'SNL's' Darrell Hammond reveals dark past of abuse
updated 8:33 PM EST, Mon October 24, 2011
(CNN) -- "Saturday Night Live" alum Darrell
Hammond was stabbed, beaten and subjected to electrical shocks by his mother
during his childhood, which led to self-mutilation and hospitalizations during
his later life and while he was performing on the hit TV show, he told CNN.
"I was a victim of systematic and lengthy brutality," the comedic
actor told CNN. "My mom did some things which have cost me dearly."
Hammond sat down with CNN for an interview for a CNN Comedy segment, but the
tone shifted and it became clear that he had serious things to talk about. What
was to be a 20-minute chat turned into a 45-minute conversation that ended in
tears as he talked about the problems he faced in his childhood and the path he
feels it eventually led him down.
The actor is well known as the funnyman who graced "SNL" to spoof
celebrities like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Sean Connery. He said
there was a darker side that played out in his life, before he became known for
those roles, and then later on, backstage before he went out to perform.
"It started to manifest itself when I was 19 years old. That was the
first time I ever cut myself," he told CNN.
Hammond said he was put in psychiatric wards from time to time as doctors
struggled to figure out what was happening to him.
He said he faced a variety of diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and
schizophrenia, and was put on several drugs. While he took them, he called his
medications "soul-killing drugs," though he says now he knows they
helped stabilize him.
"I was on as many as seven medications at one time," he said.
"Doctors didn't know what to do with me."
Hammond says he was medicated almost all of the time he performed on "SNL"
each week, but that wasn't all that was happening behind the stage doors.
"There was cutting backstage," he said, adding that one time, he
was taken from the studio to a psychiatric ward because of his actions. "In
fact, the week that I did the Gore debates, I believe I was taken away in a
So how could a man seen by many as a comedic genius, but who was clearly
struggling inside, step up each night to deliver some of "SNL's" most
noted caricatures? In part, Hammond said, he didn't want to let anyone down.
" 'SNL' was a place where if Lorne [Michaels] judges that you can hit the
ball over the wall that night, you're going to go out and step up to the
plate," he said. "I didn't want to let Lorne down, who I was close
Hammond also spoke of the troubles he faced with his father, who struggled
after fighting in a war and dealing with what he had seen. Though he said his
father never abused him the way his mother did, it was difficult for Hammond to
be around him.
The actor said he had trouble playing John McCain in "SNL" skits
because he related to McCain's torture. His father was eager to see his son play
the onetime Republican presidential candidate and was unaware of Hammond's
difficulty in taking on the role, because he was not aware of the torture his
son went through, Hammond said.
Despite the relationships he had with his parents, both of their deaths were
tough on him, he said.
Hammond, who has not previously talked about a lot of the troubles in his
childhood and during his famed career, has written a book titled "God If
You're Not Up There, I'm F-ked," in which he reveals some of his addictions
throughout the years. Hammond says he is not hiding his problems anymore.
"I don't feel ashamed of falling down, because I got hit by a Mack
truck," he said. "The fact is, I kept trying to get back up, and then