Aaron Sorkin had a stroke in November, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Social Network and creator of The West Wing says in a new interview.
Sorkin, whose latest film was 2021’s Being the Ricardos, discussed the realization that he’d had a stroke during a New York Times profile focused on his new version of Camelot on Broadway.
The 61-year-old said that last November, he woke up in the middle of the night and noticed while walking to the kitchen that he was bumping into walls and corners. The next morning, he noticed he was shaking so much that he spilled his orange juice, and called his doctor, who told him to come in right away.
“You’re supposed to be dead,” he said his doctor told him, noting his very high blood pressure.
Aaron Sorkin on Recovering
The screenwriter and director explained that for a month after the stroke, he slurred words and had trouble typing. His doctor also urged him not to fly, and until recently he had trouble signing his name. Everything has improved, except that he still can’t really taste food.
Sorkin told the Times that he believed for years he thought “I was one of those people who could eat whatever he wanted, smoke as much as he wanted, and it’s not going to affect me. Boy, was I wrong.”
He said that though he smoked two packs a day since high school, he stopped because of the stroke, and now works out twice a day and eats carefully.
“I take a lot of medicine,” he told the Times. “You can hear the pills rattling around in me.”
The Newsroom creator initially told the Times about his medical condition off the record, but decided to go public with it in the hopes that it might help someone else.
“If it’ll get one person to stop smoking,” he said, “then it’ll be helpful.”
Aaron Sorkin Tries to Fix Camelot
The Times‘ Sorkin profile notes that Camelot has always been a troubled production, despite its place in history as a symbol of the Kennedy Administration. It is a story of King Arthur, filled with romance and politics, sometimes criticized for an overly complicated book.
Before it debuted on Broadway in December 1960, writer Alan Jay Lerner collapsed with an ulcer as he was in the midst of trying to trim it. A week later, playwright Moss Hart suffered a heart attack while trying to complete the task.
One can understand how Sorkin would embrace the challenge of fixing the musical’s book: He broke into Hollywood when his first Broadway drama, A Few Good Men, became a hit Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson film, directed by Rob Reiner. His last Broadway play, an adaptation of the Harper Lee novel To Kill a Mockingbird, was a massive success.
It is a natural for Sorkin, who is fascinated by how government can serve people and improve their lives, because Camelot is ultimately about “the birth of democracy,” director Alan Paul, who has staged his own Camelot, told the Times.
Because of Sorkin’s stellar track record, nostalgia for the play, and the hopes that one of our greatest writers can finally help Camelot achieve its full potential, the Aaron Sorkin version of Camelot is one of the most anticipated Broadway musical of the year.
Starring starring Phillipa Soo, Andrew Burnap and Jordan Donica, it is now in previews at Lincoln Center Theater and is scheduled to debut on April 13.
Main image: Aaron Sorkin on the set of The Trial of the Chicago 7 in 2020, courtesy of Netflix.