Welcome back to our ongoing exploration of the weedy world of high-flying Hollywood hempsters. From party animals to medical users, from proud puffers to hempen hypocrites, this issue we reveal the secret stoner ways of over 30 of your favorite stars!
We begin this issue's out-fest with Rodney Dangerfield, who celebrated his 81st birthday party last November. The caustic comedian also celebrated another victory ? he now has a doctor's recommendation to smoke medical pot.
Dangerfield made National Enquirer headlines in September 2002, when he suffered a heart attack and his wife Joan rushed him to the hospital. Dangerfield sparked up a joint while changing his clothes in the intensive care unit, gaining him a scolding from hospital staff and his wife. "Marijuana calms Rodney's nerves," his spokesman told the media, adding that he had received hundreds of calls in support of his client's toking ways.
Dangerfield might have been aware that toking up after a heart attack can be helpful. Studies have found that THC and other cannabinoids can protect brain cells and reduce the severity of damage caused by a heart attack or stroke (CC#16, Marijuana protects your brain.)
Dangerfield discusses his chronic pot use in his new biography It's Not Easy Bein' Me, which should be in bookstores soon. "For years he's suffered from painful angina," said an anonymous friend quoted in the National Enquirer. "Smoking pot controls his pain and helps to relax him better than any pills or shots."
From Rodney Dangerfield we can connect the canna-celebrities in a seemingly endless chain which stretches in some surprising directions. Hollywood should be renamed "Hollyweed" with the number of heavy tokers who have made it big in the entertainment industry.
One of Dangerfield's earliest and best known films was Caddyshack, where he shared the screen with Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, among others.
In the film, set on a golf course, Murray and Chase share a huge "Bob Marley" joint of a strain of grass which Murray's character has developed. "The amazing stuff about this is," says Murray, "you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, then take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus belt that night."
In real life, Murray's aspirations of becoming a doctor dissolved when he was arrested for possession of marijuana as a youth. So we can thank pot prohibition for keeping Murray from saving lives, instead setting him up to kill us with comedy.
Like Murray, Chevy Chase's career took off during his time on Saturday Night Live. One of Chase's many pot-related sketches from the show was included in the 1999 pot-documentary Grass.
During a 1978 Weekend Update segment, Chase warned his viewers that the FBI claimed "killer grass" had been smuggled into New York. "The warning symptoms include a mild euphoria, a slight rise in the pulse rate, some hallucinations, and death by laughter within 15 minutes of ingestion." Chase urged his viewers to send in their samples for his personal safety analysis.
In 1994, Chase was unsuccessfully sued for $10 million by his driver from the film Man of the House. The driver, Fred Moroz, claimed that Chase had twice made him cross the US border from where the film was being shot in Canada, to retrieve packages for him. On the second trip Moroz was stopped by customs and arrested when it was found the package contained the prescription painkiller Percocet, illegal to bring across the border. Although charges against Moroz were dropped, he sued for having to go through detention and strip-searches because of Chase.
Natural born stoners
The first link in our chain from Dangerfield to the spider-web of celeb stoners is none of the above, but rather director Oliver Stone, who cast Dangerfield as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis in his 1994 film, Natural Born Killers. The violent flick also starred hempster Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.
Juliette Lewis started toking up when she was 13, but now seems to regret it. In an interview with Shout magazine, Lewis said "I was a pothead for so many years. I think pot is so insidious, it burns all your creative fire, it makes you paranoid." She dismissed legalization, saying "Maybe there is some rational logic to the legalization idea, but I could never support that. It's such a cop-out, in a way. I do not want to be outside and have people smoking pot and being high around me. That energy is just totally annoying to me. You know?"
Yet despite her dislike of being around stoners, Lewis managed to cope while being on set with hardcore tokers like Stone, Harrelson and Downey Jr.
Oliver Stone first started toking and tripping during his 15-month tour in Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. "If it hadn't been for marijuana and my black brothers in Vietnam," said Stone in a recent interview with Konch, "I don't think I'd be the same person, I don't think I'd be alive."
"That's why I did the bunker scene in Platoon, the bit with Elias and the shotgun reefer," added Stone. "Vietnamese grass is one of the most powerful, transforming herbs in the world. When I got high on that stuff, listening to Smokey, that's when I began to understand that life is sacred, that life has great vibrancy, which, in my case, was a perception I couldn't get out of."
In 1968, shortly after his return from the war, he did a short time in jail, for being caught re-entering the Mexican border with two ounces of buds. Stone even admits to having sneakily slipped his wealthy father some LSD, "during a weekend visit to one of his rich friends in South Hampton."
Stone continued to be an avid cannabis consumer for all his award-winning career, with no further legal problems until 1999, when he entered a drug rehab program to avoid prison. Stone had been busted for driving with his blood-alcohol level over the limit, and cops had found hash in his car, along with muscle-relaxants and a few other pharmaceuticals.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the felony drug charges if Stone entered a rehab program. Like the hundreds of thousands of other Americans forced into treatment for their "marijuana addiction," Stone cynically did the program and then merrily continued on his toking ways.
Cannabis and other mind-expanders have played a prominent role in many of Stone's films. From Tom Cruise toking up in Born on the Fourth of July to Woody Harrelson tripping on mushrooms in Natural Born Killers, to Val Kilmer taking mushrooms in The Doors, and so on.
Oliver Stone was also a signatory to an ad which appeared in the March 6, 2002 New York Times. The ad promoted legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, and was endorsed by dozens of religious leaders, over 300 elected officials from 42 states, and stacks of celebrities, including Bill Maher, Richard Pryor, Anjelica Huston, Hugh Downs, Walter Cronkite, Michelle Phillips, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sharon Stone, Lily Tomlin and many others.
From any of these celebrities we could leap into whole constellations of stoner stars. For example, we could go with Sharon Stone, who in a 1999 Movieline interview said that marijuana was "terrific" and should be legalized. Or we could go with Richard Pryor, who currently uses marijuana to ease the symptoms of his multiple sclerosis. (Another famous MS patient who uses medicinal pot is David Lander, best known for playing Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley.)
In September 1999, Hugh Downs stepped down as co-anchor of ABC's investigative news show 20/20. In a subsequent interview with Barbara Walters, Downs explained that he was a libertarian and advocated the legalization of marijuana. He told her that he didn't push those ideas while working at ABC because when he tried "the roof fell on me so hard that I decided to back off."
Or we could choose Lily Tomlin, who appears in The West Wing, which is the creation of Emmy award winning writer Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin began writing in 1986, the same year he began using marijuana and cocaine. In describing cocaine, Sorkin said "I found a drug I absolutely love, and that gave me a real break from a certain nervous tension that I kind of carry with me moment to moment."
Sorkin got busted in 2001 at the Burbank airport for possession of marijuana, psilocybe mushrooms and cocaine in his carry-on bag. The metal detector had revealed his small pipe, prompting a further search and the bust. Sorkin had a panic attack and fainted before police handcuffed him and carried him away.
Sorkin has worked drugs into many of his scripts. For example, near the beginning of the first episode of The West Wing, a high-priced call girl, later shown to be intelligent and strong-willed, greets the day by lighting up a joint and saying: "It's not like I'm a drug person. I just love pot."
As for Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, she told the World Entertainment News Network in 2001 that "Marijuana should definitely be legalized. I think we should let everyone smoke it without fear of being thrown in jail. It's the greatest drug in the world!"
But let's go with Susan Sarandon, who has actually done some good things for her fellow members of the cannabis culture. Maybe it's because she was a friend of Timothy Leary's that she maintains her political activism alongside her acting career. In the 1998 movie Stepmom, Sarandon insisted on the inclusion of scenes which showed her character having to find and use marijuana to help alleviate the effects of chemotherapy.
Her co-star Ed Harris likely approved of her pro-pot stance. In a 2001 interview with My Generation, Harris explained how it was marijuana which led him to acting. In high school, Harris was a popular football captain and wanted to turn professional. "And then I go to Columbia," said Harris, "and there's, you know, SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] and marijuana and I didn't do anything like that in high school. You start experimenting, you start thinking about things a little bit differently and you realize you've got to do something else with your life. I stopped playing ball. I'd seen some summer theater in Oklahoma, and I thought maybe I could do that."
Stepmom's other co-star was Julia Roberts, who like many celebrities denies being a current toker, but some evidence seems to show otherwise. A 2001 issue of Esquire features a chat between Roberts and her Ocean's Eleven co-star George Clooney, in which Roberts asks a waiter "Are we allowed to smoke marijuana in here?" Roberts quickly retracted her candid question, claiming "I don't really smoke dope. I smoked dope twice. It made me too sleepy."
"I used to shoot marijuana," replied Clooney jokingly. "It was really different. It was hard to get it in the syringe."
One of Sarandon's most popular films was Thelma and Louise, which was the first breakthrough movie for heavy toker Brad Pitt. Another actor who got a start in that film was Michael Madsen, now best known for playing the psychopathic "Mr Blonde" in the 1992 Reservoir Dogs.
Apparently Pitt and Madsen were stoned during most of their scenes in Thelma & Louise (and quite possibly every movie they've made since.) In a 2001 interview with Premiere magazine, Madsen bluntly described his daily ritual during filming: "Brad and I would stand around in the morning and get stoned out of our minds waiting for the van to come take us to the set."
Sarandon's husband, actor Tim Robbins, is also politically active and open about his pro-pot stance. The couple appeared at the 2000 Shadow Convention which focused heavily on America's failed drug war, along with other stars like Al Franken, Bill Maher and David Crosby.
In a 1994 Playboy interview, Robbins was candid about his views on cannabis, saying he strongly backed legalization. When asked "What would you say if your kids came to you one day and said, 'Dad, did you ever take drugs in the 60's and 70's?'" Robbins replied "I would say, 'no, it was in the 80's.'"
Tim Robbins is not to be confused with Tom Robbins, the author of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Still Life With Woodpecker and many other classic books. Tom Robbins also signed on to the New York Times ad mentioned above, and also appeared at the shadow conventions. Like Tim, Tom Robbins has a long-standing connection to the cannabis culture. He hung out with Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg, and was a close friend to DMT-guru Terence McKenna, calling him "the most brilliant man I have ever met." Robbins wrote the the introduction for one of McKenna's books, The Archaic Revival.
Yet instead of all of these options, we'll jump from Sarandon to Goldie Hawn, as the pair appeared together in 2002's The Banger Sisters. In the movie, Hawn and Sarandon play adult women who were slutty stoner groupies during the golden age of classic rock.
Goldie Hawn makes her home in Vancouver, Canada's cannabis capital, where she lives with her husband Kurt Russell, a self-described "libertarian." The family is also known to enjoy nudism.
According to Hollywood gossip magazines, Hawn has been toking up with her daughter Kate Hudson since she was a teenager, and they even continue to share the same dealer. So it's no surprise that Hudson is married to Chris Robinson, singer for the pro-pot band The Black Crowes. The Black Crowes have always incorporated pot into their music and decor; in the early 90's you could even get official Black Crowes rolling papers.
In 2001, Hudson told the World Entertainment News Network that marijuana can be used "in amazing ways" and that it is best used "to enhance, not forget."
Yet like many toking celebrities, Hawn and Hudson are shy about publicly admitting to their stoner ways. In the same interview, Hudson was asked if she currently tokes, and she replied evasively. "Well... I don't have a problem with people who smoke it," said Hudson cautiously. "If people want to smoke pot, I say go ahead."
Hawn has hypocritically denied her toking ways in an interview with ABC News, when she described playing her character in The Banger Sisters. "I wish I could say I drew from knowledge or experience," said Hawn, "but I wasn't a stoner... it just wasn't my world."
Despite her denials, Hawn isn't the only Hollywood hottie who's toked up with her kids. A few years back Melanie Griffith told the media she would smoke pot with her kids if they wanted.
"My thinking was that it would be better for him to do it at home than to go out on the street," explained Griffith.
Sounds good so far, but Griffith seemed a bit confused as to what she expected to happen after she let her teenage son sample a joint with her. "I thought it was a good idea, but ultimately it wasn't," she told the media in October 2002. "I did it and it backfired. He liked it!"
Once she realized her eldest child wanted to keep smoking the magic herb, she declared him an addict and marched him into "The Program" which uses a 12-step system like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Griffith is likely projecting her own battles with alcohol and prescription drugs onto her son's more innocent toking ways. Griffith has been into detox herself in 1988 and again in 2000, first for alcohol and then for prescription painkillers. We'd suggest that Griffith follow her son's good example and just stick to the wacky weed.
Another actor who smoked pot with his parents is Matt Damon. In a recent interview with the British media, Damon explained that his first time toking up was with his mom and stepdad, when he was 16 years old. Damon explained that he was grateful to have been introduced to the herb in this fashion.
Matt Damon's best buddy is Ben Affleck. In an online chat with his fans in 1999, Affleck was asked his opinion on pot legalization. "I don't smoke it, so I don't really care that much," wrote the actor. "If it were legalized it would probably raise some money for the state and federal governments, instead of it all going to growers in Humboldt county or wherever, and probably would be less enticing, ironically, because it wouldn't be taboo. I think it should certainly be made readily available to folks for whom there is a legitimate medicinal need. To not do that is absurd bio-chemical puritanism."
While Affleck's comments on med-pot are laudable, can we really believe that Matt Damon's childhood friend, the guy who appeared in two roles in stoner flick Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and who is engaged to Puff Daddy's ex-girlfriend, has never partaken himself?
Affleck is currently fighting for justice as the Daredevil. Although Daredevil has no direct cannabis connections, some have wondered if Daredevil's fellow comic-book hero Spider-Man is dating a symbolic pot reference. Yet creator Stan Lee claims that naming Spidey's girlfriend "Mary Jane" had nothing to do with the herb. "I swear, I never smoked marijuana," said Lee in the May 2002 issue of Maxim. "When I named Spider-Man's girlfriend Mary Jane, it was only after a while that somebody said, 'You're pretty nervy giving her the nickname of marijuana.' I had no idea that's what it was."
Affleck has been engaged to Jennifer Lopez since November. Lopez has toked on screen and off. In her 2000 film The Cell, Lopez plays a psychologist who, after a particularly gruelling session, is shown at home relaxing and smoking a joint.
One of Lopez's most successful film roles came in 2001 with The Wedding Planner, where she starred opposite Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey was busted for pot possession in 1999 after cops responded to a noise complaint at his home and found him nude, playing the bongos, bong at his side (CC#38, Celebrity stoners).
In 2001, Lopez's head of security was busted at Toronto's Pearson airport with pot and hash in his socks. Lopez and her entourage had arrived in a private jet, and were immediately detained and searched, while a sniffer dog searched the plane. A customs spokesman said Lopez was red-flagged because of her past relationship with reefer rapster Sean "Puffy" Combs. The security head wasn't charged, and we're guessing Lopez and her crew managed to score some fine replacement weed on the streets of Toronto.
Lopez and Affleck will be starring together in Kevin Smith's newest film, Jersey Girl, to be released in November 2003. Smith is a toker who has appeared in High Times and features the pot-dealing duo of Jay and Silent Bob in many of his movies.
The Jersey Girl cast includes comedian George Carlin, who in a September 2002 HBO Special explained that he still tokes, but not as much as he used to. "I'm not a big pot user anymore," said Carlin, "but I always have a joint somewhere near me." He went on to describe how he uses marijuana to work on his comedic routines. "When I write, I write it all out, straight and sober... then the next day, one hit is all I need now, and it's punch-up time! Time to get this thing going!"
Jersey Girl also stars Bruce Willis, who was busted for pot possession when he was in college. "I rolled two joints, stuck one behind each ear, had a beer in my hand and was going to my friend's house," explained Willis in a 1988 Playboy interview. "I was on the street when a cop stopped me for having a beer in my hand. He reached up behind my ear and goes, 'What's this?' I said, 'Oops, that's a joint.' Slapped the cuffs on me and marched me down to the police station. I was put on probation for six months."
Willis claimed that he had finally stopped both toking and drinking that year. That was just after he had gotten together with Demi Moore and became a family man. Moore herself was also a toker when she was younger. She was married to rocker Freddy Moore for four years beginning when she was 18. She even got temporarily fired from the set of St Elmo's Fire because she showed up too whacked out on cocaine to work.
It's safe to bet that pot smoke and alcohol have passed Willis' lips since he swore off in '88. In 1997, the beginning of his post-Moore period, Willis dated wild porn star Alisha Klass, who got her start with Seymore Butts. Klass starred in a number of Butts' films, including High from Europe, where she paid an on-camera visit to the Bulldog coffeeshop, smoking Superpolm hash before getting down and dirty. Later in the movie she repeatedly tokes on big joints while engaging in other carnal pleasures.
So there you have it. From Rodney Dangerfield to Seymore Butts, we've plumbed the depths of stoner celebrityhood once again.
With the plumes of pot smoke hovering over Hollywood, it's clear that those who entertain us on screens both big and small are baked out of their gourds most of the time. Let's hope more of them use their awesome powers and fabulous wealth to help end the drug war which could bring the bummer into their otherwise endless pot party!