The first time I saw my best friend after a year apart in 2002, I could barely see her at all.
We were attached at the hip throughout high school, bonding over boy obsessions and SAT prep. But after we’d both spent our first college semesters apart (her in New York, me in Pennsylvania), we reunited and I didn’t recognize her anymore. She was half her size. Her hair was thinner. She had permanent goosebumps. She had a “cold” that didn’t go away for weeks. And she had a strange new way of ordering chicken in restaurants: no skin, no oil, no sides.
While watching To the Bone, an upcoming Netflix film directed by Marti Noxon and starring Lily Collins (which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and sold to the streaming network for a massive $8 million), I immediately saw my friend in the lead character. Collins plays Ellen, a young artist reluctantly going through the motions of treatment for her severe anorexia. Her character’s baggy clothes, defiant nihilism, and habit of moving food around on a plate — it was all so familiar.
What my best friend, Collins, and Noxon all have in common is a history of anorexia. Thankfully, all three have recovered, but that doesn’t mean making the film was easy for everyone involved. Below, my conversation with Collins and Noxon, including how Collins handled having to lose weight in order to play this part and the matching tattoos that sealed the bond between director and star.