While sometimes referred to as a silent killer, mental illness was definitely given a voice at last night's premiere of the Lifetime original movie Call Me Crazy: A Five Film, which tells five interwoven stories through an all-star ensemble cast. We caught up with producer Jennifer Aniston and others at the star-studded debut to discuss the film's timely themes.
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"I just hope that if one person sees something and says you know what, my sister needs help, or I need help, it will all be worthwhile," said Bryce Dallas Howard, one of the five directors of the movie along with Laura Dern, Bonnie Hunt, Ashely Judd and Sharon Maguire of Bridget Jones's Diary fame.
Dealing with mental illness is an issue very close to Howard's heart. After the birth of her first child in 2007, she struggled with postpartum depression for over 18 months. Other celebrities including Brooke Shields, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie have also famously shared their woes after giving birth in hopes of raising awareness for the illness, which often goes unmentioned and untreated, Howard said.
"I was so ashamed of the feelings that I was feeling. If I had had a physical illness, I would have instantly gotten help. But because it was mental and because I thought it was me -- and it wasn't me -- I didn't get the help that I needed and I'll never get that time back [with my son]."
Howard directs one of the five shorts, Lucy, which stars Pitch Perfect's Brittany Snow, and is named after Snow's title character. And so goes the formula for the film. A different director with a different lead for each of the five shorts that once combined, create the final movie. Snow is also no stranger to dealing with mental illness and the film was a passion project for her since she does similar work with her charity, Love Is Louder, which she created to help anyone dealing with issues like bullying, self-esteem, and depression.
"Doing this [film] was kind of therapeutic in a way. This is something I can really connect with and I know how to deal with….And I feel like those connections really help a lot. I think the great thing about this project is that it really gives a sense of hope," Snow said.
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The "five" concept comes in the wake of the 2011 successful Lifetime movie Five, which was a similar anthology of five short films but instead of mental illness, the movie focused on dealing with breast cancer. Jennifer Aniston is the executive producer for both Five and Call Me Crazy. On the red carpet, she told ET why they chose mental illness as the focus of the second film.
"We were sort of banging our heads around for the second round of Five and this sort of came to us and it's because so many people have been affected or someone you know is affected."
Horribly affected by depression after the tragic loss of her mother, brother and nephew back in 2008, Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson stars in the film as Maggie, a veteran who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
"When you know what you're dealing with in life you can better deal with things. It [mental illness] is so overlooked but it's there, and when you know it's there and you're aware it's there, you can deal with the situation better."
Oscar winners Melissa Leo and The Help's Octavia Spencer, join Modern Family's Sarah Hyland, three-time Emmy Award-winner Jean Smart and Chelsea Handler, who round out the A-list cast.
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The film will make its world premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network on Saturday, April 20, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.