I'll Scream Later

I'll Scream Later


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From Children of a Lesser God to Dancing with the Stars, to Switched at Birth, Academy Award– and Golden Globe–winning actress Marlee Matlin shares her incredible life story in a moving and often surprising memoir, I’ll Scream Later.

More than twenty years after becoming the youngest woman to win a Best Actress Oscar for her stunning performance as Sarah Norman, the pupil-turned-custodian at a school for the Deaf in Children of a Lesser God, Marlee Matlin continues to be an inspirational force of nature. A working mother, wife, activist, and role model, she takes readers on the frank and touching journey of her life, from the sudden and permanent loss of her hearing at eighteen months old to the highs and lows of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of being thrust into the spotlight as an emissary for the Deaf community. With uncompromising honesty, she reveals the shocking incidents of molestation that took her years to reconcile; her passionate and tumultuous relationship with Oscar winner William Hurt; her romances with Rob Lowe, Richard Dean Anderson, and David E. Kelley; and much more. As fresh and invigorating as her memorable television roles on Seinfeld, The West Wing, The L Word, and her dazzling turn on Dancing with the Stars, Marlee Matlin’s self-portrait captures the chutzpah and humor of a celebrated actress who continues to defy all expectations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439171516
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 04/13/2010
Pages: 326
Sales rank: 190,601
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Marlee Matlin, deaf since she was eighteen months old, won the
Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in
Children of a Lesser God. She was nominated for Emmy Awards for
her performances in Seinfeld, Picket Fences, The
, and Law & Order: SVU. Her film credits include
It's My Party and What the Bleep Do We Know!? She is the
author of Deaf Child Crossing. She has made numerous television
appearances and currently appears on The L Word. Marlee Matlin
lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four children. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt


February 2, 1987, it's nearing dusk when my plane lands in Palm Springs. No one in my family is there to meet me. No friends. Just a stranger, an old man with a face that looks as if it has traveled a thousand miles of bad road. He smiles and waves in my direction. I'm sure he's seen countless like me before.

He seems kind, tries to be reassuring, but it still takes all of my strength to move toward him and his aging station wagon. He is a volunteer, the transportation of lost souls now one of his missions in life — maybe a way to direct a little good karma back in his direction. I understand, I could use some myself.

I have never, ever felt more alone or more frightened in my life; it's as if sadness and despair have seeped deep into my bones.

He doesn't try to talk to me, and I wonder if he knows I am Deaf or just senses that I'm too emotionally fragile to talk. Either way he's right. I have no words right now. I am as close to broken as I've ever been. We head out into the fading light for a fifteen-minute drive that feels endless, the one that will take me to the Betty Ford Center, specializing in treating alcohol and drug addiction, in nearby Rancho Mirage.

My name is Marlee Matlin, and at this moment I am twenty-one years old and at the very beginning of an unexpectedly promising acting career. I've also managed to pack a few other things into those years — among them a serious addiction to both pot and cocaine. Then there's my two-year relationship with actor William Hurt, which has gone from passionate and troubled to dangerously difficult and codependent.

The sun sets as we pull up to the front of the center, BFC to anyone who'sspent time there. The building looks imposing, not welcoming, but I can see through its expanse of windows that a light is on inside.

It should have been the best time of my life. And in a surreal way it was. Almost exactly forty-eight hours earlier and a world away in the bright lights and red-carpet glitz of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, I had won a Golden Globe as Best Actress for my performance as Sarah Norman, the profoundly Deaf and profoundly angry young woman who finds herself and love in the film Children of a Lesser God.

I stood on the stage that night in a simple black dress I'd found a few days earlier, no speech, looking down into a sea of faces. So many of the actors whose careers I'd been awed by were applauding me. I had won in a category that included Anne Bancroft, Sigourney Weaver, Julie Andrews, and Farrah Fawcett — all Hollywood veterans. I was dizzy with happiness. I felt humbled, unable to quite believe this was truly happening. To the rest of the world it must have seemed that everything was going my way. My very first film had come with a celebrated costar in William Hurt, who quickly became my mentor and my lover, and not in that order. For the most part the critics had been exceedingly kind to the film, it was doing good business at the box office both in the United States and overseas, which always makes the studio bosses happy, and now the Golden Globes had officially launched the movie, and me with it, into the Oscar race.

Though much of my life was falling apart, for that one night I was able to put all the problems and the pain aside and let the extraordinary evening wash over me. I don't know whether it's fate or karma or just me, but for every momentous time in my life — good or bad — it seems the gods always throw in something for comic relief. On the way up to the podium to accept my Golden Globe, I looked down and realized that one of the Lee press-on nails that I'd glued on and painted bright red earlier that day had come off. Instead of thinking about what I would say, my only thought was how in the world could I sign and hide that broken nail!

But once I hit the stage, that thought flew from my mind. All I could think about was how grateful I was to be recognized in this way. And that is essentially what I signed. Short, simple, heartfelt.

The walk backstage to the pressroom, Golden Globe in hand, was amazing, overwhelming. My heart was pounding, I swear I could feel each beat, hundreds of strobe lights were going off in my face, photographers were screaming my name until Whoopi Goldberg flung her arms around me, gave me a squeeze, and said with no small irony to the crowd, "Hey, guys, she's Deaf, she can't hear you."

But photographers are a hungry bunch — a really great shot puts steak on the table and a Mercedes in the driveway — so it didn't take long for them to figure out the trick to getting my attention. So the shouts were replaced by waving hands, and I twisted and turned and smiled as the hands in front of me waved wildly.

That night I went back to my room at the L'Ermitage hotel and closed the door on Hollywood — at least for a time.

On the other side of that door, the Oscar campaign for the movie was getting ready to kick into overdrive. I had no idea how Oscar season worked in Hollywood, all that it entailed. There was publicity to do, photo shoots to line up, magazine covers to consider, TV talk shows to book. There were calls from the studio, the media, old friends, new friends, agents.

The calls would go unanswered, the interviews would all be turned down, the photo shoots nixed. I had decided I was going to quietly disappear, leaving it to Jack Jason, my interpreter and increasingly the person I relied on to help with the business details of my life, to run interference for me. I told him to say no to everything — though I was pretty much oblivious of how much that would be — but to tell absolutely no one where I was or why I wasn't available. No exceptions.

I was lucky. Today in the world of rabid paparazzi and TMZ such discretion wouldn't be possible. But in 1987, only a handful of people knew where I was going — my immediate family, Jack, and, of course Bill, whose own stint at Betty Ford was barely finished by the time I checked in.

It was hard enough to go into rehab, it was harder still that I had virtually no support for my decision. Bill was the only person encouraging me. Everyone else thought whatever problems I might have with drugs weren't all that serious, and, besides, didn't I realize my career was at stake?

In a seven-page letter that was typical of the pressure I was under from those closest to me, my dad wrote:

So you smoke pot — big deal — do you understand you are just starting a career and by checking into a hospital, can ruin your life.... Don't go to the Betty Ford clinic. You have something going for you — don't throw it away — don't waste it.

You missed a lot in life but maybe this little bit of fame can make up a small portion of what you missed.

This letter came as a follow-up to a huge fight my mother and I had over my decision to go into rehab. Even Jack, who was spending hours a day with me interpreting interviews and meetings, thought the timing was wrong and the problem wasn't that severe.

But it was. Consider January 9, 1987, one particularly memorable day of my life on drugs.

I was in Chicago at my parents' house and due to fly to California the next day to be with Bill at Betty Ford during Family Week as part of his rehab therapy. I knew deep inside that during the counseling sessions they would bust me about my drug use, so I tried to finish everything I had.

Here's an inventory of that day: I had a gram of coke, a half-ounce bag of pot, a pipe, rolling papers, and a bong. All by myself, I finished the coke but couldn't finish the pot; though I really tried, there was just too much. That doesn't even touch the emotional issues I had that were fueling my drug use.

I remember cleaning up my desk in a haze, finding anything that I could that was drug-related and throwing it all away. It was in my gut that this would be the last time I would ever use. But I knew, no matter how determined I was to keep drugs out of my life, I needed help.

Looking back on it now, I realize everything in my life up to that point — my childhood, my family, my deafness, the obstacles, the opportunities, the friends and lovers, the molester and the abusers, the doctors and the teachers, and always the acting — had all meshed to buy me a ticket on that forty-eight-hour roller-coaster ride in 1987. Forty-eight hours that delivered an amazing, drug-free high at the Golden Globes and an immeasurable low as I faced the entrance to Betty Ford and the hard work I knew I had ahead of me if I was to build a life of sobriety.

The intersection of these two events would change the way I would navigate life — and the life I would have to navigate — forever.Copyright © 2009 by Handjive Productions, Inc.

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I'll Scream Later 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
rans More than 1 year ago
interesting but it made me think Marlee's #1 is herself, not her family or anyone else
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a completely horrible book as far as biographies go. However, it was difficult getting through Marlee's seemingly love affair with herself. I am wondering why she felt it necessary to include quotes from acquaintances that lauded her in one way or another...seemed to me she was screaming, 'It's all about me...wow! I'm great, right?' The narcissistic nature of the book made it difficult for me to get through; as a matter of fact, I did not finish it, as it just dragged on and on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reads like a stream of consciousness piece and I liked that. I really felt that Marlee was talking and signing to me. A story of her amazing life. Brutally honest and at times quite brave, Marlee asks for no excuses, apologies or pity for who she is. She just lets us know, lets into her world for a little while. Sometimes the order is confusing but it can easily be over come. And it should as this is a fantastic story that should be shared with hearing, hard of hearing and Deaf alike.
joannemepham29 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Marlee's memoir, and with a few complaints aside I was interested throughout about her life, and all of her success. I was a little taken back by the way she quoted people, because the flow was such that you were not sure when the quotes started or ended, and I found this to be a little confusing. She did not write this alone however, so I am not sure how that got translated like it did. I enjoyed her honesty, and candid telling of her life in Hollywood, as a mom, girlfriend, wife and a deaf woman. She is someone whom I would love to meet, and appreciate all that she has done for her fellow deaf community
horomnizon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First let me say that I've been a fan of Matlin's since seeing Children of a Lesser God when I was about 13 or so (TV edited version first!). I watched it over and over...then loved Reasonable Doubts with Matlin and Mark Harmon. I didn't particularly follow tabloids and entertainment mags, so I knew very little about her life.I'm not sure that non-fans would enjoy the book, but people who appreciate her work should enjoy reading about the struggles she has fought against stereotype and sometimes the Deaf community. She was certainly a wild child, growing up in the Chicago suburbs, wildly spoiled out of a sense of guilt her parents seemed to have over her Deafness (even though it wasn't their fault). Drugs and a number of boyfriends didn't deter her from reaching her dream of acting for a living. The only thing I didn't care for was that the book often jumps around and isn't nicely chronological...but it wasn't too confusing to follow. She does dish on some other celebrities, but with the exception of Bill Hurt, most of them are the people she really liked and how good they were to work with or date. Hurt, on the other hand, comes off as a real jackass...abusive and selfish (although apparently the sex was great). Anybody who is a fan of Henry Winkler (The Fonz) might also enjoy reading how he really mentored and became a second father to Marlee.Matlin seems to have managed a wonderful down-to-earth family and career - despite some difficult relationships along the way. Maybe this book will also help some of her critics in the Deaf community understand why she made some of the choices she made.
DanieXJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
#1, Ack and eww to the cover. Don't know why, but it just seems... somehow like it doesn't fit the rest of the book. So, if you're considering reading this book, don't judge it by its cover. Though, maybe that's why the cover is the cover, Ms. Matlin seems to be one smart lady.Other than that, an awesome book, touching, and uplifting, and hilariously funny. Which means a good writer.Everyone should read it, you won't be sorry. But you may get a side stitch from the gales of laughter.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I really connected with Marlee. The things she mentions about growing up deaf.. the way she had to have the lyrics written out for her to understand a song... the preference for action or thriller movies and tv shows simply because they are easier to understand.. There was so many simliarities between Marlee and myself it was like a literary looking glass. Of course the similiarities stop there as you will certainly never see me on the cover of a magazine or in a movie! But I felt I could connect with her. I also loved the fact that she doesn't really seem "hollywoodish" or better than everybody else.. She seems "normal" and laid back. Marlee pretty much holds nothing back in this. She talks about her parents and the tensions she has with her mother. She comes clean about her drug use, sexual abuse at the hands of a babysitter and later, a teacher. She tells all about boyfriends, friends, movies, and also how she has felt attacked by the deaf community at times and why she has done some of the things she did that has set them in such a turmoil. A prime example is when she spoke rather than signed name nominations at an awards ceremony. There was a bit of jumping back and forth but it's her story and she will tell it the way she wants to. The only thing I did not like was the pages after pages about William Hurt aka Bill. I couldn't stand him and I will never watch a movie that has him in it. I would have preferred more details about her happier relationships and less Bill. I respect he had a major impact on her but their fighting and screaming at each other and his hurting her got frustating to read so much of. Maybe a bit more of Richard Dean Anderson would have improved it. I know this is a book review and not Facebook or Twitter or whatever them websites are, but I want to take time to thank Marlee Matlin for her amazing work in getting close captioning installed in the televisions in 1993. Life before close captioning was hard. It was impossible to watch tv and understand. Everybody would be laughing and you would feel left out sitting there wondering "what is so funny...???" Closed captioning has made a huge and wonderful impact on the deaf and hearing impaired community. Marlee, thanks. Until I read this I had no idea she was behind it. Wow. Amazing woman. Amazing story. Amazing actress. An absolute must read for deaf women everywhere. Marlee did it. We can do it too. Deafness does not have to stop anybody from doing what they want to do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the book and I can't wait what happen next.
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I initially had borrowed this for my ASL class. I was doing a project on her, and figured why not? I ended up being unable to put it down. It's a beautifully written portrait of a stubborn and strong-willed woman. Some people might find her too off-putting, but I see it more as determination. She had to fight a great deal of outside adversity and her own personal demons. A great, and rather inspirational journey. Must read.
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