Jason Wahler is going back, back to the beginning. The former star of Laguna Beach and its spin-off series The Hills, 27, has been open about his struggles with alcoholism and addiction since appearing on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew in 2010. But for the first time since his season ended, he is opening up about his entire journey, from childhood to present day for his very own E! True Hollywood Story airing Thursday, Nov. 13.
Wahler makes it clear that this special is not an attempt to return to reality TV.
“I’m not trying to get back on [TV],” he tells Us Weekly. “I’m just trying to express what my life is today compared to what it was. I grew up very fortunate, I was privileged, I have a great family, my own morals and everything were lost through that experience of the entertainment business and it was something that I’ll never forget and it’s brought me exactly to where I am today.”
Wahler recognizes that Laguna Beach and The Hills allowed him to have a platform to talk about his struggles with substance abuse, and he also doesn’t fault the shows for putting him in situations where partying was the norm.
“People always, the first thing they ask me is ‘Do you blame those shows?’ No. Not at all,” he continued. “If anything, I’m grateful because it ignited the addiction faster, and I’m not 40 years old with a family suffering through it. It hit hard, and I was able to see it sooner than later.”
Wahler is currently filming a documentary in addition to his True Hollywood Story that will outline his entire life. He tied the knot with Ashley Slack in October 2013, and his wife is featured on the one-hour special.
“She did a lot of interviewing with me, it was more of who I am and what I’m like, so it was very positive,” he said. “The actions speak…you can see it comes from the heart, and she’s my everything.”
In the year that followed his wedding day, two of Wahler’s exes, Lauren Conrad and Alex Murrel, got married in stunning California ceremonies.
“I don’t really talk to Lauren at all anymore, the last time we talked was probably 6 months ago or something,” he said of Conrad, who married William Tell in October. “She’s a sweet girl, and we are just totally different personalities and she is super, super sweet. She’s very kind and good at what she does. We’re just two completely different personalities – [and] me being full fledged in my addiction during that time, that did not help.”
When it comes to his high school sweetheart Murrel, Wahler couldn’t help but point out that she tied the knot in the same venue that he did.
“I just found it funny that she got married at the same exact venue that I did,” he said of Murrel, who married Kyle Mark Johnson at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, Calif. this past October. “Literally at the same exact venue. And I talk to Alex, so I’m just giving her s—t. She’s a sweet girl too. I think after 10 years have gone by from the first day it aired, a lot of us have grown up and there’s not that tension anymore and this and that BS. A lot of us are actually talking more now than we did in the past, more the Laguna Beach cast. A lot of people are local still, so, it’s been interesting to watch it kind of transform into what it has.”
When pressed on his advice for his younger self, Wahler first joked that he’d say “don’t drink.” But noting that his battles made him the man he is today, he had a different response when asked again.
“I was so caught up with stuff on the outside — what society depicts is awesome whether it’s fame, money, cars — it’s important to embrace in everything and spend more time with family and friends and things that I cherish so much now,” Wahler said.
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