In a new profile, the Atlanta star opened up about his alcohol addiction and how Curtis helped him through his sobriety journey.
In a new profile in GQ, Lakeith Stanfield spoke openly about what can be seen as a turning point in his stardom, the controversies he’s been embroiled in throughout the past year, and what to expect from the new season of Atlanta. But Stanfield was most vulnerable in talking about his decision to get sober — and how iconic actress Jamie Lee Curtis helped him in the process.
Last year, Stanfield, a breakout star from Atlanta who was nominated for an Oscar last year for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah, posted on Instagram about the “crippling anxiety” he was facing while filming the Netflix western The Harder They Fall. It turns out, he reveals in the profile, he was coming to terms around that time with alcohol addiction. He recalls experiencing the “onset of alcohol withdrawal. I had become completely dependent upon it. To the point where I wasn’t able to move or function a whole day without having it.”
The revelations are the first time Stanfield has spoken publicly about his struggles with addiction. “This is something I never really had talked about before, but I think it’s something that I need to talk about, because I want people to understand that it’s something that you can get through, that it’s something that you can get past,” Stanfield said. “And I want people to feel empowered by the fact that the person they’re looking at on that screen has gone through addiction and survived it.”
Stanfield has experienced a version of this empowerment himself, through Curtis of all people. The piece reveals how the two became quickly close while filming Knives Out together: [D]espite not sharing any scenes together, their first interaction, which came when Stanfield took a cigarette break, was charged. “I probably said something to the effect of ‘You’re a gorgeous, talented, smart, young father with huge opportunities ahead of you: Don’t fuck it up by dying of cancer that you can prevent,” she recalls, laughing. They both wept. Stanfield quit smoking.
When Curtis heard about Stanfield getting sober, she reached out. “My experience is that when you feel you are alone, that’s a very scary feeling,” Curtis says. “So what I was trying to say to him was, ‘You are not alone. And if I can be a source of comfort or understanding, then I hope you will allow me to do that.’” He did, with the two of them exchanging texts and calls as he continued to work. One moment sticks with him. “She asked me, ‘How old are you?’” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Uh, about to be 30.’ And she said, ‘No, how old are you from when you became sober?’” He replied: “‘Oh, I’m about seven months.’ And she goes, ‘You’re seven months old. I am 23 years old.’”
Despite Stanfield’s openness about his sobriety, he also addressed his need to be more careful about his words and his struggles with public perception after wading through controversies in the past year that have resulted in some calling him potentially antisemitic and anti-vax. “I think the main takeaway is that I need to be careful about what I say and what I put out, because there is such weight surrounding my words now, and people can take them out of context,” Stanfield said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s completely false. The fact that it’s there and in the ether affects my career. It affects me as a human being, being perceived the wrong way. And I don’t really care too much about what nobody thinks, but I don’t like when motherfuckers got me fucked up. You feel me?”
He was also cautiously vague about what to expect from the final new seasons of Atlanta that are both slated to air this year, but claimed that the new episodes will be wilder than anything we could imagine. “You all got a lot of shit coming in your direction,” he said. “Now it’s the Blackest, the most surreal, the most hilarious. I say this shit with no fear, because I already know what it's going to be: the most unexpected thing you have ever seen. But the truth is, it’s becoming hard to make shit up, because the actual reality is crazier than the shit you could come up with.”