Hollywood actor, Gary Busey, says he’s found freedom from drug addiction after decades of drug abuse and numerous brushes with death. The Academy Award nominee says he has finally found restoration and peace in Jesus.
Gary is best known for roles in films like Lethal Weapon and Point Break, as well as his perhaps-less-than-Christian lifestyle tending towards women and cocaine. In 1988, Busey’s life changed forever when he overturned his motorcycle. The actor fractured his skull and he suffered permanent brain damage. This extreme hardship ignited Busey’s interest in religion, and in 1996, he announced that he had officially become a Christian. Busey says, “I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time I am now free to be myself.”
William Gary Busey, a prolific character actor, has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon (1987), Predator 2 (1990), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), The Firm (1993), Carried Away (1996), Black Sheep (1996), Lost Highway (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), The Gingerdead Man (2005), Quigley (2003), and Piranha 3DD (2012). Gary also made guest appearances on television shows such as Gunsmoke, Walker, Texas Ranger, Law & Order, Scrubs, Impractical Jokers, and Entourage.
“I saw angels,” Gary Busey told Larry King in 2005, referring to his near-death experience on an operating table after his 1988 motorcycle accident. “And they don’t look like what they look like on Christmas cards,” he added. “They’re big balls of light that float and carry nothing but love and warmth.” That led to his 1996 announcement: “I am proud to tell Hollywood I am a Christian. For the first time, I am now free to be myself.”
In this interview with Christian Walk, Gary Busey discusses his faith in Jesus Christ.
TERRY MEEUWSEN: Gary Busey’s unforgettable role in “The Buddy Holly Story” earned him an Oscar nomination in 1978, and since then, he’s starred in over 60 Hollywood films, including blockbusters like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Firm.”
But until recently, his off-screen behavior and reputation as a drug addict overshadowed his talent and success. But he’s here now to share the dramatic turnaround that saved his life and his career. Gary, welcome.
Mr. GARY BUSEY: Thanks.
MEEUWSEN: You were raised in a Christian home, and then decided, when you grew up, you wanted to go to Hollywood. What motivated you?
Mr. BUSEY: It was even earlier when I was in the first grade, I saw a movie called “Samson and Delilah,” the Cecil B. DeMille film, and when it was over, I said to my mother, “Where do all the people go?” And she said, “They go out, and another audience comes in to see the picture show.” And I said, “No, not those people, the people up there.” She said, “You mean the people in the picture show?” And I said, “Yes.” She said, “Well, they go off and they do another picture show, and so we’ll come and see it.” And I said, “That’s what I want to do.” And she said, “You want to be in the picture show?” And I said, “No, I want to tell stories with light.”
Mr. BUSEY: And light stands for L-I-G-H-T, which stands for Living In God’s Heavenly Thoughts.
MEEUWSEN: For a lot of parents — if their child said, “I want to go to Hollywood and get into this business,” a lot of parents would balk at that. Your mom and dad really supported you, didn’t they?
Mr. BUSEY: Well, my dad told me I could do anything I wanted to do. I was raised as a Christian, baptized when I was 12, but I didn’t really have any idea of what it was like to be a true, full-blooded Christian until I went through the experiences that God gave me to go through …
Mr. BUSEY: … which were cocaine, which were extravagant living in the fast, fast, fast, fast, fast lane, see?
Mr. BUSEY: He gave me those experiences and he’s always there with me.
MEEUWSEN: Now having grown up like that, Gary, when you were in the midst of all the things that you did when you were in the “far country,” so to speak, did you think about God at that time? What went through your mind?
Mr. BUSEY: Of course not. There’s no way to think about God. There’s no reason to.
Mr. BUSEY: ‘Cause your number-one relationship is with the dark side of you …
Mr. BUSEY: … your shadow, the dark side. C.G. Hume writes about it, in terms of the fact that every one of us has a dark side. And my dark side, my shadow, my lower companion is now in the back room blowing up balloons for kids’ parties. And I also learned that addiction is a failed search for spirituality. Because I OD’d May 3rd, 1995, on cocaine and GHB, and it was that OD that sent me to Palm Springs with a felony on my head, and that’s when I, for the first time in my life, actually really and truly surrendered to God.
Mr. BUSEY: And then I went to the Promise Keepers after that, after my felony was dismissed, and I rededicated my life to Christ. And Bishop Wellington Boone was there, and I met him after the meeting, and I said, “I want to do this,” and he said, “You’ll reach a lot of people because of what you do.” And my first Promise Keeper meeting I spoke at I had a chance to sit-down with Coach McCartney. This man is filled with love, treasure and intensity. And I’m not usually at a loss for words, but sitting with Coach McCartney, I was all ears and all heart. I was opened up in every way. I felt like a child. And I felt truly like a child of God, which we all are.
And Bishop Wellington Boone was there when I spoke for the first time, and he sent me a beautiful book that I recommend every husband to get, and it’s called, “Your Wife is Not Your Mama,” and it’s by Bishop Wellington Boone. And I had no idea what it was like to be a husband, and I started reading the book, and it talked about, “You should love your wife like Christ loves the church. You should be her servant. You should be her biggest fan.” The book is this thick so it has a lot more to say than that, and it’s a step beyond “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” My wife Tiani and I have four books and we have the videotapes.
But God sends messages every day. It’s not that he answers prayers or he’s gonna show up to you like a king in armor; he’s there with you every day and he gives you messages with something you see, or especially something you feel.
Mr. BUSEY: But the main messages come from experiences you go through. Like my cocaine addiction, like my motorcycle wreck, where I hit the curb going 45 miles an hour and split my skull and I went out of my body to a very special place where I saw light. I saw circles of light, which I define as angels who talked to me in thought with androgynous voices. These experiences that were all given is no greater than anyone else’s — but the experiences we have are given to us by God, especially the hard ones. And having cancer, having the drug overdose, having missed death in a car accident out by Albuquerque and the OD — I’ve had four chances to split but as I was told by the light when I was out of my body, I could come now or I could return to my body and continue my destiny. It’s your choice. These experiences that made me come to the point of being a full-blooded, upright Christian working for Jesus and God as modern-day disciple. And in the Hollywood industry of making movies I’m in, it’s a tough one.
MEEUWSEN: How has Hollywood responded to your being so forthright about your new commitment to Christ? What do people think?
Mr. BUSEY: They’re surprised and they’re in wonderment, and they go, “Oh, come on.” But they know what I’ve been through. I’ve been doing this 27 years. They know what I’ve been through. It’s been pretty much in the press, and they seen my action and my behavior, and I’ve made amends. When you’re on cocaine, you have nothing else in your life that’s sacred to you than your relationship with drugs. So they know that. They know what I’ve been through.
And guess what works, though? Actions speak and your behavior patterns, your discipline. My gosh, there is a discipline to being a human being. And I’m telling you, it’s very important.
And let me talk to you about the power of prayer. Prayer should be in appreciation, not in supplication. When you go to pray for, “Oh, I need a new home, I need a better job, I need a relationship that works, I need this, I need this, I need that,” the first thing you do when you pray from now on is start by thanking Jesus. Start by thanking the Lord God for what you have, because he knows what you want before you ask it, and if you do it with praise first, that’s the biggest thing for God, is praise and affirmation. And if you pray with thankfulness and you know in the Bible it says, “If you ask for it, I will give it to you,” but you must ask for it in appreciation. That’s a big step, learning to pray, and I’ve learned that because I pray every day.
MEEUWSEN: Thank you for being with us today.