Academy Award winning Actor, Richard Dreyfuss, star of hit movies such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Mr. Holland’s Opus, suffers from bipolar disorder.
Dreyfuss, 66, first spoke publicly about his disorder in the 2006 documentary The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive. Since then, he’s been sharing his personal struggles at conferences around the country to illuminate the discussion on depression.
“There’s no shame in having depression,” Dreyfuss told PEOPLE magazine at a Hope for Depression Research Foundation luncheon in New York City last month. “By telling my own story, I hope to help remove the stigma. It should never be something to hide.”
The same is true of the flip side of bipolar disorder: the manic state. “I didn’t know it was a manic state,” he explained during a visit to TODAY. “I just thought I was really happy, and everything that was bad, I turned to good.”
But what seemed good to him sometimes seemed odd to those around him.
“Every once in a while, when I was talking, I would find myself getting up and talking louder and faster and louder and faster and louder and faster, until my friends would say, ‘OK, OK. Let’s get the big circus cables and throw them around his ankles and pull him gently back to Earth.”
The star realized those actions were beyond his control, and eventually, he learned what was really behind it all.
As an actor, Dreyfuss was on top. At the age of 30, he won the Best Actor Oscar for 1977’s The Goodbye Girl.
But the good time didn’t last. While shooting the 1991 romantic comedy Once Around with Holly Hunter, his mood swings and lack of self-esteem started to affect his work. “Had I not been depressed, I would have given a very different performance.”
Starting at the age of 14, Dreyfuss realized he was living with a roller coaster of emotions. He would have lots of energy and feel great, then suddenly feel down and anxious. During his happy days, “I was thrilled with my life entirely too much,” he said.
- Richard Dreyfuss Feared Drug Use Was To Blame For Bipolar Disorder (contactmusic.com)
- Richard Dreyfuss reveals bipolar diagnosis ‘took away all of my guilt’ (today.com)
- On Mental Disorders, and Being Depressed (pksaksornchai.wordpress.com)
- Richard Dreyfuss on his bi-polar disorder: “I was the person, who when he talked, he would get up loud, faster, loud faster, loud faster…” (piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com)