Elliott Gould discussed his past drug use in a new interview, including marijuana, mescalin, and more.
How you were first introduced to Elliott Gould has almost everything to do with your age, and a little to do with your taste in culture. If you grew up in the 70s, you probably remember him on M*A*S*H or the private detective Phillip Marlow in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Those of Generation X and millennials likely first consider Gould as Ross and Rachel’s dad in Friends or perhaps part of the gang in Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans flicks.
That distinction flares up in a recent Guardian interview where Gould discusses his up-and-down-and-up-again career, his failed marriage to Barbra Streisand, and his past drug use. In response to whether he had a drug problem, Gould told the Guardian: “I had a reality problem.” But it was his follow-up response that went viral this week.
“Of course I smoked marijuana,” he told the Guardian. “I don’t do that now, because I’m centered and balanced and I don’t want to alter that.”
His candidacy may have surprised younger folks, but anyone who knew the Elliott Gould of the 70s, this news would come as no surprise. According to Barbra Streisand’s biography, Gould escorted Barbra Streisand to the 1969 Academy Awards, although the married couple had recently separated. Upon his arrival, Streisand realized Gould had been smoking marijuana. A friend said Gould’s “tell” when high was that he’d tug on his ear twice every time the camera cut to the couple
In an infamous interview with Playboy, Gould discussed why he used cannabis and why he preferred the substance over drinking.
“If one understands himself, there can be no harmful effects in using it. Marijuana doesn’t make me do anything that I wouldn’t be capable of doing otherwise,” he said. “I find it far more pleasant than drinking, less messy and more private. I never had the patience to sit in a bar and drink. Having a joint is far more economical and more immediate. I’m able to switch into certain inner places with marijuana. I’ve also taken a couple of trips that have been incredible.”
Ah yes, a couple of trips. As Gould told the Guardian, he did experiment with “mind-altering drugs” like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and mescaline. “I had some experience with that and did some work behind it,” he told the publication. He expanded on those experiences 50 years earlier in Playboy.
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“Last year, I took mescaline and then went to Disneyland, of all places,” he said. “I sat there for hours and watched the Indian dancers who go on every 20 minutes. They came out of a tepee led by a guide who carried a microphone. I was able to better understand just how crassly commercial their routine was and why it sickened me. It was very illuminating.”
Elliott Gould may not relive his past experiences as he once did, but you can be certain he had his fun in the sun. If you were a Gould fan in the 70s, you probably already knew that.