Sarah Silverman Takes on Addiction and Depression in I Smile Back
Comedian Sarah Silverman takes a turn for the serious in I Smile Back, in theaters Friday, Oct. 23. The film, adapted from Amy Koppelman’s 2008 novel by the same name, follows her character, Laney, an upper-middle class suburban woman who seemingly has it all together with her husband and kids. But behind the façade, she struggles with mental illness, depression, and addiction. The Good Wife alum Josh Charles co-stars as her husband, Bruce. Since the film wrapped shooting in upstate New York, it has traveled to both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, where it has met rave reviews.
When we caught up with Silverman on the festival circuit, she said she’s thrilled—and a little nervous—to show this other side of her. “I am so lucky to have an opportunity like this,” she told InStyle. “It wasn’t something I expected, and then I just said yes. Then the panic set in. When it became a reality, I thought, what I have done? But I did it and I’m so glad I did. It was a really weird, really different experience for me.”
Silverman plays a depressed housewife who turns to drugs in the film, but she thinks women will relate to more subtle themes, like "surviving your childhood, the dangers of letting your past totally inform your future, and the anxiety of thinking you'll ruin your kids," she said. "They're all normal fears, but if you let them take over, you're doomed to be a self-fulfilled prophecy.
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One reason that she took the job is because she believed so much in the material. She has been open about her own struggles with depression, and she thinks viewers will be able to relate to some of the themes, even if they haven’t faced those challenges themselves. “I think people will understand the idea of surviving your childhood in this movie, and the dangers of letting your past totally inform your future,” Silverman said. “The idea of living in anxiety of, 'What if I ruin my kids?' These are all normal fears but if you let them take over you, it’s doomed to be a self-fulfilled prophecy. That’s what you see in this.”
Her main hope with this film is that you forget about Sarah Silverman the comedian and focus on Sarah Silverman the actress. “I want the audience to get lost in my character,” she said. “With my stand-up, I put my whole self out there. And when you see someone like that, it’s hard to get lost in who they are in the movies or on television because you read about them and know about them and know their scandals. Hopefully, this is something you can get lost in, and not think, ‘Oh, that’s the comedian who did the I’m F— Matt Damon bit on Jimmy Kimmel Live.’”
Watch the trailer for I Smile Back below.