 20. Michael J. Fox developed a drinking problem after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He wrote “I craved alcohol as a direct response to the need I felt to escape my situation.”

Illness and abuse have been a contributing factor for many actors to start drinking or using drugs, but for some it can be attributed to the simple fact that they have easy access to it. Money and fame can buy a lot of things – including illegal drugs.

Part of the problem is their celebrity status itself. Gary Stromberg, author of “Harder They Fall: Celebrities Tell Their Real-Life Stories of Addiction and Recovery,” told ABC News, “With creative people in general, I think there is more of a tendency to gravitate towards substance abuse.” He added, “They live in a world surrounded by people who adore them and enable them. No one telling them no...They live privileged lives and they don’t play by the same rules as the rest of the world.”

Sarah Jessica Parker would completely agree with this statement. Although she knew her former husband Robert Downey Jr. had a drug problem, she compounded the issue by making excuses for him – in essence enabling him to continue abusing drugs. “Addiction didn’t seem like something that would impose itself on us,” she said. “I was very wrong.”

Thankfully, most actors get help before it’s too late. Although it’s difficult, checking into rehab is the best move anyone with an addiction can make. Melanie Griffith admitted, “Facing my addiction was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.” But as Drew Barrymore relates, rehab can bring incredible relief. “When I came out of there,” she said, “I felt so full of wisdom, so peaceful.”

Not all drug users have been so lucky. John Belushi, River Phoenix, Chris Farley, Anna Nicole Smith, Elvis Presley, Heath Ledger... the list of celebrities who have died of a drug overdose goes on and on. Whether intentional or accidental, these deaths should serve as a wakeup call for anyone abusing drugs.

Hardly a day goes by without tabloids reporting about the sensational lives of Hollywood superstars. But as you look at pictures of Lindsey Lohan being led away in handcuffs, or read about another celebrity narrowly escaping another DUI conviction, are their lives really that glamorous? The spotlight that shines on those working in the film industry will never burn out. But what about the ones caught in that spotlight – will they?

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Should young girls really look up to film stars?
Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2012 13:25

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