There's a saying that life imitates art, but in Troian Bellisario's upcoming film, the art imitates her reality. Feed, due out July 18, was heavily influenced by the eating disorder she experienced as a teenager. It's her first major project to be released post– Pretty Little Liars, though she wrote the movie before being cast as Spencer Hastings.
"There was a story in me that hadn't been told," Bellasario told Lesli Linka Glatter, who directed several PLL episodes, for Interview magazine. "I couldn't get anyone — even the people who loved me the most, even my boyfriend or my mother or my father — to understand what that experience was truly like for me. It was about my eating disorder, and I found there were so many people who thought that it was about losing weight or being skinny, and I couldn't quite get them to understand that it was about control on a very, very literal level."
In Feed, Bellasario's perfectionist character struggles to live her life without her twin brother ( Tom Felton), who's been her partner-in-crime for 18 years. (Hear Felton's American accent in the full trailer here.) She can't control what happened to him, but she can control plenty of other things.
"If I can tell a story that puts the audience in a position to make a similar choice to the one that I made in my young life, maybe I could get them to empathize," Bellasario explained. Her loved ones, meanwhile, were concerned about how Feed could impact her own recovery. It was like "engaging with an addiction," she said.
"One of the things I really wanted the film to explore was that once you have this relationship, once you have this mental illness or this disease, it never really goes away," she continued, adding that therapy helped her create a healthier life. "When I had to engage with the film, it was like poking a sleeping dragon. It was amazing for me to realize, 'Oh god, this is still all just lying under the surface. I've just gotten really good at either ignoring it or choosing to not engage with it.' But it's amazing that you can have this huge, life-threatening thing be a part of you and still live inside of you, and almost tame it in a weird way."