In a revealing interview, the actress has opened up about anxiety, getting older and being OK on her own.
In Jenny Slate’s new movie The Sunlit Night she plays an artist who escapes the crushing claustrophobia of New York City for a remote island in Norway’s corner of the arctic circle where the sun never sets.
The experience of working on that film changed the actress and comedian in unexpected and profound ways. The movie took four years to be made, four years in which Slate divorced her now ex-husband, met, entered into and later ended a relationship with one of Hollywood’s most beloved Chrises Chris Evans, signed a book deal, starred in a blockbuster superhero franchise (Venom) and became a girl crush for women around the world.
In a new interview with Vulture, Slate opened up about how the past few years of her life have taught her an important lesson: that being lonely will always be a part of who she is — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“In the past year, I’ve really noticed — I talk about it a lot because I’m super happy about it — I’m not anxious,” she told Vulture.
Before, she explained, she had what she termed the “situational” anxiety of feeling like her 20s were slipping away from her. “It’s like, ‘Oh God, I’m not doing the job I want to do, and who am I, and am I building my adulthood correctly?’”
All that has changed after working on The Sunlit Night. “I think I stopped asking for other people to fill in the ridges of loneliness that I have inside of me,” she said. “I think I really stopped looking for outward validation, for people to fix me. I was like, ‘If you really want this to be fixed, it’s probably gonna be you alone.’ Which is so scary. And it doesn’t mean [the anxiety] doesn’t come back in flashes.”
Working on The Sunlit Night in almost total isolation forced Slate to put herself under a microscope. “Every time we would go to the Arctic, I’d be like, ‘Whoa, I recognise nothing here except for myself.’ Which is pretty illuminating,” she said.
When she finished filming on The Sunlit Night, Slate stopped smoking cigarettes and marijuana and is considering quitting alcohol, too. She returned to her home in Los Angeles and wrote her forthcoming memoir.
“And really started to live my life in a different way,” Slate added. “I am a way more contained person. I’m just not stressing the small stuff at all. And I want the right things. I look at my own interactions with the people that I love, and I’m proud of how I behave, for the first time in a few years.”
Most of what Slate talked about will be discussed in depth in her book, which will be released this year. In particular, the book discusses the importance of reckoning with your own personal loneliness.
“I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that there will always be a ribbon of loneliness running through who I am,” Slate explained to Vulture. “But that’s why I want to do comedy, and why I want to connect with people. You can use that ribbon to be a part of a finer tapestry, or you can choke yourself out with it! Your choice! But I’m not gonna get rid of it. But do I want to live as a depressed person who’s afraid of other people and bummed out by the makeup of my personhood? No. So I’ll find a way.”