Now that she's nearly done with Freeform's Pretty Little Liars, Troian Bellisario has time to publicize the film she wrote herself, a movie called Feed about twins in high school, one of whom is facing a devastating eating disorder. Bellisario wrote the movie before her time on PLL, and has been very candid about what it means to her. She describes Feed as a "version" of her own experiences with anorexia nervosa.
"It’s not the exact events," she explained to Rotten Tomatoes in April. "What I wanted to do with the film was get the audience to understand what it sounds like and what it feels like to be struggling with that illness."
In a new interview published in Interview magazine, the actress spoke to director Lesli Linka Glatter about the specifics of that experience.
"There were so many people who thought that it was about losing weight or being skinny," Bellisario, 31, explained. "I couldn't quite get them to understand that it was about control on a very, very literal level."
So, she took to writing a script that might illuminate the situation. "I thought, 'If I can tell a story that puts the audience in a position to make a similar choice to the one that I made in my young life, maybe I could get them to empathize.'"
Bellisario's high school years are behind her, but that doesn't mean her eating disorder doesn't still live with her. In order to write the script, the Los Angeles native had to revisit her past.
"It was not easy; it was like engaging with an addiction," Bellisario told Glatter, who directed episodes of Pretty Little Liars. "Once you have this relationship, once you have this mental illness or this disease, it never really goes away. Your synapses are wired in a way that you will always feel this compulsion."
Feed will be Bellisario's first feature-length writing project, although this isn't the first time she's stepped behind the camera. She directed an episode in season 7 of Pretty Little Liars that aired on May 23. From the sound of it, the actress is setting her sights on multi-hyphenate status. She's much more than just Spencer, the sporty resident of Rosewood, although Bellisario credits the Freeform show with giving her all the skills she needs to explore the industry.
In her words: "I ended up using Pretty Little Liars as my own school for writing and producing, and eventually for directing."
Feed will be released digitally July 18.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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