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Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself.
As Samuel L. Jackson prepares to return to the Great White Way this year as Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop, he's taking a moment to recall his early years on Broadway and how his career almost came to end before it started.
Back in late 80s, Samuel originated the role of Boy Willie in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. It was something he was very proud of, but then became bitter over when he never got the chance to appear onstage in the role. He explains that when the show made it to the stage, he was replaced by Charles S. Dutton and the decision drove him to drugs.
"I originated the role at Yale (Repertory Theater) and then I had to understudy him (Dutton) because the role was written for him when he was doing Crocodile Dundee 2, so when Crocodile Dundee 2 was over he came back and he started to do the play. It was pretty much the play that put me in rehab … You have to show up every day and sign in and if that person's not there by half hour (before the show) you start getting ready to go on. But he was always there… I had to sit backstage until at least the first act was over and listen to the play onstage, which was kinda running me crazy, so I used to sit on the back steps and smoke crack."
From there, it took him nearly dying in front of his wife for a "fix" before he finally sobered up and put his life back together. He entered a rehab facility right after that and has been sober for 21 years.
Well, hopefully this will mean he will have a good repertoire with his own understudy for Mountaintop. Remember what it was like being in that guys shoes and all.
[Image via WENN.]