Martin Scorsese: ‘I Almost Died from Drug Abuse 50 Years Ago’
Filmmaker Martin Scorsese has opened up about the near-death experience that drove him to become a success, revealing how drug abuse and chronic asthma put him in the hospital for 10 days, 50 years ago.
Now 74, the Oscar winner reveals he completely turned his life around after the 1978 health scare, following months of hard living.
Scorsese tells The Hollywood Reporter he collapsed shortly after completing work on New York, New York – and woke up in the hospital.
“I took chances,” he tells the publication. “(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 Labor Day weekend, I found myself in a hospital, surprised that I was near death.”
“A number of things had happened – misuse of normal medications in combinations (to which) 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).”
“I prayed,” he adds. “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.”
He tells The Hollywood Reporter he used the memory of his near-death health battle half a century ago to inspire his new film, Silence, which he screened for The Pope at the Vatican last week.
Based on Shusaku Endo’s 1966 novel, the film chronicles the journeys of two Jesuit priests as they attempt to win converts in 17th century Japan.