Owen Wilson: Creative Artist, Tortured Soul

Some of the greatest stars have led the most tragic lives.

Sept. 1, 2007 — -- Movie fans know Owen Wilson as the loose, carefree wisecracker who has his way with women on film and in the gossip pages. In real life, he's at the top of his game, and may be the last guy you might expect to attempt suicide -- or maybe not.

"He has had a drug problem, a serious drug problem going back a decade or more," People.com's Michael Fleeman said. "He has been in rehab twice. In some ways there is a tortured soul here that I don't think we really knew about."

Wilson's representatives have previously denied he had a drug problem. But fame and money sometimes break the boundaries people need to hold their lives together. Art, even comedy, can come from a dark side of the personality.

"I think of humor a lot of times as also being a little bit sad," Wilson himself has said, "kind of the type of humor that comes from people's insecurities and vulnerabilities."

"Be sensitive to the fact that other people are not comfortable with emotional disturbances," Wilson's character, Dignan, said in the movie "Bottle Rocket," which he wrote.

"Saturday Night Live's" John Belushi became as famous for killing himself with a drug overdose, as he was for being funny.

And he wasn't alone, comedian and "SNL" alum Chris Farley, who often used his weight as a joke, committed suicide, too.

Then, there are the musicians. Rocker Kurt Cobain shot himself in 1994.

"They all tended to be depressed, almost all suicides," said Prof. Ronald Maris, a suicide expert at University of South Carolina. "Ninety percent or so of suicides have what we call a mood disorder."

You can't always get them to deal with their problems. Currently popular singer Amy Winehouse has a hit song, "Rehab," in which she admits she has a substance abuse problem and refuses to get treatment: "They wanna make me go to rehab; I won't go go go."

Despite the seeming glamour of their lives, some stars have the same problems anyone else would have. People magazine reported that Owen Wilson was despondent, in part by his recent breakup with the actress, Kate Hudson; that he's disappointed to be 38 and not married with children.

"Some people do very well with success and fame and money," Maris said. "And other people kind of lose their bearing."