Lily Collins Opens Up About Playing Character Battling Eating Disorder After Dealing With Her Own

By McCarton Ackerman 01/25/17

"Sharing my history with eating disorders and how personal this film has been is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life."

Lily Collins

Actress Lily Collins opened up about how her role as a young woman battling anorexia in the new film, To The Bone, hit close to home.

Speaking with IMDb Studio during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the 27-year-old said that she suffered from eating disorders as a teenager. She also touched on those experiences in her upcoming memoir Unfiltered.

“This was definitely a more dramatic role for me,” said Collins. "I wrote my chapter on my experiences a week before I got Marti’s script and it was like the universe putting these things in my sphere to help me face, kind of dead on, a fear that I used to have. And, a way to explain it as someone who’s gone through it and to open up a topic that is considered quite taboo with young people nowadays, male, female, and to really start a conversation.”

Collins was required to lose weight to play the role of Ellen in the film. But this time, she did so safely and had a nutritionist guide her through the process. “It caused me to have to emotionally go there, but in a way that was the most safe, healthy way possible with a nutritionist, and really to physically go there but also emotionally,” she said. “It did require a different set of emotional skills, to kind of go back in time for me with my experiences.”

The actress also opened up about her former struggles via Instagram, where she received an outpouring of support from fans for sharing her story. “Chilled to the bone but feeling so free,” the caption reads. “What a huge moment this is for me. Owning my past, being open, and having no shame or regrets about my experiences. Sharing my history with eating disorders and how personal this film has been is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life … Remember, you are never ever alone.”

Last year, Collins and her To The Bone co-star Keanu Reeves starred in a public service announcement called "Nine Truths About Eating Disorders." The viral PSA was released in time for World Eating Disorders Action Day. 

Several other Hollywood actresses have been candid about their former battles with eating disorders. Arrested Development star Portia de Rossi talked about dealing with bulimia in a recent docu-series, while MTV’s Awkward star Ashley Rickards talked about her “monster” eating disorder in her book A Real Guide to Getting It Together Once and For All.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.