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Actor Dave Coulier shares how alcohol addiction affected his spirituality, entire life

Dave Coulier
Photo of Dave Coulier |

Actor and comedian Dave Coulier, who's best known as Uncle Joey in the iconic TV series "Full House" and its spin-off "Fuller House," is the star of a new series on the Christian streaming service Pure Flix called "Live + Local" and recently spoke to The Christian Post about how his journey to sobriety has impacted his life.

The Sony Affirm series takes viewers on an adventure of what happens “when a veteran radio talk show host and his co-host have to navigate the ups and downs of the radio world when their new producer takes over,” according to a synopsis of the show. “This series gives an inside look at the Christian local radio station K-HUGG and the way [the staff] handle [the transition] with grace and comedy.”

While Coulier retains some comedic aspects that fans are used to seeing, this role was quite different for him because he gets to play a bit of a curmudgeon. 

"I got the script and I saw that it was a real departure for me," Coulier said. "I got to wear a nice, big, thick, real beard, my real beard. I got to grow it out and I got to play kind of a very different character than most people are used to seeing me play. I got to play a little bit of a curmudgeon, who is a host on a faith-based radio show on a very small station, but they're number one in the market. So he's a guy who just is not going to change. He doesn't want to do social media, he doesn't really want to break it because he doesn't feel as though it's broken. My character has a lot of flaws.”

The actor likened the camera work in the series to “The Office,” with a lot of handheld camera movements. He said the radio studio, which was built specifically for the show, had six static cameras around this radio station for the shoot.

"I just had a wonderful time doing this. There's a little bit of faith implements in it. We have a lot of faith-based rockers, magicians and comedians," he added.

“Live + Local” features real guests on the fake radio show. One of which was John Cooper of the Christian rock band Skillet.

"I didn't realize how big of a rock and roller he is, like huge, touring with huge bands like Metallica and stuff,” Coulier said. “His family is such an integral part of his life; his wife's in the band with him, so that was really cool. 

"I was really impressed with him, not so much as a rock and roller but as a human being. That guy has really got it together and he's got such a faith-based family operating system that it was really cool to interview him.”

When thinking of Coulier, what comes to mind for many fans are his comedy, impersonations and acting, but he has a spiritual side as well that's been ingrained in him since childhood.

"I went to Catholic schools from grade three through 12. So I'm really messed up,” he said, jokingly. “I came from a very big Catholic community here in the city of Detroit, so church was the central focus for our lives. It was really our meeting place and a place where we socialize, and it was a place where we helped those in need, and we helped each other.

"It's always been in my life in one way or another," he added, "but I always say, that was like faith training Bootcamp for me — going through parochial school." 

In his interview with CP, the father and husband also opened up about how a drinking addiction was affecting his spirituality and other aspects of his life. For years, it was something he hadn't noticed. 

"I never thought I struggled with alcohol and that was the problem,” Coulier said. 

He grew up in a culture where families would go out for pizza after hockey games and the parents would pour a small amount of beer in a “tiny little glass” for the children. That was how he grew up in the ‘60s, he added. "It was a really different culture."

"I always equated alcohol with having a great time and everybody's laughing and jumping into the pool. And we're having pizza parties, the parents are laughing and having a great time, and so are the kids,” he continued. “So there wasn't this awareness of the destructive capabilities of alcohol — psychological, emotional, spiritual. That wasn't really part of the vernacular back then.”

Coulier didn't realize his drinking was a problem until his wife started to get “worried,” he said. They would often have a bottle of wine with dinner every night but then it became more than that.

"It wasn't something that I ever felt out of control with. I'm a licensed instrument-rated pilot. I was kind of a smart drunk really is what I was. I would take a few days off before I knew I had to fly so that I could be very aware and very crisp and clear thinking. So I would kind of build my life around those moments of, ‘I need to take it easy so that I can do what I need to do,’” Coulier added. 

"Same thing with being a television director. Same thing with being an actor. I thought, 'Oh, well, I'm going to have a puffy face on camera, so I better stop drinking a few days beforehand. So it was very calculated. But when my wife, Melissa, started to really get concerned and told me, 'I'm really worried about you, and I'm really worried about the drinking,'" his habits eventually began to change. 

After suffering a bad fall that left substantial bruising on his face Coulier realized he had a problem. Earlier this year he posted a picture of his bruised face on Instagram and shared his testimony of sobriety. 

"My wife was out of town and my friend said, 'You better send her that picture before she gets home because that's not going to heal up in two days.' And I said, 'You're absolutely right.' So I sent her the picture and she started crying. She just said, 'We really need to talk about this.'” 

Even after the fall, it took Coulier another year of introspection where he said he was looking at his “own spirituality and looking at my own life, to gauge how this was going to affect my life.”

"I thought, 'Am I still going to be the funny guy? ... Am I still going to be the guy who makes everybody laugh?' I thought maybe all these years, I've had some liquid courage. ... Do I really need that? Is it a crutch? And what have I been missing romantically with my wife, spiritually in my life, psychologically, creatively?” he said. 

The Detroit native finally decided to get sober on Jan. 1, 2020, and has been sober ever since. 

"I never wanted to preach to people. I just wanted to share my story. And if someone can see a little bit of themselves in me, and I can help them that way, then that's a real plus, that's a real check in the positive column for me,” Coulier said.

The comedian also spoke to CP about loss after the recent deaths of his brother, Dan, to suicide followed by the passing of his close friend Bob Saget and then his father.

Read more about Coulier’s journey through grief and his antidote for the derision and upheaval in the world in part 2 of CP's interview with the famous actor that will be published in the coming days.  

“Live + Local” begins streaming on Pure Flix on July 7. Click here for more details. 

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: jeannie.law@christianpost.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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