Tom Felton has opened up about his past struggles with alcohol abuse and rehab.
The actor, who portrayed Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, revealed that he began “drinking to escape” and spent much of his 20s in bars, noting that his troubles often spilled into his professional life.
“Drinking becomes a habit at the best of times,” Felton wrote in his newly-released book Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard.
“When you’re drinking to escape a situation, even more so. The habit spilled out of the bar and, from time to time, on to set.”
He continued: “It came to the point where I would think nothing of having a drink while I was working. I’d turn up unprepared, not the professional I wanted to be. The alcohol, though, wasn’t the problem. It was the symptom.”
The actor went on to explain how his agents, managers, lawyers and former girlfriend Jade Olivia staged an intervention and arranged for him to be sent to rehab.
“Everybody in the room had written me a letter,” he recalled. “I listened to Jade and the others as they told me how concerned they were about my behaviour, about my drinking and my substance abuse. I was in no state to hear them.”
However, it was the letter from his lawyer that “hit the hardest,” he revealed.
“My lawyer, whom I’d barely ever met face to face, spoke with quiet honesty. ‘Tom,’ he said, ‘I don’t know you very well, but you seem like a nice guy. All I want to tell you is that this is the seventeenth intervention I’ve been to in my career. Eleven of them are now dead. Don’t be the twelfth.'”
Felton said that his lawyer’s words “cut through” through his anger and denial. He later entered a rehab facility in Malibu, California, where the actor was asked if he wanted to use an alias to hide his identity.
“If people recognise me from the Harry Potter films it’ll be because of my face,” Felton replied.
He also recounted escaping from the facility less than 24 hours after checking. “All of a sudden, the frustration burst out of me,” the actor wrote.
Felton later entered another rehab facility, but was kicked out after being found in a woman’s room. It was after another stint in rehab that he was able to get back on track.
“I am not alone in having these feelings,” he wrote. “Just as we all experience physical ill-health at some stage in our lives, so we all experience mental ill-health too. There’s no shame in that. It’s not a sign of weakness. And part of the reason that I took the decision to write these pages is the hope that by sharing my experiences, I might be able to help someone else who is struggling.”
He continued: “I’m no longer shy of putting my hands up and saying: I’m not okay. To this day I never know which version of myself I’m going to wake up to. Which takes us back to the concept of rehab, and the stigma attached to the word.
“By no means do I want to casualise the idea of therapy—it’s a difficult first step to take—but I do want to do my bit to normalise it. I think we all need it in one shape or another, so why wouldn’t it be normal to talk openly about how we’re feeling?”
In 2019, Felton admitted that he would like to reprise the role fo Draco Malfoy, suggesting that the franchise will “definitely” be rebooted one day.