07/08/2009 at 01:00 PM EDT
Jason Bateman can truly claim the title of Comeback Kid – given there's been much for him to come back from.
Once upon a time, he tells the August issue of Details
, his life "was like [the movie] Risky Business
. My parents were out of town, they left me a bunch of money, the car, and the house, and I didn't know when they were coming home."
The former child star, now 40, says he spent the '90s in a haze of liquor and drugs after working on numerous sitcoms and films all through the previous decade. It took an ultimatum from his wife, Amanda, to turn him around.
The former Arrested Development
star admits cleaning up was difficult, "Booze was what would make me want to stay out all night and do some blow or smoke a joint or whatever, so shutting that off was key," he says. "It's like ketchup and French fries – I don't want one without the other."
A fateful trip to Alcoholics Anonymous he took with a newly sober friend started things in motion.
"That's the moment," Bateman says. "Do you want to continue to be great at being in your 20s, or do you want to step up and graduate into adulthood?"
, his costar in the upcoming The Baster
, calls Bateman as charming as ever, in spite of his turbulent past. "Even though he was pretty wild in those days, something about those dimples and that sweet face made you go, 'Oh, it's okay that you just drove up the street backwards in a Range Rover with the door wide open.' I don't know what was happening there."