Arts & Culture News

Before the Drama of TV's Celeb Rehab, They Once Were Movie Stars

Watching them detox on VH1's Celebrity Rehab 5 with Dr. Drew, it's sometimes hard to remember what the twitching, vomiting, weeping, roof-climbing celebrities did before they succumbed to the addictions that landed them on a cable-TV reality show.

Some were one-shot wonders, like Amy Fisher, aka the Long Island Lolita, who at 17 shot her much older lover's wife in the face, served six years in jail and now, at 36, does porn in a fog of alcohol and shame. Jeremy Jackson hasn't worked much since he was a teenager playing Hasselhoff's son Hobie on Baywatch. He's now a sweaty 30-year-old behemoth trying to come off a cocktail of steroids. Michael Lohan? Coke problems, prison time for contempt of court (in an insider trading case) and notoriety for siring an actress-daughter whose own addictions have made her as familiar to courtrooms as Rusty the Bailiff.

There are some Celeb Rehabbers, however, from the current and previous seasons, who once enjoyed serious, successful careers on the big screen. Here's a look with links to some of their better moments in front of cameras.

Bai Ling: Most famous in recent years for baring her boobs to paparazzi and claiming she was born on the moon, Bai Ling spent her first few days in Celeb Rehab 5 coming off booze and experiencing disturbing psychological breaks. At one point, she scampered up on the roof of the Pasadena Recovery Center in a kimono, as Dr. Drew Pinsky looked on from ground level, saying, "Is she going to jump?"

Calmed down with Abilify and Dr. Drew's no-nonsense approach to confronting alcoholism (she claimed to be "allergic" to Champagne), Ling, 44, started opening up about her horrifying childhood, which included sexual abuse by generals in the Chinese army. In those scenes on the TV show, she showed some of the beautiful vulnerability she brought to past roles in films such as The Crow, Edmond, Nixon and Anna and the King. Here she is with Richard Gere in the 1997 thriller Red Corner, directed by Jon Avnet (she comes in about the 2:40 mark):

Sean Young: Also an actress who dealt with alcoholism on Celeb Rehab 5, which was filmed last spring, Young once was a major movie star with a promising future as a screen beauty with strong acting chops in comedy or drama. That was before her career went on the rocks (literally, as she hit the ice with other D-level names recently on Skating with the Stars) and reports of her odd off-screen behavior made her a Tinseltown untouchable.

But look at her here as the luminously beautiful Rachel in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. In 1992 Siskel and Ebert paid tribute to her considerable talent in such roles as the drug addict alongside James Woods in Boost with this clip compilation:

Eric Roberts During his stint in Celeb Rehab two years ago for addiction to medical marijuana, Roberts, now 54, traced his drug abuse back to losing the Oscar in 1986 when he was nominated for his performance in Runaway Train. Before that he was known for sexy intensity in such films as King of the Gypsies, Raggedy Man, Star 80 and The Pope of Greenwich Village.

Afterward, with arrests for cocaine and spousal abuse, his career dipped into the dregs for about two decades. A starring role in the 2009 TV movie Sharktopus sums up the dark years. His post-rehab comeback film, 2010's The Expendables, reteamed him with Mickey Rourke and earned good reviews. Here are Roberts and Rourke in their 20s in the great "they took my thumb" scene from The Pope of Greenwich Village:

Gary Busey And what can you say about Gary Busey? Brain-scrambled after a helmet-free motorcycle crash in 1988, Busey had few lucid moments on Celebrity Rehab's second season in 2008 (he was treated for brain injury-related problems, but previously had addictions to coke and GHB). Was he once a great actor? Oh, boy. Oscar-nominated for The Buddy Holly Story in 1978, Busey coulda been a contender. But no more. He hasn't found much work this century except on reality shows, most recently Celebrity Apprentice. So let's appreciate him as Buddy, doing his own singing in a concert scene set at the Apollo:

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Elaine Liner
Contact: Elaine Liner