In a profile by The Guardian, Pegg revealed that even at the height of his career he has struggled with depression and alcoholism.
“I would feel like – I’m in a film with Tom Cruise, I’ve got the part of Scotty in Star Trek,” Pegg recalled. “This should be making me feel happy. But it wasn’t.”
Pegg says he’s been struggling with depression and coping through self-medication since he was 18. He used his acting skills to hide his problems from even his closest friends.
“One thing [addiction] does is make you clever at not giving anything away,” Pegg said. “People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not – they are incredibly organized. They can nip out for a quick shot of whiskey and you wouldn’t know they have gone. It’s as if … you are micro-managed by it. But eventually, the signs are too obvious. You have taken the dog for one too many walks.”
The birth of Pegg’s daughter helped put things into perspective for him. It wasn’t an epiphany moment where he suddenly went sober. Rather, the fact that it wasn’t the revelatory moment one might expect made him realize he needed “a dedicated approach, whether that’s therapy or medication, or whatever.”
After San Diego Comic-Con in 2011 and a particularly bad spell, Pegg was admitted to rehab and began to turn things around. With rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous, Pegg was able to gain a new perspective on himself and his mental health issues. He admits that playing Gary King, a man obsessively dedicated to completing a pub crawl, in the 2013 film The World’s End allowed him a way to express what his life had been like up until then.
“I felt like I was kind of telling people with that movie,” he admits with a smile. “Because that’s what addiction is like. It’s like you have grown a second head and all it wants to do is destroy itself, and it puts that ahead of everything else – your marriage, children, your job.”
For a time, Pegg wanted to keep the story of his recovery under wraps. Now, he feels much more comfortable sharing his tale.
“I’m not ashamed of what happened,” he said. “And I think if anyone finds any relationship to it, then it might motivate them to get well. But I am not proud of it either – I don’t think it’s cool like I was Mr. Rock’n’roll, blackout, and all that shit. It wasn’t, it was just terrible.”
Pegg will reprise his role as Scotty in the next Star Trek movie, directed by SJ Clarkson. His previous Star Trek films - Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond (which he co-wrote) - are available on home media.