HR Giger's use of opium

leading from

a) Giger offer's O'Bannon some opium
At the hotel in Paris where they first met for the Dune film project, Giger came up to Dan holding some tin foil and said to him, "would you like some opium?"

Dan asked "Why do you take that?"

Giger replied "I am afraid of my visions"

Dan replied "It's only your mind"

Giger replied "That is what I am afraid of"

b) Dan O'Bannon becomes addicted?

Despite their friendship turning sour, every once in a while O'Bannon would call Carpenter up to renew their friendship. Just before Alien was released, O'Bannon called John Carpenter up and was talking about how he loved to go to Europe and Amsterdam to buy girls over there, and Carpenter understood that oddly he was now addicted to opium, which might seems interesting after the way that Giger offered him some only a couple of years earlier in Paris.

c) Grof's revelation
Exactly what Giger had this for might seem rather curious but years later Stanislav Grof mentioned to Erik Davis on his expanding mind podcast that Giger was suffering from depression and so the Swiss Doctors gave him big prescribed doses of opium, which Grof didn't think was a great therapeutic approach.

At the time, it might easily be said that Giger has emotionally suffered from the death of his girlfriend Li Tobler, but when Giger started taking it isn't mentioned.

A question to ask might be how opium might have affected his work as well. Picasso and Cocteau had both used opium earlier in their careers as artists, and soon gave it up regretting together the fact that they ever did.

d) Steve Johnson's Revelation 
Steve Johnson mentioned to Chris Moonlight on in April of 2018 in the Practical Effects podcasts that he knew HR Giger well having worked on three films with him over some decades, but he was certain that Giger took heroin (which we can know is an opiate), and how Giger would repeatedly just focus on the minutia that Johnson believed made him a famous artist.

So by Species 2, Giger stopped painting to the extent, that as far as Johnson was concerned, he couldn't hold a paintbrush in his hand and so, Giger's illustrations seemed like crazy  scribbles that didn't make sense to Johnson. Johnson put it down to the use of heroin. One might wonder if this assumption was connected to the opium that Giger was known to be taking at some part of his life or did Steve Johnson know something else? Was Giger still using it? Despite what Johnson said, Giger had given up airbrush painting by the end of the 1980s since he found nothing more to express in that medium. He was still doing elegant drawings including the work he did for Species 2, even if Steve Johnson obviously was not satisfied with the new directions that this creativity had gone. However Tom Gabriel Fischer, manager of the Museum of HR Giger disputes the claims presented about Giger using heroin.

  1. Dan O'Bannon:And I wasn't the only there, he had gone to England and he had plucked up a, and artist who did covers for science fiction books named Christopher Foss, and for the first time I saw somebody whose stuff I liked as much as Ron Cobb's stuff. He had another artist he wanted me to meet. He had another artist he wanted me to meet. He had seen this guy's work in a, a show that was in Paris at the time. Took me over to, to really one of the fancy hotels in Paris, not the one I was staying at, where this artist named Hans Rudi Giger was staying while his show was on display in Paris. Giger brings up this little tin foil, he said "would you like some opium?", I said "why do you take that?", he said "I am afraid of my visions", I said "It's only your mind", he said "that is what I'm afraid of" He brings out a book, an art book, with his paintings in it, I started looking at this, and he and Alejandro go into a big discussion about Dune, I started looking at these paintings and it took a minute for it to register what I was seeing, but, ah, what I seemed to be seeing was very disturbing (6:31, The Beast Within : Starbeast:  Developing the story)
  2. Stanislav Grof: He suffered from depression and the Swiss Doctors gave him opium so he was on big prescribed doses of of opium which I didn't think was a great er, therapeutic approach. (
  3. BEAHM: Did you stay close with Dan until his passing?
    CARPENTER: We broke off our friendship in 1975 because Dan wanted to be a director. The last thing I needed was to work with an actor/editor/writer, who also wanted to be a director. He bad mouthed me over the years, but every once in a while he would call me up to renew our friendship. He called me just before Alien was released, at which point he was addicted to opium, and was going on about how he loved to go over to Europe and Amsterdam to buy girls over there. Other than the addiction, he seemed to be doing alright. Then he turned against me again. He came back later when we were to collaborate on a special edition of DARK STAR, which was the last time I heard from him. (
  4. Steve Johnson: Drugs are an interesting thing. I think so many talented people become addicts is because, in the beginning, with any substance, you think it’s making you a better artist. Take a look at H.R. Giger: In his heyday, was unbelievable and, I guarantee you, I know the man very well because I worked on 3 films with him… He was on heroin and he would just focus-focus-focus-focus to the minutia that made him a famous artist. But having known him over the decades, over the years, that the same thing that made him a better artist, in the beginning destroyed him. By the time he did Species 2, he couldn’t even hold a paintbrush in his hand. He was just doing crazy pen scribbles that didn’t make sense. I guarantee you that’s what happened: The drugs got the better of him. (
  5. Horrorfreaknews: Tom Gabriel Fischer, manager of the Museum of HR Giger disputes the claims presented in this article. Unless Steve Johnson (this article’s source) retracts his statements, we stand by our reporting. It is up to our readers to rate Johnson’s credibility as a source; we found him credible based on his reputation. Also, the spontaneous nature of the information he revealed indicates this was not part of a plan to sell his book. We also believe the message of this article is positive, extremely celebratory of Giger’s amazing achievements, and works as a cautionary tale and a means of destigmatizing dependency. (


  1. Giger talked about taking heroin while using an airbrush in that Taschen book didn't he? Can't find my copy, but it's near the back, iirc - H.R.Giger ARh+ (Taschen Specials S.)

    1. It would be rather weird if he did

    2. I think I was conflating two sections of the book. Heroin is mentioned twice and LSD once. Drugs talked about three times, the Timothy Leary statement and these two paragraphs:

      "Over the course of time you get so used
      to handling the airbrush that the process
      becomes automatic, like steering a car.
      You yourself become an automaton who
      can still function even at the frontiers of
      clear thinking, such as when under the
      influence of drugs, for example."

      "Heroin, after being internationally
      legalized, rapidly became a scarce
      commodity. It could only be afforded by the
      rich, the politicians and the scientists,
      themselves ultimately responsible for the
      catastrophe, since bulk-buying by half of
      humanity had cleaned out the market.

      The temperature on earth had risen by a
      few degrees and long-held fears were now
      becoming reality. Melting icebergs were
      producing floods everywhere. After every
      dramatic announcement, anyone who
      could gave himself a fix."

    3. Okay. Well, we do know that Giger experimented with LSD, and he took medically prescribed opium. Heroin is not considered a good thing to make the claim that anyone personally takes, but having said that, Steve Johnson thought that he saw Giger using it when they made the film Species, or should I ask if that was the opium? I might ask if Giger experimented with a heroin because a lot of people do want to try these things out to know what it's about, but I wouldn't expect to have a sign saying so tied around his neck if he did, but who knows? Society's relationship with heroin is a significant subject though.