Wes Bentley, ‘Hunger Games’ Star, Opens Up About Heroin Addiction
Wes Bentley is opening up about the heroin addiction that stalled his Hollywood career before the actor got clean and back to work. The Hunger Games star initially broke through in 1999 with American Beauty, but says he began using drugs to deal with high expectations and pressure.
His heroin addiction “happened in a matter of days,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, and he passed on major career opportunities while indulging his habit. Bentley explains, “I put up such a wall that I didn’t even go and meet with these great directors whom I respected and admired so much,” turning down Ang Lee, Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and others.
The movies he did make were also unfulfilling. He says, “I wasn’t bringing my A game to any of them. I don’t know if I was bringing my B game. I just kind of didn’t care and [was] coasting.” He took long breaks between projects, wound up in IRS debt, and was arrested for heroin possession in 2008, the same year his good friend Heath Ledger died of a prescription drug overdose. Bentley eventually got himself to detox, began attending meetings, and has now been sober for four years.
He starred as Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games and has been cast in a number of upcoming projects. “I’ve been given this second chance, and I’m going to do everything I can with it,” he says. “And with Chris Nolan giving me an opportunity [in the upcoming Interstellar], I’m working with people that I can really learn from.” He adds that he’d love to try his hand at comedy. “For so many years, I took everything so seriously,” says Bentley. “Life could have been a lot more fun.”