Troian Bellisario may be best known for her role as Spencer on “Pretty Little Liars,” now in its final season, but the 31-year-old actress’ latest project is a very personal one. In a new interview with Interview, she shared how the upcoming film “Feed” was influenced by her own experience battling anorexia nervosa.
Bellisario explained how the film, which she wrote and directed herself, is an effort to help people understand that weight and thinness are only the tip of the iceberg with eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses.
“I couldn’t get anyone—even the people who loved me the most, even my boyfriend or my mother or my father—to understand what that experience was truly like for me,” she says. “I found there were so many people who thought that it was about losing weight or being skinny, and I couldn’t quite get them to understand that it was about control on a very, very literal level. 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 also shared that, while she is now in recovery from the disorder, it’s something she still wrestles with, and that dealing with the film’s subject matter was difficult. “One of the things I really wanted the film to explore was that once you have this relationship, once you have this mental illness or this disease, it never really goes away,” she explains. “Your synapses are wired in a way that you will always feel this compulsion, but as you grow older and create a healthier life and go through lots of therapy, you tend to feel more empowered when it comes to making these choices.”
“Feed” premieres July 18.