Martin Scorsese Gets Candid About 1970s Drug Addiction And Near-Death Experience: ‘I Became Aware Of Not Wanting To Die’

Legendary director Martin Scorsese is opening up about the night he almost died in 1978.

After years of drug use and hard-living, 35-year-old Scorsese found himself facing-down death after collapsing and winding up in the hospital – a move that surprised the filmmaker.

“After finishing ‘New York, New York’, I took chances,” he says in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “[I was] out of time and out of place and also in turmoil in my own life and embracing the other world, so to speak, with a kind of attraction to the dangerous side of existence. Then on Labour Day weekend, I found myself in a hospital, surprised that I was near death.”

What led to him hitting bottom: “A number of things had happened… misuse of normal medications in combinations, my body reacted in strange ways. I was down to about 109-pounds. It wasn’t only drug-induced — asthma had a lot to do with it. I was kept in a hospital for 10 days and nights, and they took care of me, these doctors, and I became aware of not wanting to die and not wasting [my life].”

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In the hospital, the “Taxi Driver” director says he drew on his Catholic upbringing for support.

“I was stunned by the realization of my naivete and denial,” he says. “I prayed. But if I prayed, it was just to get through those 10 days and nights. I felt [if I was saved] it was for some reason. And even if it wasn’t for a reason, I had to make good use of it.”

“[In the New Testament], they were all complaining about Jesus, that he hangs out with publicans and tax men and whores,” he continues, drawing on Bible stories to talk about his newfound look at life, “and the man says, ‘All I know is, I was blind and now I can see.'”

 

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