Gary Oldman has been sober for 24 years, but the Mank star still remembers what it was like to “sweat vodka” and have a “black” tongue.

He tells the Los Angeles Times that his experience of recovering alcoholic gave a better understanding of this Herman Mankiewicz, whom he portrayed in the Netflix film Mank. Like the famous screenwriter, Oldman recalls thinking he would “get away” with his addiction because he was still at work.

Oldman explains, “Herman, with that self-deprecating sense of humor, he was at lunch drinking with a friend who said, ‘Why don’t you go home sober?’ And he replied: What? And have [his wife] Sara kicked me out as a cheater? ‘I did the same. I sat down and said to the waiter, “I’m going to have a large vodka tonic. And can you bring it with you now because I’m an alcoholic? I need it faster. ‘”

He adds that giving up the habit was more difficult because he associated alcoholism with great artists such as Ernest Hemingway.

“People romanticize it, and even I romanticized it,” says Oldman. “All of my heroes were drinkers or opium addicts, and you get all hazy eyes on these poets and playwrights and actors who were great drinkers.”