I’ve been super conflicted all week. As per the standard in this business, I’ve been encouraged to promote Candiland, for which we go back to shoot our second block in 2 days, through social media. Now, the notion of promoting anything is already a struggle for me. I don’t do real well with pushing my product. Never have. But that’s not the part that’s conflicting. It’s the discussion about process for this film, and in particular, the 6 week weight loss we’ve been tasked with in service of the story. Publicly discussing, and thereby endorsing, either speedy weight loss or weight loss in general is a tricky one for me. I’ve taken a very clear position on the tyranny of our culture when it comes to women and their bodies. On top of which, 6 weeks is a very short period of time for dramatic weight loss…and I won’t ever encourage anyone else to set it as a goal. I’m incredibly cautious and sensitive to the risk of contributing to someone’s negative feelings towards their own body.
However, as the story requires it, I’ve gone on this journey in the healthiest was possible. One thing I knew from the outset is that I was going to be safe and smart about it. I’m not wiling to sacrifice my health or organs for storytelling. Matthew started losing his eye sight. Christian took up smoking & lived on a can of tuna & and apple a day. There is conflicting research about cleansing and detoxification. I choose not to state a position on the subjects as it is a very dangerous and provocative issue….people will hear what they want to and often use statements of others to justify their own neuroses. I will say this: I’ve been eating a lot of grilled white fish, leafy green vegetables & chick peas. No sugar, dairy, processed foods, simple carbs or oils. I’m sweating at the gym every day, as specifically directed by my fitness genius, Garfield Wilson. I’m getting lots of sleep & walking Gaffer as usual. These are all things I’m comfortable inspiring anyone to try. I’ve changed my body as significantly as I am able in a 6 week period. My organs are healthy (had them checked) and my vitamin, mineral & electrolyte intake are closely monitored. I have moments of doubt. Is it going to be enough? Have I met the challenge? But these are toxic thoughts…and I’m choosing to let them pass through without clinging to them. The bottom line: I am healthy.
Something that struck me: In researching this work-required-transformation, when I googled ‘transformation’ or ‘actress weight loss’ no women came up. It’s all men. The implication being that for women it is such a normal and expected standard that we be thin, that it doesn’t gain coverage. Conversely, if a man loses a significant amount of weight for a role, it’s celebrated as brave, impressive and outside the norm in this profession. Transformations for women are generally reported on when a beauty has been ‘brave’ enough to be made a wall flower…or even more revolutionary: put on weight! This contrast is shocking and, sadly, not at all surprising.
So, here we are, 2 days away from shooting the second block of Candiland, roughly the remaining 35 pages of the script. I’m scared. Which is one of the reasons I had to do this movie. When I first read the script, I said no. There are a few scenes and circumstances, having nothing to do with the weight loss, that I was, and am, incredibly uncomfortable with. Putting images of sexual violence out into the Zeitgeist remains something I’m struggling with. Though after sitting down with Rusty and Clayton and hearing out their vision for a heavily stylized film, I came around and got behind the vision. They also agreed to make me a producer, thus allowing me to feel a little safer in the creative control of what we’re putting out. But this process has been dark and messy and imperfect for me. I have moments of fearing I’ve made a mistake by agreeing to tell this story. I have great compassion for Tess, the woman I play…but I have a hard time respecting her. And this is, hands down, the darkest material I’ve ever worked on. Honestly, I’m kind of dreading parts of what we have to shoot this week. But if I’m not scared every now and then…well…I’m not artistically pushing myself.
To be continued…