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]