Rocking a plaid blazer over a white blouse top with jeans, the 32-year-old actress wows on PAPER'sthird cover for their 2018 "Break the Internet" issue. In her accompanying interview with the magazine, Bynes gets candid about why she spent the last several years out of the spotlight... and whether she's ready for a comeback.
Bynes admits that although she never liked "the taste of alcohol" or going out to party that much as a teenager, she started smoking marijuana when she was 16 years old, around the height of her fame.
"Even though everyone thought I was the 'good girl,' I did smoke marijuana from that point on," she reveals. "I didn't get addicted [then] and I wasn't abusing it. And I wasn't going out and partying or making a fool of myself...yet."
Flash forward a few years, and Bynes says she started experimenting with harder drugs. "Later on it progressed to doing molly and ecstasy," she admits. "[I tried] cocaine three times but I never got high from cocaine. I never liked it. It was never my drug of choice."
She says she "definitely abused Adderall," however, after reading about "the new skinny pill" in a magazine.
"They were talking about how women were taking it to stay thin," Bynes remembers, adding that she got a prescription from her psychiatrist after "faking" the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD). "I was like, 'Well, I have to get my hands on that.'"
What started out as a fun experiment ultimately resulted in a public breakdown, with Bynes encountering several driving violations, publishing disturbing tweets and being hospitalized under a psychiatric hold. She thinks abusing Adderall played a big role in her behavior at the time, which some people first got wind of while she was filming Hall Pass in 2010.
"When I was doing Hall Pass, I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me [more] high [that way]," she tells PAPER. "I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines or memorize them for that matter."
"I remember seeing my image on the screen and literally tripping out and thinking my arm looked so fat because it was in the foreground or whatever and I remember rushing off set and thinking, 'Oh my god, I look so bad,'" she adds, alleging that she dropped out of the film due to "the mixture of being so high that I couldn’t remember my lines" and "not liking" her appearance. "I made a bunch of mistakes but I wasn't fired. I did leave…it was definitely completely unprofessional of me to walk off and leave them stranded when they'd spent so much money on a set and crew and camera equipment and everything."
She had similar feelings after seeing herself in Easy A that same year. "I literally couldn't stand my appearance in that movie and I didn't like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it," Bynes confesses. "I was high on marijuana when I saw that but for some reason it really started to affect me. I don't know if it was a drug-induced psychosis or what, but it affected my brain in a different way than it affects other people. It absolutely changed my perception of things."
"I saw it and I was convinced that I should never be on camera again and I officially retired on Twitter, which was, you know, also stupid," she continues. "If I was going to retire [the right way], I should've done it in a press statement — but I did it on Twitter. Real classy! But, you know, I was high and I was like, 'You know what? I am so over this' so I just did it."
Bynes calls the move "really foolish" -- she says she was "young and stupid" at the time, and if she could turn back time, she would change everything that has now made her feel "really ashamed and embarrassed."
"I just had no purpose in life," she says. "I'd been working my whole life and [then] I was doing nothing. I had a lot of time on my hands and I would 'wake and bake' and literally be stoned all day long. ... I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me."
Now, it appears Bynes has cleaned up her lifestyle. She tells the outlet she is almost four years sober, and will be receiving her Associate of Arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles this month. And while she'd love to release her own fashion line someday, she says she wants to "get back into acting first."
Bynes has appeared in a number of leading roles in TV shows and movies over the years, including She's the Man, The Amanda Show and What I Like About You. But she'll never forget her claim to fame in the '90s, starring in Nickelodeon's sketch comedy show, All That.
"It was a dream come true," Bynes says of being cast in the series. "It was unbelievable for me."