|Coburn beats back tough disease
Coburn has made some 80 movies and has never been nominated for an acting award.
'Affliction': James Coburn donned padding and a putty nose to
play Nick Nolte's abusive father in the film opening Wednesday (Lions Gate Films).
But the tough, sexy guy from Our Man Flint and The Magnificent Seven
opens Wednesday in Affliction, and the film already has Oscar buzz.
Coburn, who plays Nick Nolte's beefy, alcoholic, abusive father, says that these days
"it's rare you get a script that has any real meaning."
In fact, after four decades in the business, Coburn sums up moviemaking today like this:
"They've been trying to get rid of the actor and they've finally managed to do it.
They've come up with ants, bugs and pigs to sell and the audience is buying
But he's not as cranky as he sounds. The Affliction experience was a good one,
complete with putty nose and lots of padding to turn him into his cantankerous, bloated
character. "That's what we do," he says happily.
It was also enjoyable because he was not in pain. In 1990, he could barely walk because of
rheumatoid arthritis. "I was really sick with it for a long time until I
stopped seeing doctors," he chuckles. But he's serious.
"Doctors want to give you drugs and keep you on 'em. I wanted to get to the root
of the problem."
So he started reading everything he could find on rheumatoid arthritis, went on a 15-day
fast and did high colonics daily. "That started the cure. It's an insidious immune
disease. The body works against itself. It extracts calcium from your bones and puts it in
But for almost 10 years, he says, "moving was always painful. Standing was really
troublesome." The only relief? He laughs: "When you're working and having
A friend came over to his Beverly Hills house every day for 10 months and gave him a deep
tissue massage, and he discovered a man who had an electromagnetic machine, which worked
wonders by stimulating the immune system, he says. But it wasn't approved by the FDA, so
now he visits the man and the machine periodically in England for treatment.
Finally, Coburn found MSM.
"Methylsulfonylmethane, a dietary sulfur," he says. "It really,
really does the job. It's non-toxic, totally, and it stops the pain."
Coburn figures the illness took its toll on his career. "But now I'm working again
and it's more fun now than ever."
Five years ago he married Paula Murad (a 20-year marriage to Beverly Kelly that produced
son James Coburn Jr. ended in 1979). His health regimen includes hiking 3 miles every
other day and "trying not to eat the same thing more than twice every eight
days," he says.
He's considering playing Merlin in a movie he's producing called Mists of Avalon, and
he reteamed with Mel Gibson (they did Maverick together in 1994) for a film
called Payback, due Feb. 5.
In August, he turned 70 and had a big party. How did it feel?
"I felt like I was 16," he growls and laughs. "I got a few kicks
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
© Copyright 1998 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
by Dr. Ronald Lawrence - Doctor to James Coburn