A day with Gregory Harrison

Gregory Harrison


Harrison had a difficult childhood; his parents divorced when he was 11. “Probably the reason why I started smoking and drinking,” he said. “I thought it was my fault. It took me years to get through all that. When you’re a kid you feel guilty, you ask yourself what you did wrong. Then you accept that it wasn’t your fault, and you understand that you’re not guilty but when you’re 15 and you want to go to Hollywood, you have to deal with all that at once...that was my cross to bear.”
© Courtesy of Gregory Harrison collection - Gregory Harrison
© Courtesy of Gregory Harrison collection
During a trip to Indonesia last March, he realized that “Indonesians are happier than people here in America. Despite all the problems they have to face that we don’t have to face here, they seem to appreciate their everyday lives much more than most of us and take advantage of simple pleasures that we don’t notice anymore, or take for granted. They have to manage to get good and find medical help, but they find happiness in a whole range of things, mainly family, community, nature, and spirituality. These elements are necessary to their culture and their happiness. They don’t really worry about material things or social status.”
Harrison is a firm believer in the idea that you make your own happiness, and have to be at peace with yourself. “I consider myself a lucky man. I was born in the US, I’m physically in shape, my four kids are healthy and in the last 60 years, I’ve survived all sorts of things: the Army, Vietnam...I’ve gone through all kinds of things in my career, the slippery slope of drugs, alcohol, I went to rehab.” 
This habit for drugs and alcohol almost cost him everything when he was 37. Like all actors who start out in Hollywood, easy money and drugs don’t mix. “ I’ve been sober for almost 25 years, haven’t touched a drop of alcohol. I decided not to turn back and it’s going well. I’m much more serene. I started smoking cigarettes when i was 11, and cocaine at 29. At 37, I was done, creatively done for. I didn’t feel anything anymore, it was really selfish. I was losing my career and my family. It took me nine years to decide to stop, to reconnect with myself and my spirituality. I leanred life lessons that changed me, I’m the same man but I’ve distanced myself from things that distracted me and kept me from being the man I wanted to be. I was confused; fame money...it’s easy to lose yourself. I want to respect the pact that i made with myself that I wouldn’t take risks that might lead me to lost what I’ve regained. I’ve decided to live and be a good person, as good as I can be.”
Harrison lives simply in Ventura, between Santa Barbara and Malibu. He drives a Passat, surfs during his free time and defines himself as a surfer (yes, we left the best for last), then an actor. 
During our conversation, he admits he was surprised that I chose to interview him. “Why me?” he asked. “Why not?” I answered. But really, why should we be interested in Gregory Harrison? For the same reason it seems strange that we are: he has rarely been covered by the media. It’s refreshing to get out of the over-recycled “Brangelinas” and “Clooneys” and others, who don’t really bring much to the table anymore except a heartfelt speech about their various humanitarian causes. Harrison has a joie de viver that makes us green with envy.
With his masculine traits and almost feline eyes, he doesn’t have to try to be notice. However, he still considers himself a simply guy, and has a lot to teach us, without games or artifice, on his perception of life. 
Happy?  “Really lucky,” is how he puts it while strolling down California Street, where he’s about to show me another one of his talents: surfing!
Several meters from shore, I see Harrison like a teenager on a surfboard, twisting between the waves. It’s true,  he’s a really good surfer. Well, it’s kind of the story of his life. 
©KC Alfred
©KC Alfred


Love & Sex Editor
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