Jack Osbourne Interview: "I Thought That MS Was an Automatic Death Sentence"
Image attributed to Art Streiber
Born November 8, 1985 in London England, Jack Osbourne is a producer and actor, probably best known as the son of Ozzy and Sharon and a star of MTV’s reality series The Osbournes (2002-2005) along with his father, mother and sister Kelly. Osbourne pursued a career as a fitness and travel reporter on shows such as Jack Osbourne: Adrenaline Junkie (2005-2009) and BBC’s Saving Planet Earth (2007).
Other television appearances include Dawson’s Creek and That 70s Show. He made and produced a documentary about his father titled God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, which premiered in April 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival. Osbourne was diagnosed with Remitting Multiple Sclerosis in 2012. He and wife Lisa have a daughter, Pearl Clementine, born on April 24, 2012.
“Well, at the time I didn’t really know what MS was. I thought that MS was an automatic death sentence, and that was it. I had no idea. I had a lot of confusion. At first, you just kind of ponder it all, and then there was some anger and frustration.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Jack, I can’t imagine a diagnosis like the one you received a couple of years ago especially shortly after your daughter was born. What was going through your head at the time?
Jack Osborne: Well, at the time I didn’t really know what MS was. I thought that MS was an automatic death sentence, and that was it. I had no idea. I had a lot of confusion. At first, you just kind of ponder it all, and then there was some anger and frustration.
You have to try to figure out what it’s all about, and they you just have to accept it. You don’t have any other options especially when you have a new baby that was only three weeks at the time. That was a blessing. I didn’t have the time to just sit around and dwell on it and say, “Woe is me.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I remember when your mom announced the diagnosis on The Talk. She could barely get through a sentence without crying. Is she handling it any better two years later?
Jack Osbourne: Yes. I Just don’t tell her anything (laughs). It’s just the safest way to be. I think she took it a little bit worse than I did in some regards, but she tends to bear the burden more than me at times. It’s just because she’s a controlling mother. That’s it (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): (laughs) As a parent yourself now, I imagine you can understand that a bit more.
Jack Osbourne: Oh absolutely. Absolutely!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How has your life and health regimen changed over the past two years?
Jack Osbourne: I’d love to sit here and be like, “I’m a master yoga instructor, and I run five miles a day,” but that’s just not the case. I changed a few things. I try to stick to a healthier diet, but I don’t always accomplish it. I think probably the most important thing for me is the treatment I’ve done.
The medication out there is really quite amazing now … at least the one that I’m on is amazing. I do attribute a lot of the fact that I’m still up and running to that medication. The biggest thing they say is stress. I’ve been incredibly stressed out these last couple of months, and I’ve been fine (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Can you have flare ups doing nothing at all?
Jack Osbourne: Yes. There really is no rhyme or reason behind it. They try and give you percentages and stats on what causes what and why, but MS is like a fingerprint. It’s so unique to the individual that has it. I might meet someone who’s exactly the same age as me and got diagnosed the exact month as me, but his symptoms are completely different. You know, when you have the flu and have fever, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Those are the symptoms that everyone usually gets when they have the flu, but someone with MS could say, “Oh, the left side of my hand is numb, and I can’t walk.” Other people can have bladder and bowel issues. It’s just all over the place.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s very interesting. You mentioned medications. Do you have any side effects or ever wonder if you could become addicted to the drugs?
Jack Osbourne: The good thing is that it’s not that kind of drug. It’s a daily injectable, a non-narcotic. There’s no risk there. But as far as medication goes, since I’ve been taking it going on two years, I haven’t had any significant side effects. Just inherently, the medication has very few side effects, which is great. The fact that I caught it early enough, got on the medication early enough, it’s hopeful. That’s what they tell you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you involved in any clinical trials for new drugs?
Jack Osbourne: No. I haven’t gone down the guinea pig road yet. I’m not saying I wouldn’t. I absolutely would. But I just haven’t been presented with an opportunity yet. The problem for me is that the medication I’m on is working. So it’s that thing of, “Do I rock the boat or not?”
Things are good today, and that’s all I can ever ask for. There was a drug that they released last year, which has been used in Europe to treat psoriasis, but the problem is the side effects are pretty severe. That right there made me not even toy with the idea.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you having problems with depression?
Jack Osbourne: It definitely is a part of it. But I can never figure out if it’s the MS, or is it that I’m depressed because I have MS. It never sticks around for more than a day or two. It’s just a day of feeling a little blue. I like to say it’s not the first thing on my mind when I wake up, and it’s not the last thing on my mind when I go to bed. It’s just kind of one of those things I’m aware of. It is what it is. But every now and then, I do get a little down.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): As we all do (laughs).
Jack Osbourne: Exactly.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): We know how your mom reacted to the diagnosis. What about your dad?
Jack Osbourne: My dad grew up in post World War II Birmingham, so it’s very much that kind of stiff upper lip. He was in Europe at the time working, so he flew over. He tends to be on the positive side and said, “Whatever it is, we’ll get a handle on it. It is what it is. What can you do about it?” He didn’t break down or anything like that, so it wasn’t as dramatic as my mum’s reaction. I think my mum just kind of did it all for us so we didn’t have to (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Let’s talk about Pearl Clementine. How are you different as a person than before she was born?
Jack Osbourne: Before you have kids, everyone who has kids says, “Oh my God. It’s the most amazing thing. It’s life changing.” But you don’t really have a perspective for it. You go, “Okay. Cool.” I never could conceptualize it because I didn’t have kids, but as soon as you do, it’s like, “Wait a second. This is my human being. This is mine, my child, my blood.” I love it! I would have to sit here all day to explain to you everything that I love about it.
I love waking up to her in the morning, her asking me for a banana and wanting to watch Toy Story or Wonder Pets or whatever. She’s a lot of fun. She’s just the happiest, bubbliest baby. She is so much fun to be around. The coolest thing is that she has brought the family a little closer together which is nice. There’s a lot less arguing with her around.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s a good thing.
Jack Osbourne: (laughs) My friend always says, “She’s the people’s child.” He says to take her to the Ukraine. She’ll be able to fix everything.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So when family members are arguing, you just Pearl to them?
Jack Osbourne: It ends up that no one ever argues around her so the more that she’s around, the less arguing there is, so that’s kind of good (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Speaking of arguing, it has been 12 years since The Osbournes debuted. Did that show scar you for life?
Jack Osbourne: Overall, the pros always outweighed the cons. I’m fortunate to have a pretty consistent career in TV for 12 years now. It has been fun, but it has been a wild ride. I didn’t expect to end up where I have career wise. But as far as scarring goes, yeah, there was some scarring. There definitely was some scarring from The Osbournes. But you just figure it out, and you move on (laughs). I was talking to my wife about it because she has never seen even one episode. I said, “Let’s keep it that way.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Would you ever consider doing a reality show on just the three of you?
Jack Osbourne: I don’t know. I help raise awareness with Teva Pharmaceuticals for MS, and they give me an interesting opportunity to do these little mini webisodes online for them. It is in a similar vein as reality style. I don’t think I would ever do a full show again for a few reasons; one, reality doesn’t pay like it used to, and two, I don’t know if I would open up my family like that again.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about Schweet Entertainment.
Jack Osbourne: Schweet Entertainment is a TV production company my business partners, Rob and Brian and I started about two years ago. It makes game shows, reality shows and things like that. It’s my day job now. When I’m not hosting TV shows, I’m here at the office.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any upcoming projects?
Jack Osbourne: We’ve got a bunch right now. We’ve sold six shows. I’d love to sit here and rattle them all off to you, but the networks are really stingy about … they want to be in control of it. But we’ve sold five cable shows and one broadcast network show. It’s pretty exciting. I love the creative aspect of it. I love sitting around with everyone talking about ideas for shows, making it and going out and selling it. I find it very rewarding.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will you be attending MusiCares in May when your dad is honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award?
Jack Osbourne: Yeah. I think I’ll be there, for sure. I’m always good to hang out with the gang. I think MusiCares is such an amazing organization, so any opportunity to support them, I do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What kind of early life lessons did you learn from your parents that are perhaps helping you now deal with difficult situations?
Jack Osbourne: I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from my parents is a good work ethic. It’s like, if you have work, you’ve got to show up and deliver. In that same regard, it kind of rolled over to, if you’ve got something in front of you, you’ve just got to deal with it. You’ve got to figure out a way to work with it and live the life you want to live. That’s something they both live by, whether they intended for the lesson to come out that way or if it’s just the way they both are. I definitely took it to heart and apply it the best I can.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In a recent interview, your mom was asked, “What’s the one thing in your life you wish you could take back?” And she answered, “Oh my God, all the money I’ve spent.”
Jack Osbourne: Yeah. There’s that (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What would be your answer to the question?
Jack Osbourne: I think I would’ve finished high school and gone to college. I really didn’t take education seriously as a kid. I hated school. I just wanted to hurry up and be an adult, and I think I would’ve liked to have changed that. Also I think I would’ve joined the military, oddly enough. That’s what I wanted to do when I finished high school. I wanted to join the army. It didn’t exactly pan out.
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