Anthony Bourdain's final PEOPLE interview: Happy, have things to live for

 

During what would be his final interview with PEOPLE, celebrity chef and gifted wordsmith Anthony Bourdain described himself as “happy” and spoke about his young daughter, whose birth motivated him to readjust his approach to life.

Bourdain, who was discovered dead at 61 on Friday morning in France from an apparent suicide, told PEOPLE back in February he felt “some responsibility” to “at least try to live” since his daughter, Ariane, was born 11 years ago.

“I also do feel I have things to live for,” Bourdain explained. “There have been times, honestly, in my life that I figured, ‘I’ve had a good run — why not just do this stupid thing, this selfish thing… jump off a cliff into water of indeterminate depth,’” he said, recalling something he said he’d once done for his Travel Channel show.

He also described how, before his daughter’s arrival, he would “go to places” where “I was, frankly, asking for trouble. It was a daredevil move.”

But now, “in retrospect, I don’t know that I would do that today — now that I’m a dad or reasonably happy.”

Viewers have been living vicariously through Bourdain for years, following the man on his adventures to remote lands where he’d dine on exotic foods with celebrities and locals alike.

The host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France by close friend and French chef, Eric Ripert, according to CNN. Both were filming an upcoming episode of Bourdain’s award-winning show.

During the PEOPLE interview, Bourdain described being “happy in ways that I have not been in memory” and “happy in ways I didn’t think I ever would be, for sure.” He attributed that happiness to “somebody really strong” he had recently met — apparently, a reference to girlfriend Asia Argento.

Bourdain also talked about being a recovering addict.

“I was a heroin addict, for sure, and I was a cocaine addict, for sure,” he said. “I never stopped drinking, even after.”

He added: “I think my last years working in the restaurant industry, I was definitely drinking too much because alcohol was around me at all times and you were under tremendous stress and people were willing to give you alcohol for free.”

But Bourdain said he wasn’t a daily drinker.

“I’ll be home for three days. It really won’t occur to me that I’ll have a beer. I have some in my refrigerator but it would never occur to me to sit at my house and drink beer, or pour myself a cocktail,” he continued. “It’s never been an addiction for me. What’s been around… I’ve abused alcohol, for sure, but I’ve never felt a compulsion to… cigarettes, obviously, that’s an addiction.”

He added, “When there’s something that I like… films or books or a particular author, I do pursue them with more zeal than perhaps a lot of other people. I don’t know if that’s addictive, habitual or whatever.”

A Strasbourg police spokesperson has confirmed Bourdain’s death to PEOPLE, but would not confirm the cause of death. The manner of death has been classified as a suicide.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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