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Conan O'Brien has been on late-night TV for nearly 30 years and has interviewed hundreds of celebrities in the process, some of whom left a mark for the right reasons, and others, for the wrong ones. During a 2018 interview on the Armchair Expert podcast, Dax Shepard asked O'Brien about one interview that fell into the latter category: His infamous 1996 sitdown with filmmaker Abel Ferrara. "He fled during the show before his segment," O'Brien told Shepard. Though they eventually got him back to the studio, things only got worse. "He came on camera against his will, came out, and started yelling at me," said O'Brien. Looking back, the late-night host said, "If you ate 15 cloves of garlic, you wouldn't say that was a great experience, but you'd remember it."
But what they didn't talk about was Shepard's own disastrous interview with O'Brien in 2004. On the May 19 episode of The Pursuit of Healthiness With Blake Griffin, Shepard, who has been very open over the years about his struggles with drug and alcohol use, said he was banned from Late Night With Conan O'Brien as a result of the appearance. Read on to see what happened and to find out how he got back in O'Brien's good graces.
Shepard said that for the most part, his career wasn't very affected by his drug and alcohol use.
During his appearance on The Pursuit of Healthiness, Shepard explained that using drugs and drinking didn't have that much of an affect on his career, because he was able to stay sober while working on movies and then started using again between projects. "What I would do is I would get sober for movies. I cared more about movies—it was the only thing I was more addicted to was being in movies—and so I would get sober for movies and then in between movies it was getting more and more dangerous," he said on the podcast (via People).
However, Late Night With Conan O'Brien in 2004 was the exception to that. "Professionally, the only wreckage I really had while I was an addict was … on Conan," he explained.
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Shepard admitted he was "a mess" during his 2004 appearance on O'Brien's show.
"I had done the pre-interview in a blackout and I woke up to the hotel security shaking me awake, and I was with a stranger and the stranger had peed the bed, or I had peed the bed, someone had peed the bed," he told host Blake Griffin (via Just Jared).
Shepard was woken up with only 20 minutes before he had to appear on the talk show. And, because he didn't remember the pre-interview, he didn't know any of the talking points they were supposed to cover. "I show up on the show, I don't know what he's talking about. I can tell he's cueing me up for stories I've told but I don't know any of the stories," Shepard said. "So, I'm just doing what I can to be funny out there and I am a mess."
The interview can be viewed on YouTube. In it, Shepard appears to be slurring his words a little at first, and he makes a joke about a snake biting him and jokingly falls over. During the fall, a small table broke. "Now, the audience dug it. It was fine for the audience. But for [Conan], what a disaster. I didn't know any of the stories. I broke a coffee table," Shepard said on the podcast, according to USA Today. As a result, he was banned from O'Brien's show "for some years."
O'Brien seemingly forgave Shepard years later.
On The Pursuit of Healthiness, Shepard said, "I was banned from that show for some years, until I got sober." He added that he's returned to O'Brien's shows "a bazillion times" since.
In fact, during an appearance on O'Brien's TBS show Conan in 2018, he commented on the 2004 interview. "I came on to this show in less than great shape one time. Broke a coffee table and stuff. Banned for a while," Shepard said. Conan responded, "I do remember that." The host added: "Two-thirds of our guests are wasted, so I wouldn't worry about that."
Shepard was sober for 16 years prior to a relapse in 2020.
As reported by People, during an episode of Armchair Expert in Sept. 2020, Shepard opened up about the fact that while he was 16 years sober from alcohol and cocaine, he had some struggles with taking pain medication. Over the years, he had suffered a few of injuries that left him taking prescription drugs. In the first two instances, he felt pretty comfortable with taking the medicine, especially the first time when his wife, Kristen Bell, was responsible for making sure he took the prescription correctly.
But, in 2020, he had an ATV accident and a motorcycle accident and said his use of prescription drugs got "shadier and shadier," including him purchasing his own. He said that celebrating being 16 years sober while secretly high was "the worst hour of my life." Though Shepard explained that he's proud of being sober from alcohol and cocaine for so long, he has "not been sober in the way I would like to be sober, where you don't have secrets and you're not afraid to tell people about the gray area you're going through."