Written and directed by Marti Noxon, the feature film To the Bone tells the story of Ellen (played magnificently by Lily Collins), a 20-year-old anorexic girl who has gone through a series of various recovery programs, only to continue down the path of her disease, every time. Determined to find a lasting solution, she agrees to go to a group home for youths, led by a non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves), where she must discover for herself how to confront her addiction in a way that leads to self-acceptance.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Lily Collins talked about why it was important for her to delve into subject matter that’s so personal, confronting her own past with an eating disorder, the need for humor to balance it out, working with a nutritionist to lose weight for the film in a healthy way, and the bonds that she shared with the cast and director. She also talked about her upcoming TV series The Last Tycoon, streaming at Amazon Prime on July 28th, and the type of projects she’d like to do next.
Collider: Was it important to you that, if you were going to delve into something so dark and personal, that it also have a sense of humor to it?
LILY COLLINS: Yeah. It’s interesting, when I read the script, from the first pass at it, I knew that whoever had written it – and I knew that it was Marti [Noxon] – must have experienced it because the sense of humor was so specific to something that I could relate to, in regards to the disorder. There was a sarcastic sense of humor that I felt was so specific to my experience, but that’s a sense of humor that I don’t think people would associate with it, necessarily. I think it’s really important to show that the character is still very much herself, even though she’s going through what she’s going through. She’s still sarcastic and sassy, and she has a spunk and a spark. That light is still there. I think it was important to show the character in that way, and not have it just be this super dark and depressing film, all the time. Those moments of lightness allow you to appreciate the intense moments more, and vice versa. You need that lightness in order to balance out the film. Humor is a great way of doing that, but humor has so many different ways of doing that. Is it to deflect, is it to deny, or is it to just make light of? There are so many different reasons why humor is used, and we use all of those in the movie, which is a very Marti Noxon style of writing. It was very specific to her, and I really responded to that.
I loved how this film doesn’t let you forget that these are human beings with feelings and personalities, and not just their disease.
COLLINS: Yeah, exactly, 100%. You just have a title, like “Girl with a disorder.” Your personality is almost taken out of the equation, but you’re like, “Wait a second, I’m still me. There’s an additional aspect to what I’m going through, but it doesn’t define me.” It does become something that can dictate how you live your everyday, and when it’s that intense, you have to look at what it’s taking away from you. I think Ellen is aware of that, throughout the story, but it’s not until the very end that she realizes that help is actually something she does want to seek. You can be told so many times to get help or to get better, but it won’t be seen as help. You’ll see it as annoying. It takes you finally wanting to accept it, in order for you to see it as what it is.