Troian Bellisario is ready to debut her new film, Feed.
The intense drama, which is now available on VOD & digital platforms, explores themes of anorexia, depression and isolation. Bellisario wrote the screenplay, and stars opposite James Remar and Harry Potter'sTom Felton.
ET caught up with the 31-year-old actress at the Feed
press day in Los Angeles on Monday, where she revealed how the film helped her analyze her own eating disorder
and how her mother and Pretty Little Liars
co-stars reacted to the project.
"I got to examine the illness from a greater perspective," she said. "Now, jumping into the role and in acting it, I think I had a lot of naivete just being like, ‘Yeah! I got this! You know? That was like, years ago!’ and then all of a sudden I was like, 'Oh, wow, this has just been living under the surface.'"
"It was really important to re-engage in those conversations," she added. "To be open and to be vulnerable and continue to talk to my therapist and my family and say, ‘Wow, I’m really struggling with doing this,’ and even struggling with putting the story out there, you know?"
According to Bellisario, her mother has been her biggest support system throughout production on the deeply personal film.
"My mom was really wonderful when she spoke to me about it. She said, 'You know I love you, and I loved you through your illness, but I didn’t understand it until I read your script,'" she explained.
"She’s nervous and I’m nervous for her to see [the film], because even though this is not my story, it’s very personal and she suffered through it in her own way, next to me," Bellisario added. "So, for her to say to me, ‘I understood it for the first time after reading your script,’ that to me is worth everything."
In the film, the actress plays Olivia Grey, an 18-year-old born into a world of privilege, who develops an eating disorder after the death of her twin brother, Matthew (Felton).
Bellisario, who wrote the screenplay years ago, before playing Spencer Hastings on Pretty Little Liars for seven seasons, also revealed that putting herself in the starring role made her loved ones concerned.
"A lot of people who love me had a lot of hesitancy," she said. "They were like, ‘Why?’ But, it was really important for me."
The former PLL star also opened up about her popular Freeform show, admitting that without learning from set and creating the amazing fan base she has now, this film wouldn't have been possible.
She went on to say that keeping in touch with her former castmates since the show's series finale last month has been a “no brainer," saying, “It’s one of those long-term relationships where I’m pretty sure I could go years without talking to one of them for whatever circumstances in life and then probably just…fall right back into it.”
Bellisario also revealed that her co-star and friend, Shay Mitchell, read her script
and came to her with major concerns for her well-being. “All of a sudden, she just showed up and was like, ‘I have a lot of feelings about it,’" she recalled. "I was like, ‘Shay?’ and she was like, ‘I read it!’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what happened!’”
The actress said that although Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson and Sasha Pieterse haven’t yet seen Feed, “they’ve all been so wonderfully supportive. I’m so excited for them to see it.”
Bellisario can be seen next in the sci-fi film Clara and the film adaptation of Where'd You Go, Bernadette, alongside Cate Blanchett and Kristen Wiig.