Lily Collins opened up about playing a character with an eating disorder after struggling with one in real life

In the upcoming Netflix film, To the Bone, Lily Collins plays Ellen, a woman stricken with anorexia and taking the necessary steps to recover. The role was  all too familiar, as Collins suffered from an eating disorder in real life in her younger years. However, she opened up to Refinery29 about how she put herself back in the eating disorder mindset to play Ellen without it harming real-life Lily.

Collins said, "At first it was definitely a scary process. It was something that I thought is risky, because there’s a fine line between facing something head-on and succeeding, or falling back into it. But I knew that, this time, I would be held accountable for it. I would be [losing weight] under the supervision of a nutritionist and surrounded by all these amazing women on set. So, I knew that I would be in a safe environment to explore this."

Collins even noted that preparing for the role felt like an extremely safe process. She said,

“We went to an Anorexic Anonymous group beforehand for prep, and I met with the head of the L.A. Clinic for Eating Disorders. I could actually openly talk about my history for the first time with people, and receive feedback from them, and get the sense of not being alone…for me to be able to talk openly about my history with them for the first time was something that was so healing for me in a way that I wouldn’t have expected.”

The film’s director, Marti Noxon, has also struggled with anorexia in her past. She admitted to Refinery29 that she struggled during shooting. Watching Collins lose weight and play Ellen was triggering, and Noxon often felt as though she also had to lose weight.

"One of the reasons we’re partnering with Project HEAL is that so many people have a messed-up relationship with food. Especially women. It’s almost like we’re all on a spectrum with the day-to-day obsession with weight and whether you’re good enough," Noxon said.

Project HEAL provides prevention information, treatment financing, and recovery support for those struggling with eating disorders.

Although it was hard for Collins to put herself back in the sphere of anorexia, educating the public about what eating disorders look and feel like is incredibly important. If you are struggling with an eating disorder and aren’t sure where to turn, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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