This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Men's Health.
The 65-year-old-actor hustled. He’s posted every day during COVID-19, delivering behind-the-scenes Hollywood tales, slapstick comedy, and unconventional words of wisdom, all with his distinguishable southern drawl.
The PG-13-rated, social media Mister Rogers shares how he stayed sane during a crazed year.
I was in Tennessee and I started posting really funny things. I would think it out, like okay, I’m going to twirl a baton, I’m going to get a back scratcher, or I’m going to do my yoga on the kitchen table—just anything I could think of. I lost all sense of dignity—just SHAMELESS! Shameless theatrics and histrionics!
“Hunny, you’ve gone viral!,” a friend from California said to me. I said, “No, I’m fine. I’m at mama’s in Tennessee.” I thought he meant I had the coronavirus!
I’ve always been an open book, you know. All of that stuff, all of those stories are in a book that I published a long time ago anyway. I really backed away from the Robert Downey Jr. story because I thought, you know what, he’s married now, he has children now. I bring it up constantly—I WAS IN JAIL WITH ROBERT DOWNEY JR.!
I’ve been sober for 22 years. We have something in the rooms of recovery where we talk about "over-sharing." I do know that feeling, when people are in trouble, that it’s very healing to share, to open yourself up to other people. But sometimes we have this thing where we’ll go, “OVER SHARE!” We don’t need to know about that, hunny. We really don’t need to know about that.
Out of the blue, you’ll get that one ugly comment. This girl said, “Your face looks so pinched all the time. It looks like you’re trying to take a dump.” I wrote her back saying that’s awful, why would you say that? And then a friend said, “She’s trying to get followers.” But my face isn’t pinched, bitch.
In the 1980’s, we went through our own little epidemic, the AIDS epidemic. And was it a pandemic? Yes, but no one was paying attention to us. So we learned very early that we’ve got to take care of our own. What happened was, when we came out of that, we were stronger as a community.
I have actually found the perfect thing for working out—my new toy. It was given to me by a company called The Mirror. You go on there and it’s thirty minutes and I do dance cardio with Julie. She’s my new best friend. Now, they can’t speak to you through the mirror, but I can speak to her, you know. “Slow down, bitch!”
I can’t imagine sitting at home drinking alone, because I know how lonely it was for me years ago, but I never drank at home. That was my problem, I kept getting DUIs. That’s how I ended up in jail with you know who.
Since the time I was very young in school, I was very self-conscious about the way I looked and the way I sounded. You know, I open my mouth and fifty yards of purple chiffon come out. It’s just the way I sound.
I’ve had agents tell me, “Keep your hands at your side, put your voice in your lower register, and keep your feet on the ground—you’re too light in the loafers.” And I don’t hear that much anymore. I think there’s more acceptance of people for exactly who they are—just to be who you are and what you are.
I would spend my last day on Earth with Dolly Parton and we would eat Mexican food.
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