In Lost Transmissions, Juno Temple plays Hannah, a shy songwriter, who learns that her record producer mentor, Theo (Simon Pegg), is schizophrenic. The film follows Hannah as she takes care of Theo, while navigating the United States’ frustrating healthcare system and trying to keep her songwriting career afloat.
But for Temple, the most difficult scene of Lost Transmissions (which was directed by Katharine O’Brien and premiered March 13) to film wasn’t one of Hannah’s many breakdowns as she struggled to keep Theo out of harm to himself and others, but the parts where she had to sing live for the camera. “What I think challenge-wise, but not an emotionally grueling moment, was all of the singing stuff because that’s not something I do naturally,” she says. “Singing a song in front of people is really hard. I choked a few times.”
Ahead of Lost Transmissions’ release, Temple talked to StyleCaster about what she learned about mental illness from the film, her personal relationship with schizophrenia and the meaning behind the film’s title.
On how director Katharine O’Brien’s group of friends inspired the film
I got to sit down and talk to Katharine O’Brien and the first thing I asked her was, “Have you experienced anything like this?” And she said, “Yeah. This is actually something I went through with a group of friends with one of our nearest and dearest.”
It was a whole group of friends that experienced this with a friend. So Hannah is an arm, a leg, a toe, a nose from all different people.
On her personal relationship with schizophrenia
In my family, I’ve had schizophrenia around me. From a young age, I’ve talked to my mother. My mother is a therapist actually, so she’s an incredible person to talk to about life in general, but also talk about mental illness because she also knows about it on a medical level.
I think mental illness is personal to each person. Also their reaction to medication is personal, so it’s one of those things where it’s a never-ending conversation really.
The more we listen, talk and learn about it, the more we can help people going through it.
On what she learned about mental illness from the film
I was quite overwhelmed with the fact that it’s quite easy to get a prescription for something, like an antidepressant or things that people don’t necessarily need to be dependent on it. But when someone actually needs medication for something like schizophrenia, it’s a lot harder to get somebody on that medication. Because it does take a minute to kick in and keeping them in a safe place to let that medication kick in is really complicated. I didn’t know about that here [in the United States]. That was pretty fucking mind-blowing to me. It definitely opened my eyes to that.
On how the film combats the stigma of mental illness
I think the film is trying to say, ‘Let’s talk about it. Let’s learn about it.’ Because the more we listen, talk and learn about it, the more we can help people going through it. I think there’s still a lot of parts of the world that think of mental illness as an embarrassing, shameful thing, and it’s not. Do you get ashamed when you get the flu? No. You learn about how to make it better.
On the most difficult and the most emotional scenes to film
The scene that I find the hardest to watch iswhen Hannah goes to the homeless shelter and Theo is there. I thought Simon was so real in that scene that it really threw me when he looked up at me and he just wasn’t there. There was this appearance he managed to create and that was frightening and heartbreaking. It was one of those things, where I was like, “Oh my God. Was that real? Was it not?”
What I think challenge-wise, but not an emotionally grueling moment, was all of the singing stuff because that’s not something I do naturally. Singing a song in front of people is really hard. I choked a few times on that.
On the meaning behind the film’s title, Lost Transmissions
There are sounds going around all the time. If you really listen to those sounds, it can really take you to another place. With mental illness and things going around you, things become very heightened and sometimes that can become really frightening. So I think “lost transmissions,” that actual phrase, is about all the signs and sounds that are going around us and if we pay attention to them, they could make us feel mad or they could be teaching us something. It’s a fine line, isn’t it?