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Piers Morgan Live
Interview With Tom Arnold
Aired July 24, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MORGAN PIERS, HOST: If all you know about Tom Arnold is his marriage to Roseanne Barr, you don't know the half of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM ARNOLD, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Jenny Craig hired myself and my ex-wife -- offered us $10 million to lose 20 pounds. Who could not lose 20 pound for $10 million? I can think of two fat (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS: The comic man has been in more than 100 movies and dozens of TV shows. He went for working a meat packing plants in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Were you a good hog slayer?
ARNOLD: I was. My nickname was gunner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Palling around with his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: He can no longer make fun of the women that I've been with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tom is a man who can make just about anything funny. He tells his side to his story, and tonight, he sits down with me for a candid conversation about his battle with various addictions --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: Your brain chemistry changes, cocaine, alcohol, and all those drugs and it didn't give me what I was looking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The dark childhood secret and his extraordinary roller coaster life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: I was -- I am an alcoholic. And I was getting married a bunch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tom Arnold for the hour.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
MORGAN: Here with my special guest, Tom Arnold.
Tom, you've got a new DVD out. "Tom Arnold: That's My Story and I'm Sticking to It." What does that mean?
ARNOLD: Well, I tell a lot of stories in my standup act that, you know, or my points of view of different things. And I think it's just a play on that. You know I talk about I have a certain amount of -- something about relationships, maybe some Hollywood stories, about people that you know, friends of mine, most of them, and I think that's what it is.
MORGAN: I mean it's a remarkably candid thing to watch. I mean, you are -- you've have had quite a life. To put it mildly, haven't you?
ARNOLD: Well, I think if you do standup, the kind of standup I like, you've got to tell the truth and you know hopefully you've had some interesting things. The saddest things, the most painful things, are oftentimes the funniest. So yes, I -- you know before I did the special, I did some specials in '91, '92, '93, with Judd Apatow -- my first HBO specials.
And I wanted to do some more so I spent two years going in front of audiences, finding out what they knew about me. I hoped that they didn't know everything, you know?
ARNOLD: But they did. They do, even young people. So I felt like I had to address it in this special and then maybe I can move on from it finally.
MORGAN: It's interesting when you say that the saddest stuff is often the most comic in terms of its potential. Is there anything about your life that you can't joke about?
ARNOLD: Well, I can't think of anything. There are things that are better than others. You know, I think if -- it's hard to find a way to make child abuse funny. You know, sexual abuse. You know, but I think there's probably a way. I think someone could do it.
Since it happened to me, you know, I own it a little bit. I can -- I can direct people where I want, and you know nothing is off-limits.
MORGAN: Let's just play a little clip from the DVD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: America has got the fattest poor people on the planet. I tell you, our poor people weigh 400 pounds. They smoke four packs of cigarettes a day. I'm not too worried. You know what I'm saying? You go to Africa, their poor people look hungry. But we're Americans, damn it!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: Yes. I'm from Iowa.
MORGAN: You are. But you're also -- I mean, you are considerably smaller than I thought you might be.
ARNOLD: I'm working on it. Yes, people would think I'm shorter and fatter.
MORGAN: You're in good shape.
ARNOLD: They always say that. I'm 6'2", you know, 240. They think I'm 300 pounds, 5'6".
MORGAN: I mean have you had sort of an ongoing battle with --
ARNOLD: My gosh --
MORGAN: Your weight, the way you look, everything?
ARNOLD: My battle with food and my weight is the core of every -- of my alcoholism, of everything. You know my self-esteem is tied to that. And so it's been a battle since I was a kid.
MORGAN: And how are you feeling these days about the way you look?
ARNOLD: I need to lose some weight. I need -- I've lost some weight, but I need to lose more.
MORGAN: You don't look bad.
ARNOLD: I've never been happy. I thought I was fat when I was thin. You know when I was a kid, I was afraid to take my shirt off in front of other kids. And so -- and when you come from a farming area, that's hard. You know? You get a farmer tan. But I think I'm still -- my self-esteem is caught up in it.
MORGAN: You worked as a young guy in a meatpacking plant in Iowa.
MORGAN: Did you remember that experience well?
ARNOLD: I remember working at Hormel very well. The good things, I had a lot of friends there. They still work there.
It was hard work. It was a good job. I had insurance. And I really -- you know, it was best job in Ottumwa, Iowa, to get at that time.
It also was a place without windows. There is a lot of death. We killed 5,000 hogs a day. That can get on -- you know, it can get on your nerves a little bit.
MORGAN: Were you a good hog slayer?
ARNOLD: I was. My nickname was gunner. People get very upset out here when I tell them that, but they don't realize where the meat comes from. We try to do it in a humane way, but it's tough. It's a rough business.
MORGAN: These people in L.A., for example, who criticized. Were they eating a bacon sandwich at the time, don't they?
ARNOLD: Absolutely. You know, even if it's turkey bacon, they had to kill an animal.
But I always said, you now, coming from Iowa, I'm proud of Iowa. But I've -- you know, it starts -- you start thinking about things a little bit. And I think I've been a little more introspective about my time at the meat-packing plant.
MORGAN: In what way?
ARNOLD: I mean, they are animals.
MORGAN: Do you feel guilty?
ARNOLD: Probably. Yes. I'm sure
MORGAN: Do you ever wonder if your life hadn't taken a deviation in standup, do you ever wonder if you could -- if you were still there now?
ARNOLD: You know, when I don't feel -- you know, I got fired from Hormel. Got arrested for public nudity in an old folks' home.
ARNOLD: So -- yes, it was first --
MORGAN: Wait, wait, wait. Rewind here. Rewind. Slow down.
You did what?
ARNOLD: Well, me, Mike, and Mo, who are still buddies of mine to this day, there's nothing to do in Ottumwa, Iowa, after 10:00. I called in sick to work. You know they had a strike system, the union. Three strikes, you're out. So, I always had two and then one would expire. I called in sick for work and the party ended at 10:00, and I said, on the way back to -- I was staying at Indian Hills Community College. On the way back there, let's streak. The only thing that's open were the diner and Jefferson Square Manor.
We went to the diner, there wasn't anybody there. It didn't satisfy us. So, we knew the nurses at Jefferson Square Manor.
It wasn't for the people. They're already asleep. And we came running through there and the nurses called the police, and I got arrested, handcuffed behind my back. You know in the middle of main street in December, a cold December day.
MORGAN: What was that moment like?
ARNOLD: Terrifying. Because I said, I hope this is funny one day. I was powerless, you know, you're handcuffed. People are driving by, people I've known my whole life. And I said -- I prayed that this is funny one day, and here it's sort of funny. We're talking about it. My dad had to come bail me out of jail naked.
MORGAN: Hard to explain to your father what you've done.
ARNOLD: Especially my father, Jack. He -- very upright citizen, people love him, you know, at my hometown. And he had a son, his oldest son was crazy.
So, I put him through a lot of misery.
MORGAN: The naked hog slayer.
ARNOLD: Yes. Yes. Exactly.
MORGAN: Standup fame had saved you from all of this. When was the moment that you realized this could be a career, and not just a bit of fun for you?
ARNOLD: The first time I got offered a paying job, $15, I was in University of Iowa and I had some standup. You know they had an open mike night where you could come and tell jokes or you know read a poem or whatever. And I signed up for it. And I loved the response I was getting.
And then someone said, well, I live in Minneapolis, come up there and I'll give you a job. And so, I packed my stuff in a trash bag and got on a bus. Showed -- I had 100 bucks, showed up there, went to the club, thought, well, I've got a full-time job, you know, this is awesome. And they said, no, no, no, it's one night for $15.
And I got scared, and I went -- it was a bartender down the street. I did whatever I could to support it, but getting that $15 changed my life.
MORGAN: You are obviously inexorably linked to Roseanne Barr. And it would be --
ARNOLD: Wow. How is that -- yes.
MORGAN: I mean, is that a good thing or not a good thing for you?
ARNOLD: You know, but people have to understand, I haven't talked to her, you know, face to face in almost 18 years.
MORGAN: She's on Twitter. I communicate with her on Twitter.
MORGAN: Do you ever?
ARNOLD: No. She does two tweets that are interesting. But last December --
MORGAN: Do you follow her on Twitter?
ARNOLD: No. But maybe I should. Last December --
MORGAN: It might be the way that can bring you back together through Twitter.
ARNOLD: Yes, it would take Twitter, it would take a lot. You bet.
I'm very happy for her. You know, I'm happy that she has a new show. I hope people watch it. I want her to succeed. You know I'm grateful to her. I talk about that in my standup.
And, you know -- but it's so long ago that it seems odd.
She did e-mail me in December, started e-mailing me. Out of the blue. Random. I hadn't heard from her in many years. And I showed Ashley, my wife. And she let me write her back. And every other e-mail was really mean.
ARNOLD: It reminded me, she can't help it. She can't help it.
And, you know, my thing is, I got to be a stepfather for five years because of her. That is the best thing that's ever happened to me, until now. Ashley and I are planning our family. You know?
And that taught me a lot. It got me sober, you know, and this is all under her watch. You know if I hadn't had somebody in my corner like her, I'd be dead.
MORGAN: You were two irrepressible life forces when you met, two outrageous front-of-stage stand-ups who collided. I mean, it was probably always destined to end in tears. But I would imagine for a while, it must have been electrifying, wasn't it?
ARNOLD: Well, it was great fun because we met in 1983. I was 23 years old. And she came -- she lived in Denver. She wasn't famous at the time and she came to Minneapolis to perform. And we hit it off. We liked each other's act and there was something there. You know, we were friends for a few years, which we should have stayed. You know, when people talk about Ashley, my wife, was 7 when I met Roseanne. So, really, it couldn't have worked out with her anyway.
But, you know, it was fun. Watching her career, you know, go was -- you know, I was so proud of her. And she deserves it all, too.
MORGAN: You were like the comic version of Brangelina. I mean, every magazine splashing every detail of your alleged lives and real lives and so on. And were you living this crazy existence together.
Did any part of you missing that kind of chaotic exciting, you're center stage?
ARNOLD: Oh, I'm sure the alcoholic part of me, the self-destructive part of me misses it. But if we hadn't played into so much of that, she and I, we wouldn't be talking about it today. But we participated in that. So, we're responsible for a lot of that craziness.
MORGAN: Let me go --
ARNOLD: We're not victims. You know? The thing when I hear people talk about, oh, my God, she's so terrible, I -- people were -- looked down on me and I couldn't do anything. Well, you got $150 million from your show. Shut up and be happy.
MORGAN: Get over it.
MORGAN: When you go to a newsstand, do you ever have a little thought (ph) of, oh, I wish they were putting me on the cover again?
ARNOLD: Like I say, there's that voice inside of me, it's not a happy voice that does.
MORGAN: The bad boy.
ARNOLD: We literally were on there every week on all of them. So -- to keep that up, you've got to do a lot of crazy stuff. And we did.
MORGAN: There's a pressure to keep going!
ARNOLD: Yes. What can we reveal about ourselves, our intimate selves, you know? But it was too much, you know. First, there's a couple of decent work. I knew it was coming one day because literally everyone in her life she, you know, cut off. And I knew that I would be -- in fact, one of the writers, Rob Ewan (ph), one of the head writers, said that when I hired him, I said, you know, this job's going to last about two years, then you're going to be let go. I'll take care of you financially but I know one day I will be let go also.
So I think I probably kind of knew it. But it was sure fun -- you know, her career just went through the roof and it was fun to be part of that and to be important in her life. I felt that way. I felt I had to help keep her initial vision on the show, her initial vision, because she even changed.
My job at "Roseanne" was to say no. Nobody else could do that. I said no, you're not going to wrestle Steven Seagal on a train, not until after I leave. And when I left, she did.
MORGAN: I mean, see, I know she watches the show a lot because she tweets about it a lot.
ARNOLD: She'll be watching today.
MORGAN: Yes, exactly.
And what would you say to her if she's watching?
ARNOLD: I'd say good luck with your show. You know, I've said thank you to her many times. And I just hope she's -- it seems like her life is altogether now, I'm very happy, if you care. And I'm glad things worked out the way they did.
MORGAN: Do you think she'll be pleased that you're happy?
ARNOLD: Part of her, no. But I think that deep down I'm sure.
MORGAN: Let me take a little break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about --
ARNOLD: We aren't going to talk about Roseanne, are we, today?
I'm kidding. I'm kidding.
MORGAN: It's too late. I'll tell you the genie is out of the bottle. Sorry.
We are going to talk Arnold Schwarzenegger after the break, your friend.
ARNOLD: Good guy, good guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD: All right, buddy. It's going to be great. You know what? We're going to catch some terrorists. We're going to beat the crap out of them. You'll get to feel a hell of a lot better.
All right. Watch your head now, watch your head. OK. All right.
Women. Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: That was one of Tom Arnold's biggest roles in the blockbuster movie, "True Lies."
Rather impressive remarks there I think, Tom, to your old friend Arnold Schwarzenegger?
ARNOLD: Yes. Yes.
MORGAN: I've got to task you --
ARNOLD: He's a good man. He's a good man.
MORGAN: Well, look. You're great friends with him I know. And I know he's been -- he's been hinting there might be a -- a remake of "True Lies," which is that -- that great film, which was a huge hit.
Tell me about Arnold. Obviously, he's -- he's been through a pretty shattering few months. I -- I've known him -- not as well as you, certainly. But for a -- I've always liked him very much. What do you make of what's been going on?
ARNOLD: Well, you have to understand he grew up in a -- much like me in a small town in -- in Austria in his case. And I think that's what we bond on. You know, he -- he respects that coming from somewhere and doing something. You know, he's very charitable, you know? He's a -- this has been tough, because our relationship is based on a lot of humor.
And you know to find humor in all this has been hard. You know, I'm just his friend, unconditionally, just like he's been for me at the worst times of my life. And so, anything I can do for him.
And you know, I love Maria and the kids obviously, you know? And hopefully this thing gets better for him.
MORGAN: Were you -- were you as shocked as everybody else?
ARNOLD: Yes. Yes. You know, I mean, he -- obviously people don't share -- people don't share a lot of things with me. You know, if they're using drugs, or they're getting wasted, or -- or that, they don't necessarily share it with me. And I -- and I kind of appreciate that.
You know, if he'd have told me, you know, I'd have been there for him. You just -- I just have a -- we have an unconditional friendship.
MORGAN: Do you speak to him a lot about this?
ARNOLD: About what?
MORGAN: About what's been going on?
ARNOLD: Well, we see each other. You -- you say how are you, you know? And --
MORGAN: I mean, you said yourself. I mean, in your own life, the saddest stuff often makes the most comic material. At what point can you crack a joke about this?
ARNOLD: Well, the only joke that I can crack is that he can no longer make fun of the women that I've been with.
ARNOLD: You know? All right. But, you know, he -- he knows. You got to make a joke one day. And you know, this happened and people are close to him like Jim Cameron. You figure out what do we say? What do we -- you know?
And you know, he's got a pretty thick skin.
MORGAN: How is he dealing with it on a human level? You become a kind of soap opera star when this kind of thing happens. It is very cataclysmic to everyone on the outside.
But to him personally, just as a guy, a friend of yours, how is he dealing with it?
ARNOLD: He's always been tough about that stuff. As far as, you know, he doesn't want anyone to think he's in pain or when he's broke his limbs or whatever, he always plays it up a little bit. And I think this is the same.
He doesn't want to be a burden on his friends or people in general and that's probably the biggest -- the toughest thing about this is that people are like, oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry, whatever. He doesn't want to be that guy.
I know that deep down inside, you know, he's feeling all of this. Obviously he is. But he doesn't share that with people. You know, I can see a little bit -- of course, he's a human being and of course, it's tough. But I think he wants to move on.
MORGAN: There is this talk of the remake of "True Lies." Is that a go, or is it -- but might that happen?
ARNOLD: I think it's a go. I had -- it may not be the next movie he does. But, you know, we'll eventually do it. And --
MORGAN: You've been talking about it?
ARNOLD: Absolutely, we've been talking about it.
ARNOLD: Plus, it's great fun. Will you do "True Lies" -- are you still talking about that? It's been 17 years, and I still -- I'm not giving up on it, you know?
And I love -- if you work with people that you love like him, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jim Cameron, you -- obviously you want to do that again, and again, and again.
And that's -- you know, for 17 years, I've been talking about it. And we're still talking about it. And that's good enough for me now. MORGAN: But people get very judgmental when these scandals break, most because they don't know the person concerned. The -- what kind of man is Arnold Schwarzenegger?
ARNOLD: I think Arnold is a great man. I think, you know, everybody makes mistakes. We're human beings.
I'm not saying that anything he did is a mistake. But, you know, he's a great man. He's very -- you know, I learned a lot about myself. You know, being of service to other people. You know, with the inner city games that he started.
You know, he always said, "My movie work is equally important with my service work. You know, my charity work. And if people don't realize that, then they can't be a part of me."
You know, he's going around and, you know, he's working on the environment with Jim Cameron, and -- and doing things that are a little bit bigger outside of the movie business.
The movie business is his job, and he does enjoy the hell out of it. But, you know, there's other things that he cares about. And he -- he's done an amazing job.
MORGAN: You think he has physical aspirations or is that pretty well dead in the water, do you think?
ARNOLD: I don't know. I would guess it's pretty much dead in the water.
You know, he always wants to be of service. He always wants to be on some committee or heading a committee or doing something about this or doing something about that. Helping people eat.
MORGAN: I interviewed him and he has this incredible energy and is he a very good, fun guy, smart and everything else. I really like him.
ARNOLD: He's hilarious.
MORGAN: Do you feel because of that, because politics has now been shut down really for him, that the movies, which is what propelled him really into the stratosphere, that that may be the love again for him, that he may just go back to that?
ARNOLD: Absolutely. I mean, he did the political thing. You know, he was governor for two terms. You know, he did that. He's been, you know, the president's committee on physical fitness. He's done all that stuff.
So, now, he wants to have some fun and make some movies and people hopefully will remember him for that.
MORGAN: As a standup comedian, did you like making movies? Or is the process torture? Because on a -- on a stage you walk out, there's loads of people. You get instant reaction from an audience. And you walk off an hour and a half later with a big check in your pocket. Movies -- you know, it's three months filming. It's six months editing, promotion, and all the rest of it. And out it comes. And it might just bomb over night. I mean, it's like a -- it's a torturous process, isn't it?
ARNOLD: It is torturous, and it's monotonous. You know, you do things -- some directors have you do them 20 or 30 times in a row. And, you know, if you're an actor that started in comedy, that's rough because, you know, you wear out. But at the end, you know, if you're working with great people -- I just did a movie with Dax Shepard and Bradley Cooper, and you know, and Kristen Bell.
You know, every day there was something different with those guys, and fun.
And I see the joy that somebody like Bradley Cooper has to be there. And I'm thinking, well, he could do whatever he wants right now. You know, why -- he's just so happy to be there, and be in the moment. And I want to get some of that because I've done about 100 movies. And I want it still to be fun for me.
MORGAN: You've made 100 movies?
MORGAN: Which is your favorite?
ARNOLD: Well, I mean, I loved "True Lies" --
ARNOLD: -- because of what it did personally. And -- and it was great professionally. And a movie called "Happy Endings." I loved that.
ARNOLD: It's a smaller movie.
MORGAN: I remember it.
ARNOLD: Don Roos directed, and --
MORGAN: And the biggest turkey? The one you don't like to talk about in civilized company?
ARNOLD: I think there was one. I can't remember the name. People will ask me this.
That the -- the financiers' girlfriend played the lead. And I just -- I took it. It was a job, you know? I don't turn down much obviously. But it was a job.
And -- and it was rough. It was rough for her, to put her in that position.
ARNOLD: And I can relate to that, you know? So, yes, that was rough. I can't remember the name.
MORGAN: We'll be on a little break. When we come back I want to talk to you about alcohol, cocaine abuse. It's doing to be a cheery section.
ARNOLD: Let's party.
ARNOLD: I'm trying to remember if I had met you.
MORGAN: After all (ph), we did. It'd be a good party.
MORGAN: Back now with my special guest, Tom Arnold. Tom, I mean, you -- you've been there. You've done it. You've sniffed it. You've drunk it. You've lead the party life.
ARNOLD: Sniffed it.
MORGAN: There wasn't much you --
ARNOLD: -- a drug addict. They never sniff anything.
ARNOLD: No, I did -- I have done -- I have a lot of war stories. I have done -- you know, I took everything. Alcohol, drugs, street drugs, you know, to the -- to the max. I mean, there's nothing that I'm not addicted to, you know? Whether it'd be work, or you know, food is a big issue all the time.
MORGAN: You and Charlie Sheen go back a long way. I mean, when you were at your peak apparently, who -- who could out party the other?
ARNOLD: Well, Charlie is a private partier, you know? At least from what I can tell he kind of keeps -- he -- he holes up in his cave. That's at least the impression I get.
I can't imagine anybody doing more drugs than -- than I did and living. And you know, especially with cocaine. And you know, your resistance to these -- these drugs --
MORGAN: I mean, the -- there's recreational drug taking, and there's addiction. I mean --
MORGAN: -- at your worst, what are we talking in terms of consumption?
ARNOLD: I was about a half ounce a day --
ARNOLD: -- of cocaine. That's crazy. And I'm so grateful to be alive. And I don't know why I am.
MORGAN: Did you remember how that made you feel?
ARNOLD: Well, I will tell you this. The first time I tried cocaine, it made me feel great. It was in probably 1984. And then, every time after that, I tried to get that feeling of the first time. And I was chasing it.
And at the end, in 1989, every time I did cocaine I felt paranoid, depressed. And I -- I lied to myself and said, "Well, I'll get back to that place you were a few years ago."
But it doesn't happen. Your brain chemistry changes. Cocaine, alcohol, all those drugs, and it didn't give me what I was looking for.
MORGAN: Do you -- do you drink at all now?
ARNOLD: No. I haven't had a drink since 1988.
MORGAN: Literally nothing at all?
MORGAN: And do you ever get tempted?
ARNOLD: I watch people sometimes, normal people. And they are having a couple of drinks. I watch my wife and her friends, and I wonder what that's like.
But I know what's that like. I have 100 drinks. I mean, literally 20 drinks, get wasted, black out, get in a fight, do all that stuff. I know where it goes.
I remember -- it's like fresh. It's horrible, and then waking up the next day, and the shame, and the guilt. I -- that's what exactly would happen. I know. I tried to -- I went to my first 12 step meeting in 1986. It took me until 1989 to get -- you know, sober. So I know. I've tried every way possible drinking just beer, wine, whatever.
It doesn't work for me.
MORGAN: Did you have any regrets about it, or is it something that happened to you, that you're just pleased you moved on that was for a long time probably quite a bit fun? ARNOLD: I have regrets about the way I acted, you know, when I was using drugs and alcohol. And I had a lot of amends to make to people. People I was in relationships in the past, you know, in Iowa and the Midwest. And you know, I -- I was -- I used some very top notch women. Some great -- and they helped -- they helped me a lot. And I wasn't a good boyfriend.
MORGAN: You had a very tough upbringing in terms of you suffered this child abuse from a male babysitter. Your mother was married I think seven times. Clearly, a pretty chaotic domestic scenario there.
How much of what went on then do you think determined how you became in your earlier adulthood?
ARNOLD: Well, relationships-wise, if your mom leaves when you're four, you know, anything is possible. So you know that. In the back of your mind, you've got -- subconsciously, you know that if things start going bad in a relationship, she's leaving. Because if my mom left, I mean, anybody could leave.
So I -- my first three marriages lasted four years. My mom left when I was four. I mean, it's something I've really looked at and worked on with Ashley.
And, you know, I don't want to -- all my chips are on the table this time. I think I always held a little something back. And that was a detriment to those relationships. And also the -- the women I was with. And so I'm not doing that with Ashley now. And hopefully, for the best.
MORGAN: What happened to the abuser?
ARNOLD: Well, after I got sober, you know, you -- you spin through things, and you work on things. And I started really dealing with it 20 -- 21 years ago.
And I located him. He had moved from Ottumwa to Des Moines. I found out where he worked. He ran a business. He was a big church leader.
Because they don't quit, by the way. They -- they say that if they do one, they do 240 kids.
I went back to my old neighborhood. He had done it to his brothers. You know, he had done to a bunch of the kids. A lot of kids -- boys don't like to talk about it because they -- they think it's -- mistakenly think it's a homosexual thing.
It's obviously not. You're a victim of this man.
And so I went. I found him. I worked with my therapist.
I wanted to confront him, but I didn't to kill him, or beat the -- you know, get arrested again. Because the guy hurt me enough, right?
So I found him. Showed up where he worked. You know, he's like, "Oh, my gosh." And I -- right in front of everybody. And I gave him back the pain and shame he caused me as a kid.
MORGAN: What did you do?
ARNOLD: I just -- I just said what I had to say. He came towards me and put his finger on my chest and said, "Your memories are wrong" -- which tells me he's been confronted before. "Where did you come up with that?" He hadn't seen me in many years.
And I -- you know, I -- first I was scared. I will tell you that.
I felt like the four year old. But I remembered, "Oh, my God. He -- he was more violent than I thought." And he would take me in this back room to play the game, you know?
The reason I didn't tell my father is because he gave me a candy bar at the end. You know, like a big candy bar. And my dad didn't want me eating sugar, because of my -- you know, look at me.
And so -- plus I didn't know what it was. I didn't know what he -- you don't know what sex is if you're a kid. So I confronted him. And -- and -- and then, you know, as he came towards me, and I -- I realized wait, I'm -- I'm a grown man now. I'm not that kid.
And I grabbed his arm. And then I went back home. And -- and I --
MORGAN: Did you hit him?
ARNOLD: No. I didn't hit him. I just -- you know? But I -- I went right immediately to the governor of Iowa's office. It was down the road. And I said you got to do something about this guy. He's about to adopt another boy, which I had found out.
And he says, "Tom, you're not here. You can't tell me -- that's a federal offense you're asking me to do." And he goes, "Get out of here. Go back to California." I said, "Yes, but I'm worried about this kid. He's growing his own victims." "Whatever. Go back to California."
Got a call a couple days later from my brother. He said that the adoption had fallen through, some kind of paperwork thing.
So, he never -- I don't know what the governor did, but I appreciate it. And so, I said, "What about the kids in his neighborhood now?" So, I had my farm hands six blocks around his house put up posters of the guy, his name, his face, his crimes, kid high on every -- on every --
ARNOLD: -- you know, pole.
MORGAN: And did it bring you any kind of closure?
ARNOLD: Absolutely. Because I -- up till then, and I didn't want to admit it, every time I went back to Ottumwa and I was at the mall or something, I was like I am going to see this guy. And he's got a secret over me. And he's got some kind of weird power over me.
And so, I didn't want that to happen in front of people. And I didn't want it to have someone I was beholding to, because he, you know, raped me when I was a kid. I didn't want that to be -- you know, he had already done -- so by confronting him, and exposing him -- you know, I went on Oprah.
And -- and she said, "Don't say the name." I go, "OK. I'm not going to say the name, but let's call him blank." And I said the name right in the camera, because I wanted everybody to know, you know?
And so I think I did -- I did the best I could do. And I'm not ashamed. I mean, how could I be? But I was before that. I will tell you that. I was.
MORGAN: Of course.
Going to have a break and come back after. And talk about how you got yourself back on your feet, how you cleaned yourself up, and why -- and a bit more Charlie Sheen.
A bit more Charlie Sheen. You can never have enough Charlie Sheen.
MORGAN: Back with Tom Arnold.
Tom, you've been sober, as you said, for two decades. And more than that, you've become an activist in this area for other Hollywood types who fall off the rails, haven't you? I mean, including Charlie Sheen.
ARNOLD: Well, everybody that's sober reaches out and does service work. Or, you know, someone is in trouble. It just so happens that I work in Hollywood. So a lot of that is with my friends.
People have reached out to me, obviously. I wouldn't be sober if it wasn't for the friends I have. And -- and you know, in the beginning. And then even now.
So I think that -- you know, people talk about Hollywood being a bad place for drugs and alcohol. It's also a great place for recovery. There's a -- there's a lot of recovery here, and a lot of meetings, and a lot of help. And you know, it feels good to help people.
Obviously, it's a selfish thing. I help them. I feel good about myself. You know, that's a good thing.
And it always comes back, you know, when you need it the most, when you're down on yourself. And you say, "Wait a minute. But I actually did some nice things." OK. I might be OK.
MORGAN: What was the best advice you got in terms of cleaning yourself up? Who gave it to you?
ARNOLD: The best advice was to make it the priority of my day every day above my relationship witness, above my career. So, that should be number one priority. You say, well, I can't -- what about my marriage? No, if you aren't -- if I'm not sober then I don't have a marriage.
So, that's the best advice -- to make it a priority and work on it every day and never assume you got it licked because you never do. You got it licked for maybe today and that's all that -- all those slogans, one day at a time, all that stuff, that means something.
MORGAN: And who gave you that advice?
ARNOLD: Well, I got a lot of advice. You know, I'm grateful to my ex-wife for supporting me to get -- to make myself, make to get in the cab and go to rehab and check myself in. You know, if I didn't have someone who cared about me at that time, I don't know.
But I immediately got into some men's groups that have been -- were and have been great comfort to me. You know? There's something about men being together and sharing honestly about these intimate things and, you know, rigorously honest. And, you know, the humor that comes from that. And it's just made my life a lot better.
MORGAN: When you see someone like Charlie going through what he's been through the last few months, what's been your -- your view watching from afar?
ARNOLD: Well, you know, I love Charlie. He's a -- he's a really -- as you know, I saw you interview him -- a very sweet guy. I reached out to help him, because at the time he said, "No one is calling." What -- whatever. And I thought he might be in that scary place where you feel like you've been abandoned by the world.
So, I called because I -- I wanted him not to be able to say that. Plus, if you know Charlie, he reached out to a lot of other people when he was rolling in sobriety, and helped other people, including, you know, people he worked with on the -- the show.
So I said, "Well, if he's the kind of guy that always helps people, well, maybe I'll just let him know I'm here. And he knows where I am.
MORGAN: But I -- I was told that -- that you got a reaction from someone close to Charlie when you were trying to do this originally.
ARNOLD: Well, I tried to do it way back in -- in '88 or so -- '89. And I said, you know what? I had just gotten out of rehab in 1990. And I want everybody to be sober. You come out of there fired up, you know?
Thirty days of sobriety, and I know everything.
So I knew that Charlie was struggling with stuff. And -- and I'd heard some stories and seen him.
And so, I called his agent and said, "I need you to help. We'll do an intervention." And he's like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. I could lose too much money." Because interventions don't go well sometimes. "I'm not going to risk losing -- we make way too much from him." So, nobody would help me on it.
MORGAN: I mean, there in a nutshell is the immorality of Hollywood, isn't it?
ARNOLD: That's the immorality of -- of everywhere. You know, it's Hollywood, absolutely. I'm sure it's like that on Wall Street.
MORGAN: But particularly Hollywood, because there are so many people whose own lives and careers and incomes depend on the celebrity.
ARNOLD: Well, maybe so. But if I -- if I called -- I know 20 guys that if I called and said, "We're going to intervene on some kid in the middle of, you know, the inner city, they'd be -- drop everything right now. The -- you know, no questions asked. And if obviously it was Charlie it would be even easier to get people to help.
But like I say, they don't always go well. And sometimes people hate me. I've done interventions on people that just hate me for five years, and then maybe get it down the line.
And so, you know, it's a risk. But I do an intervention on a director and it goes bad, he's never going to hire me, you know? You know, he doesn't want to be -- think I'm going to spy on him, or tell that he's using or whatever, which I would never do.
I just want them to know there's an option out there, and people do care about them.
MORGAN: And you were partying just as hard as Charlie.
ARNOLD: Oh, yes.
MORGAN: What -- what was the catalyst to stop for you? What in the end made you stop?
ARNOLD: I -- there was a night. I lived in Benedict Canyon, where I live now, and I -- I was trying to get in the gate. And I was so messed up. And I couldn't remember the code. It turned out it was my birth date.
But I -- I was driving up and down the canyons. And finally, you know, I see my ex-wife come down the driveway. Get out of the car to let me in.
I think, she's going to hit me. She always hits -- you know? She's going to be crabby. I deserve it. I'm a scumbag.
And she came up, and she gave me a hug, and said, "I just want you to come home." And that broke through all of my craziness, and all the disease. And you know, I was suddenly, very -- felt very sober -- a moment of clarity.
And I said, "OK, I got to tell you a story. And I lied the whole time. I've been using drugs." I can't stop. You know, we were about to get married. I can't stop. I'll be -- I thought I could stop at the bachelor party. I said, "I'll be using at the wedding. I'll be using forever. I cannot stop."
So I surrendered that. And it felt good. But then she's like, "Well, you can't live here." So I got in the cab, and I checked myself in.
MORGAN: Do you think Charlie has in him to do that? Does he have anyone around him that can give him that hug?
ARNOLD: You know, he's lost a lot this year. But he's still got a lot. And sometimes, we need to lose everything -- for me anyway. I don't know what his situation is. It would be weird --
MORGAN: Think about Charlie that's so fascinating, he gave up the highest paid job on television.
MORGAN: He played the brinkmanship with these guys at the absolutely (INAUDIBLE) of earning pie. No one's ever done that before. Nobody would do it when you're on your way down. It's all going wrong.
But for him, he was the king of television.
ARNOLD: But he -- I think if he'd have known what he knows now, he wouldn't have done that. You know, I think he was doing it originally for the sake of comedy, calling people trolls or doing this. But, you know, people -- they backed the writer in this case.
In the old days, the writer would have been out and the star, you know, in my -- when I started in this business. But they back the writer.
MORGAN: Ashton Kutcher is replacing him "Two and a Half Men." What did you think of that decision?
ARNOLD: I think Ashton would be great. He's a fresh thing. You know, I'm sad that it didn't work. But it is Charlie's show. I'm always going to think of him, you know, with that show.
I'm sad. You know, I root for Ashton, too, but it is sad.
MORGAN: Going to have a little break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about marriage.
ARNOLD: Oh, good.
MORGAN: How you finally cracked it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARNOLD: Every time there's a celebrity divorce, they always have this list. Mel Gibson's ex-wife got $650 million. Tiger Woods' wife got whatever. And at the end of that list, it always says, "Tom Arnold got $50 million from Roseanne Barr."
ARNOLD: I think you guys are witness to the -- I didn't take a dime from that woman.
Listen, I'm in San Bernardino staying at the Hilton this weekend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: But that is true. You didn't take any --
MORGAN: -- any money.
MORGAN: Did it -- did it annoy you though, this perception --
ARNOLD: Yes. And it still -- it still does, you know? And people, when they write it as if it were fact. And all they got to do is look it up. It's public record.
But it's funny. And you know, I think she likes to talk about it, and whatever. You know? What I took from that marriage -- a lot of things better than money. So I'm grateful.
MORGAN: I mean, you've obviously made a lot of money over the years. Have you managed to, despite all the partying and the extravagances and so on, have you retained enough to be pretty comfortable the rest of your life?
ARNOLD: Well, if I'd have continued partying, obviously, I wouldn't have anything. So I have to work. No, I absolutely have to work. And maybe that's the best thing for me. You know, I don't have that F-you money that people talk about. I actually have to get up and work.
MORGAN: You've got a very impressive watch, I've noticed.
ARNOLD: Yes. I know. They gave that to me.
ARNOLD: -- very nice. Very nice. So I appreciate that. MORGAN: One of the -- one of the perks of the job.
ARNOLD: There are -- there are a lot of great perks like that.
MORGAN: Does money -- I mean it's an old cliche, but has it ever brought you much happiness? Money?
ARNOLD: Security has brought me happiness. I don't think, you know, in the '90s, I made a lot of money doing one movie after another after another. And, you know, if I would have planned it differently, you know, I'm happy that I've given away more money than I have now. You know, I give a couple back things back in Iowa that we funded, where I funded.
And so, you know, I could say, and I'd be true. But I definitely have to work and I want to -- I'm always -- it's probably because I'm from Iowa, I have to get up every day and figure out a way to make money.
MORGAN: You've got a successful marriage now -- one that's working, and making you happy. What did you learn about marriage, and how to make it work?
ARNOLD: For me, you know, I didn't have a template, you know? Because my parents were not married. So --
MORGAN: -- was probably the last role model you could ever want.
MORGAN: Somebody that got married seven times.
ARNOLD: And that's the thing. And I always didn't want to be like -- I didn't want to be an alcoholic, or get married a bunch.
I wanted to be like my dad. He's a solid citizen, been married -- his second marriage 40-some years. But I was on the path of being my mother, obviously. I was -- I am an alcoholic. And I was getting married a bunch.
What I've learned is Ashley -- she likes me. You know, she likes me a lot. We have a great time.
MORGAN: Always s a good start I think.
ARNOLD: That is a good start. But it's -- you know, it wasn't always there with me. I felt like they would like me if I could show off. And -- and then I didn't have to work on the relationship. I'll go make movies in Canada for a year, and then show up. Things go very bad when you do that.
And, you know, I have to work on my marriage. It's right after my sobriety every day.
MORGAN: And do you think you'll have more children? Is that on the horizon?
ARNOLD: I don't have any children yet and Ashley and I are working on it, you know? And I'm sure --
MORGAN: You never had a child.
ARNOLD: No. I was a stepfather for five years, but I haven't ever had children. And that's --
MORGAN: Is that something that you'd like to do now?
ARNOLD: Yes, we'd like to do that. That's what we're working on.
And, you know, in a weird way I'm grateful I didn't go through divorce with children because I see how tough it is for people sometimes. So, I'm lucky.
MORGAN: Do you think you'd be a good father?
ARNOLD: I hope so, yes.
MORGAN: I mean, given all you've learned about life.
ARNOLD: Yes, I mean, I'm older is the thing. So, it's got to happen soon. So, I can play catch with the kid. But I also think, the father I am now, at 50, or versus the father I was, would have been at 30, there's no comparison.
MORGAN: We're going to have a short break and come back and talk to you about who you think are the funniest people in America.
ARNOLD: We're talking to Tom Arnold.
Tom, I asked you before the break that -- who are the funniest people in America, do you think?
ARNOLD: Well --
MORGAN: Who makes you laugh out loud?
ARNOLD: You know, I liked -- sounds crazy but I liked Bob Hope a lot when I first moved out here because my dad used to laugh at him, get home from work late and I could hear him and my dad howling laughing and so, when I got to a Bob Hope special, that was a big thing.
You know, it's hard -- you know, Robin Williams is, you know -- he's always funny. Richard Pryor is the funniest guy, you know, in the history and then --
MORGAN: Is Richard Pryor the stand-up stand-up? Is he the guy that all stand-ups revere?
MORGAN: It seems to me.
ARNOLD: He is, you know?
MORGAN. Why was he so special?
ARNOLD: Because he dealt with the harshest stuff, with drug addiction, with -- you know, horrible injuries that happened to him. He could deal with anything and absolutely make it brilliantly funny and everybody's tried to live up to him but nobody can.
MORGAN: What are you up to now? What are you working on?
ARNOLD: I'm Just finishing a movie that -- Dax Sheppard, who is the funniest man in America now is directing, with Bradley Cooper, as I said, playing a bad guy, and working -- movie stuff, I'm on the road. I'm in Peoria in August and West Palm Beach. Come out and see the show.
MORGAN: I would love to see your show. I really would. It's been a real pleasure to meet you.
ARNOLD: Thank you.
MORGAN: And you're also involved in independent films, right?
ARNOLD: Yes. I'm still working on a lot of independent films. And that's the most fun. You know, the big blockbusters are great, but to, you know, to do these independent films they'll let me be the bad guy and John Malkovich be the good guy. That doesn't happen in regular Hollywood.
MORGAN: Given your often outrageous life, if I could give you five minutes to relive one moment in your life and it couldn't be wives or children, what would it be?
ARNOLD: I would probably be more careful with my career in the '90s, you know, instead of taking a lot of things --
MORGAN: That's not sort of moment.
ARNOLD: That's not a moment --
MORGAN: I'm talking about a specific thing that happened to you, if you had the chance --
ARNOLD: Oh, could I stop the guy from being molesting me or whatever -- if I could stop that. If I would never have started using cocaine, it would have saved me, you know --
MORGAN: You would use it more as an anti-negative thing where you would say I would stop bad things happening to me.
ARNOLD: Yes, because I hate to admit it but a lot of good things have happened to me. MORGAN: What's been the greatest? The single greatest thing, do you think?
ARNOLD: I would say -- I don't mean to sound cliche but my marriage to Ashley, because I quit the marriage thing. You know, I didn't have any hope.
MORGAN: Thought it was all over.
ARNOLD: Thought it was all over and would never have a family and now, every day, I get to see my best friend. You know, it sounds crazy, but it took a long time to get there, but it was in the nick of time. I would say that.
MORGAN: Is the message "never give up"? The Tom Arnold --
ARNOLD: Right. Never give up. Fourth time is a charm, man.
MORGAN: Great to meet you.
ARNOLD: Thank you, buddy.
MORGAN: It's been a real pleasure.
ARNOLD: Thank you.
MORGAN: That's all from a fascinating interview with Tom Arnold.