updated 07/22/2009 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/23/2009 AT 6:30 AM ET
Let’s get one thing straight. Tracy Morgan is not Tracy Jordan, the wild and crazy character he plays on NBC’s 30 Rock. In fact, the only thing they share is a love for not-so-furry pets like snakes.
“It’s like going to the zoo when you come to my house,” Morgan tells PEOPLE, who voices a guinea pig action hero in Disney’s new action comedy G-Force. “I have snakes, three sharks, moray eels, piranhas, five scorpions and a bird spider. All of them are predators. They are dangerous but it’s cool to have strong and powerful pets.”
Having recently earned his first Emmy nomination, the 30 Rock star, 40, is relishing in his good fortune, especially after hitting a rough patch over the past few years.
Arrested for drunk driving in 2005 and again in 2006, Morgan in May 2007 was fitted with an ankle bracelet that monitored his alcohol level. Now sober, Morgan has cleaned up his act and says he’s a changed man.
“I’ve been sober for a year-and-a-half now, and I feel it all,” he says. “I’m not inebriated anymore. I want to feel the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to remember it all. I couldn’t do that when I wasn’t sober. What I have learned over the years is to try to stay in the moment. I want to feel it all because I’ve realized nothing lasts. I’m not perfect but I strive for it. I take it one day at a time, but if you can get it to one hour at a time, I’m good.”
But most importantly, the SNL alum says he was motivated to get help with his substance abuse for his three sons, Gitrid, 23, Malcolm, 21, and Tracy, Jr., 17. Now, they have a “stronger relationship than ever,” says Morgan.
“I deal with my sons like young men,” he says. “If they have a problem with something, they come to me. I am the type of dad that will drop everything I am doing for them, and always tell them to talk to me about it. I’m not [as] crazy as you’d think. They have grown to be respectable young men that are funnier that I could ever be.”
During his down time, Morgan relaxes at home in front of the TV, though he is a selective viewer.
“You will be surprised but I do a lot of studying and I watch National Geographic,” he says. “I try to stay away from the reality shows. I don’t get anything out of Kim Kardashian and her family and nothing out of Kendra. When I watch television, I got to walk away with new type of knowledge. I get none of that from Kendra [Wilkinson] and Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends. I’m not a ninth grader who gets enticed by the female anatomy like that!”