5:18pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Scandal' Alum Columbus Short Reveals Reasons Behind Breakdown
Former Scandal supporting actor Columbus Short is coming clean about the bad behavior that ultimately led to his exit from ABC's hit drama.
"I was struggling with drugs," Short told Access Hollywood on Wednesday of the behavior that included domestic abuse claims from his now ex-wife Tuere Short. "I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy duty stuff in my life."
The actor, one of Scandal's original stars, played Gladiator Harrison Wright on the Shonda Rhimes political thriller's first three seasons. He exited the series in April following his March arrest for allegedly knocking a man out during an altercation at a West L.A. restaurant. He faced up to four years in state prison if convicted.
Additionally, he was hit with a restraining order from his then-wife after she claimed he threatened her life during a fight at their Chatsworth, Calif., home. She subsequently filed for divorce and is seeking sole custody of their 2-year-old daughter. On Feb. 14, he was also charged with misdemeanor spousal battery, and on March 5, a judge ordered him to keep away from his wife, Tuere Short. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.
"I was doing cocaine and drinking a lot, and trying to balance a 16-hour work schedule a day, and a family, and I just lost myself back then."
The actor said Rhimes and his fellow Scandal co-stars knew about his struggle with substance abuse and did what they could to help him.
"They protected me, and they held me down," he said. "And that was one of the real reasons — they just wanted me to get my stuff together. Sometimes the bottom has to be dropped out for you to really get it. So I moved to Atlanta. I've been living there for the last five months, five-and-a-half months, and it's just been great. It's been life changing."
Short said the death of his friend, actor Lee Thompson Young (Rizzoli & Isles), sent him into a downward spiral.
"I was going through a lot, going through a lot in my marriage, I had a lot of loss, tragic loss, so it's tough," he said. "Last year, one of my best friends died, he killed himself, Lee Thompson Young, and that kind of started a spiral. I found out when I was on set, and it really just, it took my legs out from under me."
While Harrison was subsequently killed off in the season four premiere, Short said he's ready to go back to work — including on Scandal.
"I'm really ready to get back to work," he said. "As far as Shonda's shows, I would love nothing more to go back to Scandal. It's my family."
Watch Short's interview, below. Do you miss him on Scandal? Hit the comments below with your thoughts.