Todd Bridges, the actor who played Willis Jackson in the popular US sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes, has joined the list of childhood stars who have admitted to serious problems with addiction.
The actor of “what you talking about Willis?!”-fame shared insights into childhood stardom and its effects on the minds of those involved, how the loss of childhood and the huge wages impact on an adolescent mind too young to know any better.
Diff’rent Strokes enjoyed massive success during the eighties when Bridges was earning a massive $30,000 a week at a very young age. However, by the age of 22 the show had ended and he found himself out of work. Spiraling debts forced him into buying and selling drugs although that soon backfired when he began using his own supply.
According to Bridges – now 44: “I hated myself, I hated the way I looked in the mirror. I believed everything people said about me.”
He is trying hard to put his dubious past behind him and has written a very candid autobiography which describes many episodes in his life and how he found himself on drugs. One such episode details sexual abuse by a male publicist who is also responsible for introducing Bridges to drugs.
The not so catchily titled Killing Willis: From Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted is available now and comes at a time when Diff’rent Strokes co-star Gary Coleman, and Bridges’ close friend Corey Haim have both passed away.
“The thing about drug addiction is, sometimes people are ready to stop and sometimes they’re not,” saysBridges. “You have to have it in your mind that you’re ready to stop.
“No one ever goes into addiction thinking they are going to get addicted to drugs,” he said. “You do it to cover the pain up.
“We can’t blame Hollywood, it’s not Hollywood — those are choices that I made,” he said. “The media always wants to blame Hollywood: ‘Oh, it’s because they threw you away,’ and all this and that, but I can’t blame Hollywood. … I made some stupid choices; I made some horrible mistakes that cost me.”