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Darrell Hammond breaks down in tears describing his childhood abuse, struggles with drug addiction and being checked into psych wards during an interview on CNN.com‘s Red Chair from early October.
“My dad never really abused me… I was frightened to be around him,” says Hammond, who goes on to explain that his father was a veteran who had “nightmares about Nazis” every night.
“My mom did things that have cost me dearly,” adds Hammond, who was the longest-running castmember on Saturday Night Live after 14 seasons. “Stabbing, beating, beating electrocuted…it was my mom.”
“When I was 19 was the first time I ever cut myself,” says Hammond, who is releasing a new memoir, “If You’re Not There God, I’m F–ked.” “Over the years it became more habitual.”
“I was never in a mental institution for a long time. I was in psych wards. I was diagnosed with everything from schizophrenia to multiple personality disorder. I was on seven medications at one time… soul-killing drugs.”
Speaking of SNL, Hammond says, “Performing with anthrax in the building is not nearly as difficult as performing in a home where you might get stabbed at night.”
He says he used to cut backstage and he was “taken to the psych ward the week I did the [Al] Gore debates. I believe that was when I was taken away in a straightjacket. There’s no way for people to know about that. SNL is a place where if Lorne [Michaels] judges you can hit the ball over the wall that night, you’ll get up and step up to the plate. I didn’t want to let Lorne down, whom I’m close to.”
Hammond says he struggled playing Senator John McCain on the show. “I didn’t want to make fun of a guy whose body and voice were changed by combat. I had a hard time playing John McCain. My father [told me] on his death bed he wanted me to play him.”
Hammond says says he’s not hiding his past.
“I don’t feel ashamed for falling down because I got hit by a mac truck,” he says of his childhood. “I kept trying to get back up and then I did.”
After beating his drug addiction, Hammond starred this summer in Sag Harbor as Truman Capote in one-man play Tru. He’s also involved in Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die website.
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