Brad Pitt has admitted he was drinking too much in the run-up to his "self-inflicted" divorce from Angelina Jolie – and claims their split felt like a death.
In his first interview about the Hollywood couple’s break-up last September, the actor said that his family had been "ripped apart" and it was "very jarring" for the couple’s six children.
Pitt described himself as "very retarded" emotionally and admitted that he had been using alcohol and marijuana to blunt his feelings for years.
His break-up from Miss Jolie, 41, came after allegations that he had attacked their 15-year-old son Maddox, whom the actress adopted from Cambodia when he was seven months old.
Miss Jolie filed for divorce five days later, ending two years of marriage and 12 years together. In the aftermath there were angry public comments from both camps, with Pitt accused of drinking and smoking marijuana too much.
The 53-year-old, who has since been seeing a therapist, says the six months since have been "weird" but the split was a "generator for change".
He said he had been boozing so much during their relationship that he could "drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka".
Speaking about parenting, Pitt claimed he had grown up believing fathers were "all-powerful, super-strong" figures who do not recognise self-doubt or struggles.
The actor, also father to Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, ten, and eight-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox, said his divorce had made him realise that he has "gotta be more" for his children.
He said his new mantra was "family first", adding: "I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it."
Pitt, who fell for Miss Jolie during their filming for Mr & Mrs Smith while he was married to Jennifer Aniston, also described himself as a man who had "hit the lottery" – but said that he would still waste time on "hollow pursuits".
But Pitt – who has now taken up making sculptures – claimed that he did not even think of himself as an actor any more as making films "takes up so little of my year and my focus".
He said that he wished he could "just change my name" and become anonymous.
After the break-up he slept on a friend’s floor for six weeks because he was "too sad" to return to the house Miss Jolie and their children had moved out of.
Speaking at the home in Los Angeles where the family used to live – which still has the children’s bikes on a rack and inflatable toys in the swimming pool – he told GQ Style magazine: "This house was always chaotic and crazy, voices and bangs coming from everywhere, and then as you see there are days like this, very very solemn.
"I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem.
"And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now [sober], which is bittersweet."
Asked whether he missed alcohol, he pointed out that he and Miss Jolie owned a winery and he enjoys wine "very, very much", but added: "I had to step away for a minute and truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good.
"This period has really been about looking at my own weaknesses and failures and owning my side of the street.
"I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. Something. And you realise that a lot of it is, um – cigarettes, you know, pacifiers. And I’m running from feelings.
"I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that... I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again." He said that he now drinks cranberry juice, fizzy water or matcha green tea.
The FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services had investigated Pitt following an anonymous tip-off over the incident with Maddox on a private plane as they flew back from France, but both closed their inquiries.
The public fighting between Pitt and Miss Jolie appears to have stopped, with both parties moving towards a resolution after sealing the court documents. Pitt said that he was "really on my back and chained to a system" when child services was called.
But he said a court case would have been an "investment in vitriolic hatred" and he did not want to be "bitterly dedicating years to destroying each other".
Pitt said: "I heard one lawyer say, 'No one wins in court' – fortunately my partner in this agrees. It’s just very jarring for the kids, to suddenly have their family ripped apart".
Pitt, who has twice been nominated for an Oscar for best actor, denied that he had been going through a mid-life crisis in recent months – and said that he was finally addressing issues that he had avoided facing for decades.
He visited two therapists before choosing one that he liked and says that he loves it when he goes for a session with them.
As well as his new-found love for sculpting, Pitt said he has also been working on his new film War Machine based on the firing of General Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, which is set for release later this month.
And he also revealed he has been listening to singer Marvin Gaye’s album Here, My Dear, written about his divorce from his first wife Anna Gordy Gaye. Pitt said: "There’s no love without loss. It’s a package deal."
The actor said that, growing up in rural Missouri, he came from a place where when you cut yourself you just "dealt with it" and got on with life – but he had tried to cope with his emotions in the same way. He said: "I’m personally very retarded when it comes to taking inventory of my emotions. I’m much better at covering up. I grew up with a father-knows-best/war mentality – the father is all-powerful, super strong – instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles.
"And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce: I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it."
When asked if his divorce had felt like a death, Pitt agreed and said that had been difficult to explain to his children.
He said: "It brings up a lot of issues from the past that we haven’t talked about. So our focus is that everyone comes out stronger and better people – there is no other outcome."
Miss Jolie, who has married three times, has already spoken out about the divorce and told the BBC that "we are a family and we will get through this".
The actress has also said that Pitt was a "wonderful father" and she had split up with him for the "health" of their family.