Jillian Bell has spoken about the experience of losing more than 40lb for her latest film role, in which she plays a young woman who decides to change her life by training for the New York City marathon.
The 22 Jump Street star took up running to play the title part in Brittany Runs A Marathon, but also transformed her body with a dramatic weight loss.
She told the PA news agency: “We had to shoot in 28 days, so not a lot of time to do the whole physical transformation, so I lost 29lbs before we started shooting and I lost 11lbs during shooting due to running, and also wanted to try to experience as much of Brittany’s journey as I could.”
She added: “It connected the emotional and physical journey that she experiences for me.”
Director Paul Downs Colaizzo, who also penned the film after being inspired by one of his own friends, said he was surprised when Bell told him she planned on losing weight for the role.
He said: “We didn’t start with that conversation, I wasn’t expecting her to lose any weight.
“I also felt as a male director that would be a weird ask on this movie to be like ‘And lose 40lbs!’, but she had set this goal for herself that she wanted to live this experience as much as possible, and then we figured out how to tell this story in a way that best supported that.
“Unfortunately, because it was an indie, we couldn’t go in order, we were bouncing all over the place, so she was having to rely on her own sense of memory of that experience as she navigated the scenes in just total random order, but you could see her actual human journey in tandem with the choices she had made as Brittany.”
Bell said she had never run before she started training for the part “unless I was late to something”, adding: “I had not been a runner but it was in the title, so I thought I should probably start.
“At first I started running on my own in my neighbourhood and I had my sister who lives with me tape me doing my first runs so I could remember what mistakes I was making and relay them to Paul and see if there was anything there.
“Remembering physically what I was doing, possibly incorrect, in my first runs as opposed to later on. Then I got a trainer to help me out as I was getting further along.”
Bell added that she embraced the chance to play a “real human being” after a string of more eccentric parts in comedies such as Rough Night, Office Christmas Party and The Night Before.
She said: “I’ve played a lot of odd characters and I had been looking to play someone very real, and I just thought she was incredibly inspiring and people would also feel she is relatable.”
She added: “I would have liked to have seen this character when I was 14 even, someone I could look up and go ‘Well that is like me and that is not so bad’ and root her on.”
Brittany Runs A Marathon is out now in UK cinemas.