Richard Dreyfuss has "surfed" the challenge of dealing with depression.

Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss

The 72-year-old actor has suffered from depression since his childhood, but Dreyfuss claims he's made the condition "work for [him]" and he couldn't imagine his life without it.

He explained: "I have surfed my manic depression since I was 11 years old.

"I enjoyed it and made it work for me and have not known the world without it, so it's my only known existence."

Despite battling depression, Dreyfuss became the youngest-ever winner of the Best Actor Oscar for 'The Goodbye Girl' in 1978, when he was just 29.

The Hollywood star used his success to earn money, but he's admitted the achievement changed the perception of him as an actor.

He told The Guardian newspaper: "Afterwards, I made an unusual amount of money betting this: 'Quick, tell me, best actor last year: who was it?' The answer was me and no one got it. But that really personifies the whole thing because it's a great night, but that's all it is.

"It was a wonderful experience until it was in my hands and then I realised now people would assume that I could do X, Y and Z, as opposed to me trying to prove it. I was much more comfortable trying to prove it.

"Someone once asked me if I was going to do an autobiography and I said: 'I don't know but, if I do, it will be called 'The Hunt' because I'm much more comfortable on the hunt,' and that has proved to be true. I should have won now, not back then."

Asked why he's more comfortable on the hunt, Dreyfuss replied: "I guess because I've always known that there was a kind of unlikelihood about my stardom and yet, when you thought it through, you realise, 'That was not unlikely at all'.

"I know my constituency. Every actor has a constituency and, in my case, it was college-educated, Upper West Side Jews who were urban and 20th-century as opposed to, let's say, John Wayne, who is more 19th century than 20th, as opposed to Charlton Heston, who is eternal and can actually play God.

"I couldn't, so I knew who my people were."