Actress Tatum O’Neal recently gave a raw, candid interview with The Hollywood Reporter, her first since suffering a massive stroke in 2020 that left her in a coma and unable to speak for months. Now 59, O’Neal spoke openly about the challenges of her early fame, turbulent relationship with father Ryan O’Neal, struggles with addiction, and her ongoing recovery.
O’Neal first rose to fame at age 10 by winning an Oscar for 1973’s Paper Moon, which co-starred her father. She described feeling thrust into an abnormal childhood full of “sex and drugs” she was unprepared for. O’Neal also alleged troubling instances of Ryan’s emotional abuse, volatility, and possibly enabling her drug use as a teen.
In May 2020, at the height of the pandemic’s first wave, a suicidal O’Neal overdosed on painkillers and suffered a stroke. After six weeks in a coma, she awoke unable to speak and requiring intensive rehab to relearn everything. Though she still struggles with speech and mobility, O’Neal has made great progress.
A key part of her healing has been reconnecting with Ryan, 82, after being estranged for years. She initiated contact last fall and visited him recently in Malibu. O’Neal said Ryan seemed “really sad” after his brother’s death but that spending time together felt happy. She remains hopeful they can mend their fractured bond before it’s too late.
While sections of the interview were painful, O’Neal bravely opened up about surviving her stroke and focusing on recovery one day at a time. Her perseverance and spirit are inspiring.
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