An eating disorders charity in the UK is up in arms about actress Kristen Stewart over an interview she gave about her portrayal of Princess Diana and her struggle with bulimia in the Oscar-nominated movie Spencer.
The role has landed Stewart, who is bisexual and engaged to the screenwriter Dylan Meyer, with a heap of award nominations. This includes a ‘Best Actress’ nod at the forthcoming Academy Awards. However, not everyone has been impressed.
Stewart, 31, told Vanity Fair that she had struggled to make herself throw up in her attempts to give an authentic performance.
“I’ll do f***ing anything. I couldn’t throw up on this movie, even when I really should have,” she said in the magazine’s recent Hollywood issue.
“I felt like absolute s*** and I could not get it up, and I know it was because my body was just like… the idea of that was so untouchable.”
Now, Tom Quinn, of eating disorder charity Beat, tells The Mirror, “Depicting eating disorders on screen can be a brilliant way to raise awareness of these serious mental illnesses, but it’s crucial this is done responsibly.
“We’d urge the film industry to protect professionals working in this space, for instance by dedicating time and resources to eating disorder training.”
Quinn says he understands actors want to, “get as close to their characters as possible”, but pushing themselves too far can bring a “huge risk” to their health.
Martha Williams, a Clinical Advice Coordinator for the charity, went further, saying, “Some aspects of the film, we felt, seemed to glamorize the eating disorder. At one point there was an image of Diana wearing a ball gown and slouching over the toilet.”
Spencer focuses on an imagined Christmas at Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham estate in the later days of Diana’s failing marriage to Prince Charles.
The movie, by Chilean director Pablo Larraín, has gone down well with critics, although it’s left audiences—perhaps expecting a more traditional telling of Diana’s story—more divided. It currently has an 83% critics vs. 53% audience score on RottenTomatoes.