'Kingdom' Actress Joanna Going Reveals Struggles with Depression, Bulimia

Courtesy of Benjo Arwas
Joanna Going

"The endorphin addiction that can come with throwing up, you know, that I had to learn how that becomes an addiction," says Going. "There’s a high off it."

On DirecTV's original series Kingdom, Joanna Going's character Christina Kulina knows the struggles of addiction all too well. She plays a hard-edged prostitute who fights the emotional and physical roller coaster of having serious drug dependencies. 

As the show gears up for its second season premiere on Oct. 14, Going opens up to The Hollywood Reporter about her own past addictions and shares how vulnerable moments in her life have helped her bring a raw sense of authenticity to her character. 

"I have less dangerous addictions. It’s more like emotional addictions. I’ve struggled with depression in my life and sort of the way that the depression itself becomes an addiction," says Going. "It becomes a comfort to you in a way. As bad as it feels, it’s familiar to you. And the depression itself is making you unable to reach out. So, I've definitely experienced that in my life."

The 52-year-old actress, who also played First Lady Tricia Walker in the second season of House of Cards, added that her personal history with bulimia helps her understand her character's addictive habits.

"I have had struggles with some eating disorders, just eating issues. And I know that the endorphin addiction that can come with throwing up you know that I had to learn how that becomes an addiction, and that becomes a chemical reaction in your body. There’s a high off it and you know learning to manage that."

Going makes it clear that she and her character's past addictions certainly differ in a major way, since the actress affirms that she has avoided turning to drugs. 

"I’ve never really been drawn to chemical alternatives. Certainly alcoholism runs in my family, so I’ve been weary in that way," says Going. "And I have had people around me struggle with addiction, so I’ve been kind of that person trying to spearhead the intervention, and things like that."

To prepare for the role, Going gathered as many real life testimonials as possible by watching recovering addicts document their journeys on YouTube and by calling up friends of friends who had survived severe substance abuse problems.

"There was one woman in particular that I was able to kind of call up when I had specific questions like, 'This is happening in the script, and how would she feel about this? And what would be specifically happening when this is going on?' So, that was an amazing resource."

The show, which stars Frank GrilloJonathan Tucker and Nick Jonas, is of course fictional, but Going is thankful to use entertainment to raise awareness about addiction, especially when her fans express that they have struggled with the same issues as Christina. 

"It's a huge reward when you feel like okay we are getting some truth there, and if one person says, 'Oh yeah, I’m inspired to help myself out here.' It’s so gratifying," says Going. "Yeah, I’m doing what I love  what I devoted my life to. So, yay, I get to be acting on an amazing show with an awesome character, but if you can have a little byproduct of sending some kind of message, that’s the frosting on the cake for any of us in this business. That we’re like hopefully touching somebody with some information. Sometimes I have to let go of my research, but I do try to be as truthful as possible."

Season two of the MMA drama kicks off after Christina has been almost forcibly detoxed. Christina will now battle the next overwhelming challenge of her recovery: the fight to stay clean and to resist the urge to get high to escape reality. 

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