‘I kept my alcoholism secret on Mission: Impossible set,’ Simon Pegg reveals

Simon Pegg faced his own mission impossible, tackling both his addiction and eventual recovery, while working on the major Hollywood film franchise alongside Tom Cruise, he will explain in a revealing radio interview on Sunday morning.

Speaking of a secret reliance upon alcohol that he hid while working on film sets in the early 2000s, Pegg admits: “You become very sneaky when you have something like that in your life.”

The actor and writer, who grew up in Gloucestershire, is the guest on the latest edition of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, where he details his grim realisation that he was a depressive alcoholic, despite having a burgeoning film star career.

“You learn how to do it without anyone noticing because it takes over. It wants to sustain itself and it will do everything it can to not be stopped,” the 53-year-old tells Lauren Laverne, host of the show. “But eventually it just gets to a point when it can’t be hidden, and that’s when, thankfully, I was able to pull out of the dive.”

Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise and Ving Rhames in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Photograph: David James/AP

Pegg’s mental health problems began with a bout of teenage depression after his A-level exams and before studying at the University of Bristol. A seriously low mood returned unexpectedly in 2006, while he was working on Mission: Impossible III, and Pegg recalls using alcohol to numb his emotional pain. The birth of his daughter, Matilda, in 2009 forced him to admit to his dependency and accept the need for recovery.

He also talks to Laverne about the boundaries of his relationship with Cruise, who stars alongside him in the Mission: Impossible films. The Hollywood star is now a friend, Pegg says, but he still steers clear of discussing Cruise’s controversial faith in the Church of Scientology, believing it would “abuse my privileged access that I get to him”.

“My relationship with him is just very simple and amiable,” he tells Laverne. “It’s always been a very easy relationship. I think you realise, when you meet the person rather than the thicket of mythology that’s built up around them, it’s a different experience. I mean, he loves [the fame] and he really relishes it, it’s all he knows. It energises him and spurs him on.”

Pegg, who is also known in Britain for his cult sitcom Spaced, as well as for his leading roles in the “Cornetto” film trilogy, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, says he teases Cruise about his fame. “We joke about it. I mean, I always make fun of him for it, you know, about the things that he can access,” he says.

Pegg recalls an incident in South Africa when Cruise took a break from filming to fly him in a helicopter to a bay where he could swim with sharks. It was, he says, “a real Tom Cruise kind of day”.

“He kind of appreciates the ridiculousness of it sometimes,” says Pegg.

source: theguardian.com