Jason Isaacs is reflecting on his journey with substance abuse and addiction in a new interview with The Big Issue as part of the publication's "Letter to My Younger Self" series. The actor, 57, who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, opened up about how his "addictive personality" turned an early experience with alcohol into a "decades-long love affair with drugs."
"Every action was filtered through a burning need I had for being as far from a conscious, thinking, feeling person as possible," he continued. "No message would get through for nearly 20 years." Isaacs recalled first getting drunk at the age of 12, which the star said was the first step along the path to addiction. "The barman, who we thought at the time was a hero and I now realize belonged in prison, sneaked us a full bottle of Southern Comfort," he remembered. "We drank the entire thing in the toilet, then staggered out into the party, reeling around farcically. I vomited, fell on and pulled down a giant curtain, snogged a girl, god bless her… ran out into the street, vomited again, tripped, smashed my head open on the pavement and gushed blood all over my clothes."
The next morning, Isaacs said he woke with a "splitting headache" and "stinking of puke" with a "huge scab and the memory of having utterly shamed myself," but regardless couldn't wait to have another experience like that as soon as possible. "Why? I've no idea," he asked. "Genes? Nurture? Star sign? I just know I chased the sheer ecstatic joy I felt that night for another 20 years with increasingly dire consequences."
Isaacs explained that at the depths of his addiction, he felt he was "broken," before working through his issues and beginning to realize "that's not true and never was." On the other side of his darkest moments, the British actor can say, "I love, I feel, I connect, I care. We all do. The drugs weren't a way of dealing with that sense of distance, the drugs were causing it." Sending a message to his past self, Isaacs said the younger him would be shocked to learn he had overcome his addiction. "I think what would surprise the 16-year-old me is that I'm okay. That I manage to find simple happiness in simple things," he added. "Not always, not perfectly, but enough."