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By Doug Brunell | September 15, 2003

I spend a lot of time thinking about the mental state of Hollywood’s finest and not-so-finest, and that’s not something I’m ashamed to admit. That’s right, I’m the kind of guy who loves hearing about Martin Lawrence’s latest adventures in La La Land.

Lawrence isn’t the only Hollywood star who is insane, though he is one of the most amusing. Marlon Brando is right up there on the list, as is Matthew McConaughey. Anne Heche is more than a little nuts, and Shirley MacLaine is missing quite a few marbles, too. I love these people, though. They make life enjoyable. Every sentence out of their mouths is like a roller coaster ride of surreal. There is another type of crazy, however, that isn’t as entertaining. In fact, some stars could be downright dangerous if crossed.

Gary Busey and Nick Nolte seem like they’re off their respective rockers, but just like when it comes to Mickey Rourke, I’d be afraid to tell them that. There’s an edge to their insanity that is scary. If I saw Nick Nolte digging through my garbage, I’d go the other way. (And didn’t he look like his latest mug shot in The Hulk?) If I saw Marlon Brando doing it, I’d strike up a conversation.

Robert Downey, Jr., whose insanity is often drug-related, and Margot Kidder both had troubling incidents, too. To be honest, if I found Downey, Jr. sleeping in my bed, I’d lock the doors, pull down the shades and quickly devise a plan on how to hold him for ransom. I’m sure someone would want to pay for him. Maybe Liz Taylor or her robot friend Michael Jackson?

Michael Jackson is a film fan and has done his share of acting. He is also certifiable. I don’t say this because of the Taco Bell incident or his unconventional love of children. I just think anyone who has LaToya Jackson as a sister has got to be mentally unstable.

Andy Dick used to be nuts, but ever since he sobered up (at least that’s what I last heard), he’s been a lot less wacky. That’s a shame, too. Like Skinny Puppy, he was much more entertaining when various substances fueled his life. I still enjoy his comedy, though, but I do find it lacks heart.

It may seem like a lot of Hollywood’s performers have mental problems, but that really isn’t the case. Their exploits just get more press because they are famous and their little incidents make good lead stories. I’m sure there are just as many doctors, airplane pilots and police officers whose brains are jumbled stews of dangerous emotions. When they flip out, however, it doesn’t have the same comedic value as when Martin Lawrence waves around a gun. Lawrence screwing around with a gun equals laughs. The cop pulling you over and acting that way will make you piss your pants in utter terror.

We’re all a little crazy in one way or another, but when actors — the gods of our society — end up on “Entertainment Tonight” looking disheveled and muttering about seeing aliens while on Ecstasy, you have to admit that it’s often more entertaining than their latest films. And let’s spread a little truth here: Some of these folks desperately want to stay in the public eye, and this is how they do it.

Sure, not every actor can be a pillar of stability like Charlton Heston before Alzheimer’s, but I wouldn’t want it that way. A little Marlon Brando now and then makes life worth living, and a drunk Andy Dick makes me realize that my life isn’t so bad after all. Thanks to these folks, I almost seem normal.

Insane actors. What can’t they do?

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