12.07.10

Jeremy London Seeks Redemption

When London said in June he’d been kidnapped and forced to do drugs, no one believed him. When he was exonerated, no one noticed. Now he’s getting the word out on Celebrity Rehab.

Last June, Jeremy London, the star of Mallrats and Gods and Generals who had once set teen hearts ablaze on 7th Heaven and as Neve Campbell's love interest on Party of Five, claimed that he'd been kidnapped and forced at gunpoint to do drugs:

It would sound like a tall tale under any circumstances—who gives away their drugs, let alone forces someone else to take them?—but it sounded even less believable because London had, a year earlier, been through rehab for an addiction to painkillers at Charter Oaks in Covina, California.

London is well aware of how ludicrous it sounds. "If I heard someone telling that story, I'd be like, 'No way, there's something you're not telling,'" he says. "But there's not."

The pot shots were relentless. First his identical twin brother, Jason London, and mother, Debbie Nielsen, popped up on E!, claiming that London was lying and that they were worried about him. Then the press had a field day. We're living in the Lohan age, after all, and press and public alike have come to be fairly cynical about what comes out of an addict's mouth—especially when that mouth is even partially famous.

The fact that London ended up proving his innocence—a detective testified on his behalf, saying that Brandon Adams, the man who'd originally claimed that London had partied with them willingly, confessed to the kidnapping—went virtually unnoticed.

But the matter hasn't been entirely put to bed. It is, in fact, being rehashed on the latest season of Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew (VH1, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.), which features London along with Tiger Woods tabloid princess Rachel Uchitel; reality-show regular Janice Dickinson; former teen heartthrob Leif Garrett; Laguna Beach alum Jason Wahler; mother-to-Keyshia-Cole, Frankie Lons; and oil heir Jason Davis.

"I don't know exactly what happened to Jeremy and I don't care," says Dr. Drew Pinsky in an interview. "It's for the courts to figure out—and they did. But I've learned that when it comes to addicts, the most fantastic things turn out to be true and the most truthful-sounding things turn out to be false." Pinsky is nevertheless certain that whatever happened, "it had something to do" with London's addiction. "One of the men from that night reminded him of someone who’d abused him," Pinsky continues. "And people subconsciously gravitate toward their abusers."

London is the first to admit that his early life wasn’t easy. His parents were divorced, he had a peripatetic childhood, and a brother and sister both died in car accidents. But he and his twin were, he says, always close—until recently.

"The problems with my brother started when he began dating a girl [actress Sofia Karstens] I had," he says. (She and Jason just announced their engagement.) "She has completely demolished my family and right now, the relationship's irreparable."

“I’ve learned that when it comes to addicts,” Dr. Drew says, “the most fantastic things turn out to be true and the most truthful-sounding things turn out to be false.”

Ironically perhaps, it's Jason—who is also an actor, and starred as Randy "Pink" Floyd in 1993’s Dazed and Confused—who helped Jeremy get sober. A lifelong pot smoker who had "tried every other drug over the years," Jeremy leaned on weed all the more when his siblings died. He graduated to painkillers after a series of motorcycle racing and snowboarding accidents caused a high-school football back injury to flare up. "I would get sick whenever I stopped taking them," he says.

Jeremy knew Pinsky because he'd gone on Loveline when Mallrats came out; when he decided that enough was enough and he wanted to get off the pills, he called a friend who called Jason who called Pinsky. Pinsky helped him find Charter Oaks.

But when Pinsky asked London to come on Celebrity Rehab, the actor turned him down. "I had seen the show and had not thought about going on it," London says with a laugh. "It's not where you hope to end up!" But when Pinsky said they could also help London's wife, actress Melissa Cunningham, "that's when I signed on." (Cunningham, who was with London the night he was kidnapped but insisted on getting dropped off before anything went awry, also appears on Celebrity Rehab; she and London are technically still married but separated. She's currently sober and living in Colorado.)

While London and Cunningham "get along really well now—much better than we did when we were together," he admits that she's the one who started rumors that he and Uchitel were having an affair. "She likes to be in those stupid rag mags," London says of Cunningham. "She likes drama—she really thrives on it. But I don't. And she's grown up a lot." He and Uchitel are, he says, "like brother and sister. We're definitely not lovers of any kind. But I have to say, I was so impressed with her."

London has nothing but praise for everyone from Celebrity Rehab—including seemingly impossible-to-praise people like smarmy Jason Davis (known to TMZ readers as “Gummi Bear”). "Rachel and Jason [Wahler] are good friends of mine," he says. "And Jason Davis is cool." He says he got "so much more out of the show than I ever expected" and that it helped prevent him from relapsing and also with the PTSD he had from the kidnapping.

If London has any regrets, it's that he came clean with the cops about being forced to do drugs the night of the kidnapping because it backfired on him so badly. As far as his abductors’ motivations, he says a psychologist told him that criminals will sometimes force their victims to get high "so they can claim the victim was partying with them or to just to make the person an unreliable witness," he says. "I don't know exactly why they did it but I do know that the whole thing spun me out for a long time."

Dr. Drew concurs. "He had full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder when he came to us," Pinsky says. "When I sat down to talk to him and his wife—I think it's in Episode 4—your head spins like a top because you can see that they didn't know what was real and what wasn't."

Now Jeremy London is living in reality—and discovering that it isn't so bad after all. "I hardly ever get depressed anymore," he says. "And I can remember things. I used to have great creative ideas and then forget about them the next day." Though he's been writing and playing country western music since he was 15—both his father and grandfather played—he'd never considered doing anything professionally with it until now. (When we spoke, he was in Nashville recording a few songs.)

"It's always been my getaway—my Valium, if you will," he says. "And I used to think I couldn't play or write music if I wasn't stoned. But I'm actually so much better. Drugs helped me in the beginning—I could mingle and relax and connect with people when I played—but when I went from pot to other drugs, I started believing I couldn't be creative without them and that just wasn’t true." He also shot a movie, wants to direct documentaries and is writing a script. Yet his primary focus is fatherhood: He and Cunningham have a 3-year-old son, Lyrik, who's  living with Cunningham's mother in Palm Springs. "I spend 90 percent of my time there," London says. "We make our son our priority and honestly, we didn't do that before."

Anna David is the author of the novels Party Girl and Bought and has written for The New York Times, Playboy, Details, Cosmo, and Redbook, among other publications. She appears on CBS, NBC, Fox News and many other networks regularly. Her most recent book, Reality Matters, is an anthology of essays that she edited about reality shows.