Todd Bridges: 'Talkin' 'Bout' Transformation

The star of "Diff'rent Strokes" on being abused a child, his years of drug addiction, and the media's negative portrayal of former child stars.

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What made me stop was I got sick and tired of going through that pain and suffering. All drugs did was compound it and make it even worse. The drugs helped it temporarily, but it wasn't a long-lasting fix. That's why I had to stop.

How did your faith life change during this period of time?

I started listening to Him, really listening to that inner voice that God is speaking through and realizing that I had choices to make. Most of them were about straightening out my life and getting my life together. I couldn't continue to stay with hate and anger in my heart because God is not full of hate and anger. God's full of love and joy. I just realized that things in my life had to be different.

Can you explain the title of your book "Killing Willis"? Some may get the impression that you resent the character you're best known for.

No, I don't resent Willis. The reason why [the title is] "Killing Willis" is because I was trying to kill me, and trying to kill me is killing a part of me, which was Willis. And because I was so known for Willis, I was trying to destroy Todd Bridges. That's not something I should have been doing, but that's what I was trying to do. I was trying to also to kill Willis, so I was killing Willis.


You had a very close relationship with actor Corey Haim, who recently passed away, and attempted to help him get sober. It seems he's just the latest in a string of celebrities who are dying from drugsā€”he battled a very public addiction. What do you think is happening in Hollywood?

We can't blame Hollywood. It's not Hollywood. If you look at the obituaries, you're going to see a lot of people dying of drugs or dying of drug-related incidents. But we want to pinpoint Hollywood or ex-child stars. It's a very small percentage [of celebrities dying from drugs].

I always tell people for every child star you name who has gone wrong, I will name you 20 who haven't. But it seems like the media focuses only on child stars that are doing bad. And it's a very small percentage--maybe 2 percent. In my era, there was only like eight, nine of us who had problems, and there were a lot of child stars back then.

Do you think that for a lot of the former child stars in the media who have "fallen from grace" it is more than just a drug problem? Is it depression from going from being at the top of the game and popular to then not being in demand anymore?

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