The former playboy, who is enjoying a career rebirth thanks to his appearance in Quentin Tarantino's new movie Django Unchained, admits he had to test his own patience after the roles dried up following the mega-success of his hit TV series Miami Vice - as he chose to wait for a good part than accept the bad ones offered to him.
But that wait turned out to be a very long one - and led to a lot of soul-searching.
He tells Rolling Stone magazine, ""The phone had pretty much stopped ringing. And then, when I quit drinking, I started gaining weight, and when I looked in the mirror, I saw fat guy, and in my business, that's like suicide... All the friends leave.
""But even when I needed the money, there were certain things I just wouldn't do. I got offers for some episodic, has-been guest spots, and I'm like, 'I'm going to go out there and be the living example of what I know that is, for what, a hundred grand? I don't think so...'
""I'd always figured it'd be like what John Huston says in Chinatown: 'Old buildings and whores get respectable if they hang around long enough'. That's what I was doing, hanging around, like an old building or a whore.""