Stephen Graham says method acting-induced breakdown led to suicide attempt

‘It was like an induced psychosis,’ said ‘This Is England’ actor

Adam White
Saturday 28 August 2021 10:57
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Stephen Graham has revealed that “intense” method acting at drama school led him to try and take his own life.

The This Is England and Time star, who next appears in the BBC Two limited series The North Water, recalled having a breakdown at the age of 20, in what he dubbed “an induced psychosis”.

Graham said that while learning about method acting at drama school, he tapped into emotions that he had never experienced before. Coupled with a series of upheavals in his personal life, he attempted suicide.

“[Method acting] is a wonderful practice,” Graham told The Times, “and I threw everything at it. I had a couple of incidents and then I felt like I couldn’t handle it any more. It was like an induced psychosis. Basically, I had a breakdown.”

He continued: “I was a young man, 20 years old. I’d just left home. My little brother had just been born. My mum and dad had lost a little boy [at birth] three years before. My nana had passed away when I was 14. I was in the big wide world on my own and it wasn’t easy. I was very close to my mum and dad and I think with the kind of intense work we did, tapping into emotions that I’d never really tapped into before…”

While returning home from drama school during a break, Graham attempted to take his own life, and claimed that he heard his late grandmother utter his name during the attempt. After he was found, his family and friends got Graham the help he needed.

“I have the resources now mentally and spiritually to be able to deal with what comes along,” he added. “No matter what happens, I will never go there again. I will never be in that place.”

Actor Stephen Graham

Earlier this year, This Is England star Thomas Turgoose revealed that Graham and the show’s creator Shane Meadows both offered to adopt him at 13 following the death of his mother.

“I spent a lot of time with Shane Meadows and Stephen Graham,” he recalled. “They agreed between them that if they didn’t get on with my dad, or if they didn’t see my dad fit to bring me up, they was gonna adopt me.”

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If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

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