Jeremy Clarkson, the former BBC "Top Gear" presenter who has a new car show coming out this year on Amazon Prime, revealed he gave up drinking in order to "stay sharp" while negotiating his deal with the tech company.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Times' Charlotte Edwardes, Clarkson admitted that last summer he went away for a month to a place he describes as "like prison" — although he later clarified he did not go to rehab.
After that, he gave up drinking for four or five months as he began talks with Amazon for the new show with his "Top Gear" co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.
“You can’t deal with Californian lawyers if you’ve had a couple of glasses of wine," Clarkson said.
He didn't, however, appear to keep his sobriety up. Edwardes says Clarkson told her he was hungover when he met her for the interview in Barbados, where he was shooting for the show.
Clarkson will be earning £10 million (about $14.5 million) a year for his involvement in the new Amazon Prime series, which has a production budget of £4.5 million (about $6.5 million) per programme, The Daily Mirror reported last year. "Top Gear," meanwhile had a budget of around £1 million (about $1.5 million) per show, according to The Daily Mirror.
Clarkson says his gruff persona is 'an act'
Clarkson was fired by the BBC in March 2015 for punching "Top Gear" producer Oison Tymon in what was described as a "fracas" in a hotel in North Yorkshire, England.
Last month, Clarkson apologised and Tymon's lawyers said they had settled for an undisclosed fee reported by The Guardian to be in excess of £100,000 (about $145,000)
Clarkson said he couldn't talk about the incident, for legal reasons.
When asked if he argues a lot, Clarkson responded: "I don’t usually argue with people; I discuss. If I’m in a mood and I’m talking to an idiot, I might tell them to eff off. If you and I found a subject we disagreed on, you’d see."
Earlier in the interview, he described his grumpy persona as "an act."
"My job, my TV persona. ‘Jeremy Clarkson.’ It’s a mask. We all wear masks. It’s not the real me," he said.
At the end of the article, Edwardes notes that Clarkson's eyes were "damp behind his sunglasses" when he talked about missing his mother, who died last year.
Clarkson said he received the news of his mother's death from breast cancer when he had just arrived in Moscow to do a live show in front of 15,000 people.
He carried on with the show that day but claims the BBC was "very unhelpful" as he mourned the loss of his mother. At the time, the corporation was in the middle of an inquiry investigating whether Clarkson had used a racist insult in an episode of "Top Gear."
I said, ‘My mother’s just died. Please leave me alone.’ But they wouldn’t. And it was bad. We were doing the TV show and the live shows, and three newspaper columns a week and endless investigations into whether or not we’d said this or done that or whether or not my hair was straight or my teeth were cleaned. It went on and on and on. It was very tricky. So there was quite a lot of pressure that year even for a jovial soul like me to handle. I was very close to my mum.