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Brittany Runs a Marathon: Jillian Bell is sick of being cast as the “fat best friend”

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Hollie Richardson
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Brittany Runs a Marathon

Jillian Bell, who stars in new indie hit film Brittany Runs a Marathon, has revealed how she felt when being invited to audition for roles described as “the fat best friend”. 

It’s been a killer summer for women in indie films this year. Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart is one of the funniest films that Stylist has seen in years. Late Night, starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson, was equally laugh-out-loud hilarious. And Holliday Grainger as fun-loving Laura in Animals was razor-sharp perfection. 

So we’re excited to watch the next hyped-up independent film, Brittany Runs a Marathon.

Based on a true story, Jillian Bell stars as Brittany who spends her long nights partying and her hungover days applying for jobs that she doesn’t get. After being told to lose weight for health reasons during a doctor’s appointment, Brittany decides to take up running and sign up for the New York marathon. It’s an emotional and a physical journey that changes her life. Debuting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the film has been praised by critics for its emotional depth and comforting comedy moments. 

Watch the trailer for Brittany Runs a Marathon

One interesting conversation around the film is the fact that Bell loses a lot of weight for the role as she follows her character’s physical journey. In fact, she lost 2.8 kg in total while filming it. But the story doesn’t suggest that “losing weight leads to happiness” as the infuriating trope usually goes. In the trailer, we can hear a male character tell Brittany: “You changing your life was never about your weight, it was about taking responsibility for yourself”. 

Bell has opened up more about this in an interview with The Daily Beast’s podcast The Last Laugh

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Explaining that she made her own decision to lose weight, she said: “I went through a lot. There are things that she was experiencing that I had experienced. And it showcases what not all, but most women go through. We have an interesting relationship with our bodies.”

Bell also opened up about how she had previously always been called to audition for roles described as “the fat best friend”.

“Sometimes it wouldn’t be so on the nose, sometimes it would just be like ‘a woman surrounded by cats who has never experienced romantic love.’ And I was like, but I have experienced romantic love,” she said.

“And I know that you play characters that are different from you but I was like, this is what you guys all see me as and that is sort of a bummer. Usually those characters come in to encourage the lead to go for the job or the guy and then walk out and say, like, ‘Who took the last bagel?’ and leave. And I have played that character before.” 

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She added: “Usually in transformation stories it’s like, someone loses weight and then their life is great and they get the job and the guy and that’s the end of the movie! This felt different. When she loses weight, she struggles with her insides. We never talk about the emotional journey of those types of characters.”

Brittany Runs a Marathon by Amazon Studios will be released in the UK on 1 November 2019.

Images: SUNDANCE INSTITUTE