The 57-year-old actor - who thought his career was over before starring in 'The Wrestler', which saw him nominated for the Best Actor Oscar at this year's Academy Awards - says the only people he could rely on were his beloved pooches.

He said: "My dogs really helped me get through the dark times. I lost everything at the same time - my wife, my career, my house, my credibility - and all I had left was the dogs plus just two or three people who stuck with me. I was living under the mat - being known and then being known for being out of work, for having fallen from grace.

"You go and buy a pack of smokes and people say, 'Hey, didn't you used to be that actor?' So it was a very shameful place, and the dogs were my friends. A lot of people you meet out there turn their backs on you once you're down, but the dogs don't. The one dog I loved, Loki, died last year, and she is deeply missed but with me in spirit."

The former hellraiser feels he has been given a second chance at life and wants to embrace it.

He told Britain's Live magazine: "The first act of my life was crazy, but I've learnt from it. If you've got the guts and the desire and the talent, the first time around is easy. The second time around, it's murder. How many guys make it round the second bend?"