Aaron Sorkin Reveals He Had a Stroke Last November: “A Loud Wake-Up Call”

Aaron Sorkin Reveals He Had a Stroke Last November: “A Loud Wake-Up Call”
Mar 2023

The prolific writer has opened up about the private health experience, which motivated him to stop smoking, and how he was worried at one point that he was "never going to be able to write again."

Aaron Sorkin says he had a stroke last November while writing his new Broadway musical Camelot.

The Oscar and Emmy-winning writer shared details about his medical emergency in a new interview discussing his first Broadway musical adaptation, Camelot. Published Wednesday in The New York Times, the piece addresses his decision to go public about the private health event, what caused it and his recovery process.

The interview reveals that Sorkin initially did not want to speak on the record, opting to table discussion about it for a later interview, in which he eventually came around in hopes of raising awareness. "If it'll get one person to stop smoking," he explained, "then it'll be helpful."

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The prolific writer says his stroke was a result of blood pressure that was so high, his doctor told him "you're supposed to be dead." Symptoms of the stroke, which Sorkin experienced in the middle of the night, involved him bumping into walls and spilling his orange juice while walking to and from places like his kitchen and home office. He still can't taste food, slurred his words for around a month after the event and until recently couldn't sign his name, according to the Times.

"Mostly it was a loud wake-up call," he said. "I thought I was one of those people who could eat whatever he wanted, smoke as much as he wanted, and it's not going to affect me. Boy, was I wrong."

Sorkin says that he has since quit smoking cold turkey after being a heavy smoker since high school, whose habit had "been inextricable from his writing process," reports the NYT.

"It was just part of it, the way a pen was part of it," he said. Additionally, he's adjusted his diet, works out daily and takes "a lot of medicine. You can hear the pills rattling around in me."

He adds that the return to writing has been a slower process, with writing by hand -- something he's regularly done -- having become difficult. (Paralysis or loss of muscle movement is one of several side effects of strokes, according to the Mayo Clinic.)

"There was a minute when I was concerned that I was never going to be able to write again and I was concerned in the short term that I wasn't going to be able to continue writing Camelot," he said before clarifying his health status. "Let me make this very, very clear. I'm fine. I wouldn't want anyone to think I can't work. I'm fine."