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Top 10 Unexpectedly Sober Celebrities
Drinking and partying are synonymous with the lavish lifestyles of Hollywood’s elite. From the posh bungalows of Malibu to the sprawling mansions of the Hamptons, it’s common to see the rich and famous drinking bottles of Dom Perignon while dining on elaborate surf and turf spreads.
This is probably why the entertainment industry is notorious for its ranks attending rehab. Yet, while certain actors and actresses are commonly associated with addiction and recovery, below are 10 surprising members of the upper crust who bucked industry pressure and live a sober life.
10 Bradley Cooper
Beyond being a Hollywood heartthrob, Philadelphia-born Bradley Cooper is a smart man. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, with a BA in English before going off to study theater in the Big Apple. Adding to his “brains and brawn” credentials, he was selected as People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2011.
So it may surprise you to learn that the man behind blockbusters such as Wedding Crashers and Silver Linings Playbook has been alcohol- and drug-free since 2004 when he was 29. Previously, the high-rolling Cooper, now 42, was admittedly a heavy drinker.
But it didn’t take a public shame storm or a stint in rehab for him to clean up his act. Instead, he just realized if he didn’t quit acting that way, his career was going to suffer, if it were to exist at all.
Emma Stone, his friend and costar in 2008’s The Rocker, says Cooper attributes improvements in his acting career to dropping the bottle. For his part, Cooper told GQ magazine in 2013:
I was doing these movies, and I got to meet Sandra Bullock and meet these people and work with them. And I’m sober, and I’m like, “Oh, I’m actually myself. And I don’t have to put on this air to be somebody else, and this person still wants to work with me? Oh, what the f—k is that about?” I was rediscovering myself in this workplace, and it was wonderful.
9 Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian may very well be the queen of a new kind of American royalty. She boasts over 100 million Instagram followers, plays the leading role in her family’s reality spectacle Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and co-owns clothing boutique Dash with her styling sisters.
If anyone lives a life of luxury surrounded with opportunities to party, it’s Kim. In fact, a big part of her appeal comes down to hosting exotic parties, bringing in almost $1 million to host a single event. Beyond that, her family is all too familiar with binge drinking.
The drunken exploits of Scott Disick, sister Kourtney’s ex, have been tabloid fodder for years, and the rest of the family’s tipsy moments are quickly captured for their reality fans. Yet, conspicuously absent from drunken stupor is Kim herself.
For her part, Kim attributes her sobriety to her teenage years of being the designated driver for her older sister, Kourtney. It’s a good habit she’s kept through the decades, keeping her grounded as she went on to marry and have two children with rapper Kanye West.
8 Donald Trump
Donald Trump—real estate mogul, perennial reality television star, and now 45th president of the United States—is sober. In fact, Trump has never even tried alcohol.
Alcoholism and its perils are close to the president’s heart. His late brother, pilot Fred Trump Jr., died of alcoholism-related causes in 1981 at age 42. This had a profound effect on Donald Trump. The New York Times reported that he stayed away from both alcohol and cigarettes because of their destructive effects on his brother.
Fred Trump Jr., who was successful in his own right, taught Donald Trump firsthand the damages from drinking too much, and the president made sure he would never be at risk himself.
Yet, the president’s choice of abstinence doesn’t mean that he wants others to follow his lead. Just as he has branded hotels, golf courses, and even steaks, Trump also briefly produced Trump Vodka in the US.
Although his family partakes in social drinking, the president is notoriously set in his ways. He is 71 years old as of this writing, so we imagine that he will stay away from the hard stuff going forward.
7 Edie Falco
Edie Falco, 54, has New York in her veins. Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Falco studied acting at SUNY Purchase with such notables as Stanley Tucci. After graduation, Falco went on to amass quite the resume. This includes hard-hitting roles on Oz (1997–2000) and The Sopranos (1999–2007).
Yet, what makes Falco’s inclusion on this list compelling is her turn as a nurse addicted to painkillers on the Showtime hit Nurse Jackie (2009–2015). Nurse Jackie first hides and then struggles with beating her addiction to opioids. This is complicated by her role serving up meds in a hospital.
The show’s wry comedic elements shine a light on the darkness of addiction, yet it is a darkness that Falco has battled in real life. Sober for over 20 years, she credits 12-step recovery programs in helping to revolutionize her life, including getting her through intense personal struggles like being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Falco cements her role as an unexpected recovery ally by having played a character whose addiction was prominent as well as being open about her own real-life struggles and the role addiction has played in the life of her loved ones.
6 Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato has been admirably open about her struggles with addiction and mental illness. In a culture where female superstars are expected to sing about boys and partying, Lovato has put her sobriety at the forefront of her personal brand in a way no other major pop star has.
She has been acting her whole life, getting her start on Barney & Friends before becoming a staple of the Disney Channel’s lineup. Later, she broke away from her child star identity but not before a very public battle with addiction and other health issues, such as bipolar disorder.
She is quoted as saying she didn’t believe she would make it to her twenty-first birthday. After more than five years of sobriety, Lovato concedes that it is still a daily struggle. That said, she attends AA meetings and has built recovery and redemption into her personal narrative.
Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, the 8 Mile rapper from Detroit has more than left his mark on popular culture and is a once-in-a-generation talent. Eminem was born to struggling musicians and had a rough upbringing. He repeated ninth grade three times due to truancy before deciding to forgo his education altogether.
As his career soared, Eminem experimented with prescription drugs. Eventually, his mixing of benzodiazepines and painkillers landed him in the hospital. Had he been brought to the hospital just hours later, he believes he would have been dead.
Soon after his release, he relapsed. But he eventually found the strength to power through his recovery due to his obligations as a father. His 2009 album Relapse and 2010 album Recovery ushered in a new era for the rapper, and he’s even been spotted wearing sobriety garb to award shows.
4 Elton John
Elton John is one of the most prolific solo musical artists of all time. In fact, his rewritten single, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” is the best-selling single of all time. Elton was born in March 1947 in England and quickly proved himself as a musical prodigy. The release of his self-titled album in 1970 propelled him to stardom.
Many fans don’t remember the inner battles fought by Elton mid-career, first with coming out as bisexual to Rolling Stone magazine in 1976 and then with cocaine and alcohol addiction through the 1980s. Elton told NPR, “I still dream, twice a week at least, that I’ve taken cocaine and have it up my nose.”
Helping early AIDS victim Ryan White opened Elton’s eyes to the rubble that had become his life. From that point on, he’s been straight as an arrow. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also knighted in 1998.
3 Lady Gaga
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (stage name “Lady Gaga“) is an American singer and songwriter, penning hits like “Bad Romance” and “Born This Way.” Like Edie Falco, Gaga also has New York in her blood, born in Manhattan and going on to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
A fashion icon of sorts and an LGBT advocate, Lady Gaga is proof of the power of sober supports. In fact, Elton John was a driving force for Gaga’s sobriety. She was struggling with marijuana and cocaine when Elton’s directive to “get sober” motivated her to take a look at her choices.
As with many singers who choose to step away from drugs and alcohol, Gaga’s decision to get sober has helped her reach new heights in her career. She’s drawn on her struggles to write compelling ballads like “Dope” from her album Artpop.
2 Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe built his celebrity at a young age when he was hired to play the lead in the Harry Potter movies at just 11 years old. When the films wrapped up 10 years later, Radcliffe tried his chops in theater—first in the London production of Equus and then in the Broadway show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Radcliffe got sober early, giving up the bottle in August 2010 after filming ceased on the final Harry Potter film. He’s admitted to being drunk on the set of the famous films, although he didn’t drink while filming. But he did black out nearly every time he drank.
As of a summer 2016 interview with The Telegraph, Radcliffe had been dry for three years. He explained, “I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes. [ . . . ] There is something in any person who drinks in a way that’s clearly not good for them, something that is attracted to chaos.”
Today, at 28 years old, Radcliffe remains sober and motivated to keep his career and social activism alive.
1 Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck, 44, has been a staple of Hollywood for decades now. He got his start on PBS before going on to play Fred O’Bannion in the cult classic Dazed and Confused. His career accelerated when he cowrote the 1997 feel-good drama Good Will Hunting.
Alcohol was a long-running secret problem for the actor, who was married to actress Jennifer Garner in 2005. (They filed for divorce in 2017.) Affleck also voluntarily checked himself into rehab in 2017, later posting a message of solidarity and support on Facebook and thanking his family.
He went on to be more open about his sobriety, bringing a sober support to the most recent Oscars. A source close to Affleck commented, “Ben has struggled with alcohol for years, and it’s a struggle that millions of people have to battle every day. He has nothing to hide and wants his kids to know he did everything he could to be a better father. That’s why he announced himself.”
At my core, I am a writer—observational, inquisitive, and curious. I grew up in coastal Maine, graduating from South Portland High School with honors. I was accepted to and attended Yale University where I majored in political science, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 2014. I spent two years consulting for National Journal, a subsidiary of The Atlantic, in Washington, DC. I’m a newly minted resident of South Florida and recently decided to make the transition into full-time freelancing.