“There’s a generational issue going on,” Zak, 38, said during Apple TV+’s docuseries The Me You Can’t See, appearing to reference his father, who died from suicide in 2014 at age 63. “I’ve experienced mental health issues my entire life.”
Zak went on to explain that he had “obsessive compulsive disorder” along with “really bad insomnia, a lot of energy and a racing mind,” noting these were traits he had “inherited.”
“As an adolescent, I found using alcohol and drugs helped me calm my mind. It became a very normal experience to rely on them and things like that to manage the racing mind,” Zak shared. “I started to realize elements of myself that were like [Robin]. My anxiety, my bouts of depression, OCD, drugs, drinking like him.”
Zak said that when he wasn’t “self-medicating” it was hard for him “to get through the day.”
“The weird thing for me is I would use uppers, cocaine and the like to calm down. I talked to my dad about it, he was similar,” the actor continued, explaining that he and his dad started to have “a deeper, more profound understanding of one another” when Robin stopped drinking. Zak recalled this being around the same time “that I first realized I had a problem.”
“So we engaged around that. I wanted to be able to get to know him better, I didn’t understand what he had been through,” Zak said.
Prior to his passing, the Good Will Hunting star often spoke about his addiction struggles. In a profile for The New York Times in 2009, Zak commented on his dad’s stint in rehab at the time and said, “I’m pretty confident that if he continued drinking, he would not be alive today.”
Now that he is a father, Zak said he hopes to “break a generational cycle.” He welcomed son McLaurin Clement, whose name is a nod to the late Robin, with wife Olivia June in May 2019. “There’s a major opportunity to show up for my son clear-eyed and focused,” Zak said during The Me You Can’t See. “To be there for him.”
Zak is Robin’s only son with ex-wife Valerie Velardi. The Aladdin star also welcomed a daughter Zelda, 31, and a son Cody, 29, with Marsha Garces.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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