Whatever Happened to Wes Bentley? Yup, Heroin


Of all the alumni from Vanity Fair's legendary Doomed Class of 2000, it was Wes Bentley that provoked the most head-scratching. A Juilliard graduate, his performance in 1999's American Beauty as a teen pot dealer obsessed with the girl next door catapulted him to worldwide fame, and positioned his career in a way that would make any young actor envious. But the follow-ups never came (he turned down several major parts, including suicidal prison guard Sonny Grotowski in Monster's Ball, which went to his Four Feathers costar Heath Ledger), and the heat eventually faded. There were rumors that drugs were the culprit. In a rare and ballsy move, Bentley, who is currently starring in an Off Broadway production of a new play, has confirmed them all to The New York Times.

After his breakout success, Bentley lived in a house with several actor roommates, including Brad Rowe and Chad Lindberg. It was there that what started as a dalliance with pot and booze moved into harder club drugs like coke and E, which eventually led to heroin.

From 2002 to 2009, Mr. Bentley said, he stopped caring about acting, and only did the occasional film for money to pay bills or buy drugs. In 2001 he married Jennifer Quanz, an aspiring actress he met at his group house two years earlier, but their relationship frayed as he hid his drug use and disappeared for hours or days. He moved out of their home in 2006 and holed up in a new apartment, doing drugs pretty much full time. (He and Ms. Quanz are in the process of divorcing.) [...]

In 2008 Mr. Bentley was arrested and pleaded guilty to heroin possession and to trying to pass a counterfeit $100 bill. He was mandated to community service and counseling and 12-step programs, but he relapsed. [...]

"I had come back to L.A. for something, and I drank a whole bottle of Scotch, and I thought to myself, 'I'm going to die in this hotel room with this bottle of Scotch,' " he said. "It was after that I told a friend for the first time: 'I'm a drug addict, and an alcoholic, and I need help. I need help or I'm going to die.' "

Bentley made a rare public statement following Ledger's death, calling him "a Vibrant Man, a Brave Actor, a Passionate Father and a Friend Forever...Heath was an essential piece of my Life. Heath was an essential piece of my Life. At one point we were as close as two people could get without being blood. That closeness came from sharing a similar, life-altering experience in life at a young age where very few could relate and those who could often were pre-occupied with competition. It would have been isolating, not to mention boring, without him." Ledger's death could have sent Bentley on a downward spiral -- in fact, it sounds as if it did -- but it's a relief to know he's come through the other end in one piece. And if an honest stab at a comeback is what he seeks, there's one man we can think of who can help him; of course, he'd have to be willing to return to some of those dark places, playing yet another sexy gay blood-junkie on HBO's biggest hit.

· Back From the Depths, Rebuilding a Career [NY Times]


  • The Winchester says:

    That still doesn't get me my money back for Ghost Rider.

  • BasicSand says:

    Whether it's Robert Downey Jr., Rob Lowe, or even Charlie Sheen, Hollywood loves a good comeback. Let's hope he completes and repeats his 12 steps, get a good sponsor, and lands an even better agent, publicist, and manager.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    You can make a living doing drugs full time? Where do I apply??

  • TC says:

    Bentley didn't turn down "Monster's Ball." He committed to it, then backed out at the last minute for "personal reasons". Lee Daniels had 48 hours to fill the role. Luckily, Ledger stepped in. Here's Lee Daniels' account, but I also remember Ledger referring to it during the press rounds for "Four Feathers." The way Ledger told it, he did it partly as a favor to Bentley.

  • snickers says:

    Brave story. He's a good actor and I hope he's able to stay sober and get his acting career going again.

  • Marsh says:

    Not sure it's so unusual for an actor to come out and talk about his or her addiction but what seems different is the way Bentley admitted that his drug use is the main reason he fell off the radar. The New York Times article was very interesting and mentioned a documentary called My Big Break that his friend is working on that supposedly shows some of the "chaos" Bentley was going through. If things were that bad with him did he really let his friend film that? I guess we'll see. I'm curious to see what he does next and if he can ever fulfill that promise he showed in American Beauty. That's still one of my favorite films.

  • mulch says:

    He's an excellent actor with real, actual edge (but skip chasing the dragon, man). One project he was involved with that tanked was a biopic of Montgomery Clift. Too bad. His unvarnished candor is admirable. Channing Tatum he isn't - I get no douche chills from Wes Bentley.

  • robotbutler says:

    He must have fell on hard times. It looks like he's wearing the same clothes from American Beauty.

  • anonymous says:

    I know that wes was involved in My Big Break and it was initially called something else. He was a producer on it and was fine with it, but then Tony took off with footage and re-released it under another name "My Big Break" adding in more drug stuff etc. Wes agents tried to block it as Wes did not receive, nor has ever received anything from the new cut and some of the people in it were not given proper credit. He never had a problem with the cut. Just not having any more say over it and having his "friend" recut it. Anyways, needless to say, i think the movie capitalizes on their downfalls, and is just sad. Tony was quoted in the article and made a fair statement, but i think it is a huge long-shot to call them friends. And whose to say Tony wasnt also involved in doing drugs? Who knows. All that said, i think wes did the right thing with coming out with all this stuff. As the first thing in addiction is admitting it, mostly to yourself, but he prob just figured why not everyone else.

  • wbm says:

    Hey Sunnydaze - I think the way to make a living doing drugs full-time is to dirty your knees full-time. And you'll need the H to deal with the c-sucker's cramp, I'm sure. If you're down with that, the life of Reilly can be yours 🙂

  • Mr. Lang Jr. Advisor at Lance High says:

    Wes admitted that he was a drug addict and that is a step in the right direction. I guess he wants others to learn from his mistake and it looks like his director /friend is releasing the documentary that shows how Wes got hooked on heroin and hopefully young ones will learn how they could easily fall in the trap of addiction. I look forward to seeing the documentary and I hope Wes stays clean and learns from it.

  • Jim says:

    I wonder if he'll stay clean?

  • amanda delo says:

    I rented Dolan's Cadillac from Blockbuster and it was really good! Wes Bentley's performance was fantastic! Dolan's Cadillac will be available in stores everywhere next month!

  • National Entertainment Media says:

    Revenge has never been as diabolical as it is in DOLAN’S CADILLAC, the new suspense thriller starring Christian Slater and Wes Bentley, based on the story by Stephen King – that arrives everywhere on DVD and Blu-ray April 6.
    DOLAN’S CADILLAC presents a modern day twist on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Cask of Amontillado,” telling one man’s dark story of murder and unrepentant revenge. Robinson (Wes Bentley) lives a quiet, peaceful life with his wife Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier) until one day, she witnesses a savage murder under the hot desert sun. The executioner is Jimmy Dolan (Christian Slater), Las Vegas’ most ruthless and untouchable mob boss. Despite warnings from the authorities, Elizabeth agrees to testify against him, a fatal choice that leads to her own demise. Devastated by her death, Robinson tries every legal channel to bring Dolan to justice. But without hard evidence, Dolan remains free, able to run his human trafficking empire without reproach. Haunted by the ghost of his wife, Robinson transforms into a vengeance-obsessed machine, pushing himself beyond the breaking point in mind, body and spirit. Infiltrating Dolan’s deadly world, Robinson devises a plan that will bury the mob boss once and for all – transforming the prized Cadillac, which has always been his armor, into his tomb.

  • karen says:

    I can't stand Bentley he ruins many a good film here's hoping he will quit someday soon for good.

  • anonymous says:

    I LOVE Wes Bentley! He is the best ever! I hope he stays clean from doing drugs. 🙂

  • Karra says:

    I met Wes on the set of "The Claim". Not only is he and amazing actor, he is also an incredibly personable and friendly guy. We chatted between takes for ages before I actually realized he was a featured actor. We froze our butts off on this set and unfortunately I ended up with bronchitis and was unable to return for the final days of filming. I wish I had been able to say goodbye and thanks to him. I was unaware of his troubles with substance abuse as he was lucid and clear of thought when I talked to him. I wish him only the best and hope he is able to find the peace he deserves with sobriety. On a personal note..... WES..... You smoked all my cigarettes you turkey 😉

  • azi says:

    >of course, he’d have to be willing to return to some of those dark places, playing yet another sexy gay blood-junkie on HBO’s biggest hit.
    Huh? What is that referring to?!

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