WrapChat: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Hollywood's Link Between Drugs and Creativity (Video)

In our new weekly talk series, rotating panelists from TheWrap team will discuss the latest burning issues in Hollywood

Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s death last weekend of an apparent drug overdose raised uncomfortable questions about the link between drugs and creativity.

Writers, performers and artists have been using mind-altering substances for centuries, and the debate about the role of drugs and creativity has raged just as long.

Editor-in-Chief Sharon Waxman was joined by Awards editor Steve Pond, Senior Editor Diane Garrett and Blogger/Reporter Greg Gilman for a roundtable discussion in TheWrap offices. Among the issues debated: Does drug use taint artistic achievement? Are our movies and music richer for drug use?



  • Lisa Rothstein

    Could it be that more artists have strong emotions or deep pain that fuels their art, and that the drugs is a way to numb that pain — rather than the drugs being in any way responsible for the art?

    • Tim Aebi


    • David Peretiatko

      I agree

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      these ”method” actors performances are fuelled by drugs

  • A Hollywood Outsider

    Yes, I agree with Lisa. Also, the other big issue that isn't being discussed is that Hollywood corporations and executives are responsible for the drug abuse and resulting tragedies. The Hollywood culture condones the behavior, or at least does far too little about it. At very least, drug abuse and addiction should be talked about in the industry and on sets. That way it doesn't need to be hidden, which is a big part of the problem. It also means that addicted individuals don't need to find their own support — it can be much more prevalent, say in the form of on-set 12-step meetings or the like. They could hire sober coaches to work with these poor people. But that would mean Hollywood execs and managers would have to turn from enablers (and some addicts themselves) into supporters for a higher good than a big box office return. At least in the short term. The long term would certainly be a healthier, more successful Hollywood.

    • David Peretiatko

      I live in Hollywood and have been in and around the entertainment business for 15 years and you have no idea what you're talking about. You sound naive as hell, actually. You sound like a 5 year old proposing that to the the war we should make cookies for the enemy soldiers.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

        @ David
        do you agree these method actors are on drugs ?

        • David Peretiatko

          Yes, I know for a fact they are.

          • Saffron Azreal

            Just out of curiosity, you have proof?

          • David Peretiatko

            Yeah because they all let me take photos of them doing illegal drugs. What are you talking about? Why would I even WANT to have proof? I do drugs myself. Sometimes with actors and musicians like these. I guess you don't understand, I'm FOR drugs, not against them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      if YOU take drugs
      that is YOUR fault nobody elses

  • David Peretiatko

    Dugs and art have always gone hand and hand and always will. If you don't like drugs, fine. But don't try and stop others from doing them.

    • A Hollywood Outsider

      There is a big difference in using drugs and abusing and being addicted to them. We need to help people understand that. Either way, at the end of the day, it is up to the user to decide and take the necessary steps. But we can help a lot more than we do today.

  • John

    I see a lot of you are saying that the drugs act as an emotional anesthetic, numbing the pain that these actors go through that add to their performances. While I don't totally disagree, I believe that the media spotlight does play a major role in it.

    Being in the spotlight 24/7 can't be easy, you probably can't take a shit without someone breathing down your neck. I also find that a lot of the media seems to be extremely negative for one reason or another (some sources seem to be more at fault then others). It's almost like the country is fixated on negativity, watching these “stars” fall from the sky.

  • C

    Unfortunately, while the initial use deemed of benefit to the artist which is the illusion
    usually turns on the individual to their demise, addiction.

  • Elizabeth

    Did any of these speakers research the issue before walking into what was supposed to be an informative panel? This was a superficial assessment of an issue that requires in-depth historical analysis to even attempt to understand. Personally, I'm surprised they are not more knowledgeable of the origins of LSD and the United States. LSD was widely used by the CIA as part of the program MKUltra (which is very worth reading about) beginning in the 50s. As far as the program's relation to artists, Ken Kesey participated in the experiments and was exposed to drugs for the first time by the CIA. Given Kesey's role as one of the leaders of the drug revolution (“Can you pass the acid test?”), it's worth considering that the CIA itself helped found the hippie movement and facilitated the drastic transformation between the early 1960s (which held onto a lot of the conformity of the 50s) and the late 60s, which defined the era– a time when drug use and art were intrinsically linked.

    Some great things to read/watch:
    The Harvard Psychedelic Club – Don Lattin
    “Magic trip” (available on Netflix)
    And the Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks – Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – Ken Kesey