Dedee Pfeiffer opens up about her ‘rebirth’ after battling addiction

4 min

107 shares, 168 points

Dedee Pfeiffer is back on the small screen.

Since 2020, the “Cybill” alum has been starring in David E. Kelley’s hit ABC crime drama “Big Sky,” which she describes as a “rebirth” after taking a 10-year hiatus to battle addiction issues and raise two children as a single mother.

“When you’re active in your disease, you’re the identified problem. The minute you go into recovery … the day you say I want to change, you become the identified possibility,” Pfeiffer, 58, tells Page Six in an exclusive new interview.

While away from Hollywood, the actress also went back to school, earning a master’s degree in social work from UCLA.

A selfie of Dedee Pfeiffer.
The “Big Sky” star took a 10-year hiatus from Hollywood.
Instagram/ Dedee Pfeiffer

She says leaving acting behind for a decade provided her with a reality check, as she got to work with the homeless and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

“To really submerge myself in the real world, in the bowels of the real world, for 10 years and then come back, was really shocking,” she tells us.

Pfeiffer’s family was instrumental in turning her life around.

She shares that her loved ones approached her and “wanted to offer help,” to which she “shockingly” admitted that she had already been searching for guidance but did not know how to initiate it.

“At that time, my answer was [that] I was already looking for 800- [and] anonymous [helpline] numbers that I was going to call. I just didn’t know how to ask for help,” she recalls. “I was kneecapped with shame, I was kneecapped with embarrassment, I was kneecapped with the feeling of feeling like a failure because I couldn’t stop and I didn’t know how to stop. I kept trying but I couldn’t do it, which just makes you feel like s–t about yourself.”

Dedee Pfeiffer on a red carpet.
“When you’re active in your disease, you’re the identified problem,” she said.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Now on the flip side of her disease, Pfeiffer urges others to understand that “help is there for you” — but only when prepared for it.

“The support you’re going to get is so beautiful,” she enthuses. “It saved my life.”

As for the advice she would give her younger self, the “For Your Love” alum says she always felt like she was “out of the box” and “couldn’t fit in.”

“I kept trying to fight for that seat at the table until I realized somebody said, ‘If there’s no seat at the table, make your own damn table,’” she says. “But when I was young, I was so busy trying to be what everybody wanted me to be. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. And now I feel like I’m in a generation — at 58 years old — [where] I finally can say, ‘This is who I am, and if you like it, great — if not, that’s OK, go sit at a different table,’ and I’m totally fine with that.”

Pfeiffer denied that her famous sister Michelle had anything to do with her addiction issues.

Instagram/Dedee Pfeiffer

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Pfeiffer denied that her famous sister Michelle had anything to do with her addiction issues.


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Pfeiffer also wants to set the record straight that having an ultra-famous sister, Michelle Pfeiffer, did not play a part in her personal struggles.

“For me, it all revolved around my insecurity and then this undiagnosed trauma and addiction,” she explains to Page Six. “I think people would love to say that being Michelle Pfeiffer’s sister has anything to do with any of my issues, and — excuse me — I can tell you right now: no, no, and no.”

Raving about the Oscar-nominated actress, Dedee adds, “She’s one of the most amazing, beautiful, smart, compassionate women I know, and I’m lucky to say she’s my sister. Are you kidding me? That’s a plus, not a minus.”

Dedee says she wanted to turn her life around to show people that it is possible to change and to set an example for those around her.

“I decided, in this generation, I’m not going to die with my disease,” she says. “I’m going to show my boys and my family and my friends that you can change. You can change a whole generation by stopping right now and making those decisions, you know?”

Dedee Pfeiffer in "Big Sky."
Pfeiffer plays Denise Brisbane in “Big Sky.”
ABC via Getty Images

And Dedee has some big names in her corner, including her “Big Sky” co-star Reba McEntire, whom she says is “cut from the same cloth.”

“When I met her, I turned into this crazy weird fan,” she admits of the country singer. “The fact that she liked my character — [or] that she even knew who I was — was huge. It was like these two women coming together, not knowing we knew of each other, and how she enjoyed my work, and I’m madly in love with her work — especially in the ’90s.”

While Dedee cannot tease what viewers can expect next from the show — or her character, Denise Brisbane — she is excited for what lies ahead.

“[We have] an incredible season with amazing and exciting guest stars who are so talented,” she raves.

“Big Sky” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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107 shares, 168 points

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