September 23rd, 2010
12:26 PM ET
According to Aaron Sorkin, “West Wing” creator/writer and writer of the upcoming film “The Social Network," he should be dead about five times over by now.
“I did things that should have killed me,” he explains to W magazine in their October issue. “I had what they call a ‘high bottom.’ I didn’t lose my job or run over a kid or injure anyone when I was high. But the hardest thing I do every day is not take cocaine. You don’t get cured of addiction – you’re just in remission.”
Sorkin, who entered rehab in 1995, admitted that he still has his “scary moments.”
“When I’m under an unusual amount of pressure,” he said, “people wonder, ‘Will he relapse?’ But that’s not it: Opportunity and free time are the biggest temptations. If I feel like I might be able to get away with taking drugs, I'll make appointments and find ways to be busy.”
There was a moment in 2001 when such an opportunity arrived. “I had a window where I could fly to Vegas on a Friday, get high all night, and then return to L.A. the next day,” Sorkin said. But on this particular trip, he was caught at the airport carrying “a four dollar pipe" with a metal bowl, along with hallucinogenic mushrooms and rock cocaine.
“I fainted,” Sorkin recalled. “When I came to, I was in handcuffs. I was lucky – there are guys serving time in prison for doing less than I did.”
At first, when he got sober, Sorkin said his biggest fear was whether or not he was going to be able to write without cocaine. “In the past my dealer would come over, and I’d do drugs all night long and I’d write high,” he told W. “I was worried that I couldn’t write with the sun out.”
But after rehab, Sorkin found that yes, in fact, he could. “The first time I wrote in the daytime I was so proud,” he recalled. “Now my firewall is [my nine-year-old daughter] Roxy. I’d let her down if I relapsed.”
For Sorkin, the creative process is a solitary one; when he was working on “The West Wing,” he hired writers who were young enough not to be bothered by the fact that he was writing every episode himself.
“When I create a TV show, it’s so I can write it,” he said. “A lot of members of the Writers Guild are not happy that I write all the episodes. But writing is something I do by myself. Being up against the wall seems to work for me.”
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