Claire Foy On Anxiety: It's My Mind Working A Thousand Beats A Second

By David Konow 10/03/18

"I used to think that this was my lot in life, to be anxious... but now I’m able to disassociate myself from it more."

Claire Foy

Claire Foy, who is best known for playing Queen Elizabeth on the Netflix series The Crown, is having a banner year. Foy recently won an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama, and she’s also getting strong reviews for her performance in First Man, where she stars alongside Ryan Gosling.

Despite Foy's success, she's had to cope with more than her share of anxiety—in fact, she recently confessed that her anxiety “exploded” as her career took off. 

“When you have anxiety, you have anxiety about—I don’t know—crossing the road,” she told The Guardian. “The thing is, it’s not related to anything that would seem logical. It’s purely about that feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the feeling that you can’t, because you’re ‘this’ or you’re ‘that.’ It’s my mind working at a thousand beats a second, and running away with a thought.”

Like many performers who struggle with self-doubt, Foy has had to fight off “lots of thoughts about how shit I am.”

She recalled her parents separating when she was eight years old, and wanting to “make everyone happy. Never be angry. Be really sweet and well-behaved. I didn’t want to upset people.”

Like many who suffer from anxiety, she began over-thinking everything and second-guessing herself. 

Her self-doubt did not go away when she landed her role on The Crown, or when she played Anne Boleyn in the BBC Two series Wolf Hall (2015). “I just thought: ‘I’m not her. Not in any way, shape or form.’ Anne was so intelligent, so alluring, so able to be mysterious and have people be fascinated with her. Anne knew she was special… I just didn’t see it.”

When Foy found out she was pregnant, it “upped things. I feel like the game was on in life. I had to get my shit together.”

Foy went to therapy. “I’m glad I did,” she says. “All your shit—and everybody has shit—it doesn’t go away. It’s still there, but I guess I don’t believe it so much any more. I used to think that this was my lot in life, to be anxious. And that I would struggle and struggle and struggle with it… But now I’m able to disassociate myself from it more. I know that it’s just something I have—and that I can take care of myself.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.