These next series of posts are going to be a slight departure for me, I’m well known for my reviews in the comic book genre and my interviews with the various alumni regarding them, but there’s a book which weaves such a fascinating, true narrative of an intensely courageous woman and I want to share it with you.
Claudia Christian is an American actress, best known for her roles in such science fiction blockbusters such as Babylon 5, starring in the A-Team, Quantum Leap and recently in NCIS. She has also graced the video game industry with vocal talent in Starcraft II, Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
She has enjoyed a stellar career through the acting profession and has a strong fan base for the sincerity and depth she brings to popular characters. But she is also a writer, a novelist and a musician. It’s her writing which I want to take a look at over the next few weeks, starting with her biography Babylon Confidential : A Memoir of Love, Sex and Addiction.
When I started reading this book, I didn’t know Claudia very well at all, I, of course remembered her from Babylon 5 – which many would have considered her break out performance, but my association with her was from short conversations regarding her passionate avocation of the The Sinclair Method as a validated scientific treatment for those suffering from alcoholism. Nothing had quite prepared me for what I encountered in the first few chapters detailing her childhood.
We often see only the success and the glamour of the established Hollywood actor or actress, never the events which led to that elevation of status and many biographies – whether self-penned or not, invariably omit some of the most tragic circumstances regarding an icon’s past. Not so with this publication, we learn of Claudia’s experiences of her parent’s beginning to drift apart, her brother’s untimely death at the hands of a drunk driver, her rape by a drunk neighbour…There’s a frankness to these events, which had me feeling, not just sympathy nor empathy, but of astonishment at how she coped and worked through these circumstances.
But, as she terms it, even in these early moments of her life, a monster was forming.
Claudia writes about the difficulties in which she found herself in when starting her journey to becoming an actress, her first break and her romances throughout her career are told in a captivating style and perhaps more importantly in an honest, heartfelt way. This isn’t a biography which dishes the dirt salaciously, but in some cases as we walk with Claudia though the richness of her life, there’s a sense of tribute with the great loves she was blessed with and some sadness with the betrayals and moments of genuine heartbreak.
This isn’t a checklist of the rich and the famous that she has dated through her life, but , perhaps, more moments of reflection – I was especially touched by how she wrote about Dodi Fayed, bringing the relationship, the fun and the friendship to life – perhaps in a way, bringing that man back to life again, for those who never knew him, for perhaps, a few minutes…
But we have to return to the monster, the monster who has been building momentum, the presence which seems to have been there since the start of Claudia’s narration.
Alcoholism is something we as a society rarely discuss, if we do, it’s in a derogatory way, in a way which can at times deny the humanity of those who suffer from this addiction. This is the heart of the book for me, the relaying of Claudia’s darkest moments, some of them showing us the moments of true despair in wanting desperately to be cured, to be helped, but the same cycle of destructiveness occurring over and over again. Claudia narrates this time in her life repeatedly as ‘The Monster”, a tangible presence which lurks throughout her moments away from alcohol, waiting for her to imbibe again.
As we journey with her through these moments, we get a sense of her own personal struggle, excellently written and told in a manner which is neither self-defeating or self-pitying. This woman is a fighter, and she found her way back. This is the triumph of Claudia Christian, not just this book, not just her career – which even today is taking her to new heights, but her recovery.
Through The Sinclair Method Claudia found a way to overcome her addiction, she chronicles countless previous attempts, using traditional methodology, alternative therapies, but these just didn’t work. This book not only describes her life, it champions the creed the Options Save Lives.
I was very privileged to have Claudia talk to me a little about her career and her earnest work helping fellow addicts find help.
Chris: Claudia, you have such a rich and varied career – many fans know you from Babylon 5 and your recent vocal acting in Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Halo 4 – but some might not realise that you have creative talent as a writer as well. Can you tell me a little about how that developed and what inspires your writing?
Claudia: I started writing when I was a little girl, it was a creative escape for me and I just kept on throughout the years…books, memoirs, novels, scripts ….but out of the dozens of things I loved to write only a couple have been published or optioned!
I’m a bit of a book lover so I have obsessively read since I was very young, I usually have about 6 books going at the same time, I like to dip into various times of history and worlds, characters etc. People, life and experiences inspire me .
Chris: I was particularly impressed with your Autobiography – to me, it’s an account of childhood lost, making it in Hollywood etc but the full and frank account of your battle with alcoholism was extremely moving.
How do you hope that writing about this section of your life will affect others? and did some of these revelations change how friends/family viewed you once it was published?
Claudia: Writing Babylon Confidential was really my attempt to tell the world about The Sinclair Method…and if I was as famous as Tom Cruise then it would have, unfortunately I’m just a working actress who never got her “big break” so the book didn’t reach as many people as I’d have liked it to.
That was good in a way because it inspired me to make my documentary “One Little Pill” and to start my non profit foundation: C Three Foundation, so at the end of the day the books mediocre reach propelled me to work even harder for what I believe in. It was also extremely cathartic to get this stuff out in the open and to be honest. Society has shamed addicts long enough, that attitude is antiquated, barbaric and deadly.
People with brain disorders like addiction need to be treated with love and respect and scientifically proven treatments just like anyone else suffering from a disease should be.