Mental illness is never an easy topic to discuss, but the cast of Lifetime’s Call Me Crazy: A Five Film, the sequel to Five, hopes that five short films – “Lucy,” “Eddie,” “Allison,” “Grace” and “Maggie” -- will spark discussion.
The cast of Call Me Crazy attended the red-carpet premiere Monday night at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center with the hope that the mini-movies will inspire individuals with, or affected by, medical disorders to open up about their experiences and conditions.
In "Grace," Sarah Hyland plays a teenage daughter who grows up and learns how to handle her mother’s (Melissa Leo) bipolar disorder. Leo shared with The Hollywood Reporter that she knew she wanted to get involved with the project when Laura Dern, the film’s director, personally contacted her about it.
“I think it’s a subject that bears a little more discussion in our society,” said the Oblivion actress of mental illness. “If a television show can prompt discussion, and I think it can, then I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Hyland, who worked closely with Leo shared a similar thought, telling THR, “It [this film] shines light on those people, dealing with friends or family who have a mental disorder. It shows how strong they are. I hope they find inspiration in it.”
In the Bonnie Hunt-directed “Eddie,” Mitch Rouse plays a stand-up comedian who battles with depression and causes his wife (Lea Thompson) to become affected by his world of sadness.
Rouse, who admitted to THR that he has suffered from depression in the past, shed light on a common misconception about the disorder: "I think it's that [idea of] 'nobody gets me. No one truly understands what I'm going through.' You sort of have to find it within yourself to be ok with talking about it. I think that really helps."
Thompson also agreed on the importance of seeking help: "It's not hard [to get help] and the people around you who love you, that is the greatest gift you can give them."
"Lucy," which stars Brittany Snow as a law student suffering, and eventually healing, from schizophrenia, was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard. While the director has not personally dealt with the brain disorder, her own experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her first child inspired her to tell a story that addressed a mental illness.
"Just getting to have an opportunity to tell a story that is about mental illness and how it affects oneself and one's community is something that meant a lot to me," Howard told reporters. She adds, "You can't raise kids alone, you can't heal alone. You really need a community and that was my biggest takeaway from this project."
The Pitch Perfect actress, featured in "Allison" with Sofia Vassileva and "Maggie" with Jennifer Hudson, did research and spoke to a psychiatrist to make sure she played her role as accurately as possible.
Although scenes were cut from the vignette, the “Lucy” star revealed to THR some of the most challenging moments while filming: "There were many scenes that we had to do where I was having a schizophrenic episode, and I had to be screaming, crying and hearing these voices and running around and throwing things — I mean, it was exhausting. [...] But it was really rewarding. I felt really cool that I did it."
Hudson -- who appeared alongside Snow in "Maggie" as a female war veteran returning home to her father and son, and experiences posttraumatic stress disorder -- praised her co-star's performance.
"The scene at the end of the film when she's in the court room and I had to do my acting with just my face, and she taking on a massive part. Just being able to watch her, oh my god, she's a great actress," Hudson told THR.
With an A-list cast and crew, producer Jennifer Aniston told reporters, "Well, I'm just going to say we're lucky to get the cast that we got. [...] People were willing and excited to jump on board just because they knew they wanted to be part of this topic of mental illness to remove the stigma, remove the shame."
Call Me Crazy: A Five Film airs on Lifetime on April 20 at 8 p.m.