Jillian Bell managed to lose more than forty pounds during a seven-month period to play the twenty-eight-year-old title role in Brittany Runs a Marathon. Her weight loss journey was incredibly emotional for her and completely changed her way of thinking. It set her on an entirely new path and lifestyle.
Who Is Jillian Bell?
Jillian Bell is a 36-year-old screenwriter, comedian, and actress who got her start as a writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. She joined the crew in 2009, initially auditioning as a cast member but being hired on to write. However, Bell never forgot her love of acting and was featured in other television shows and films throughout her career. She has starred in beloved shows like Workaholics, Bob’s Burgers, Portlandia, and films, such as Bridesmaids, 22 Jump Street, and Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Jillian is a talented writer and actress. She has received nominations for an Emmy award for her SNL work in 2010 and two MTV awards for her performance in 22 Jump Street in 2015. In the 2019 film, Brittany Runs a Marathon Bell starred as the protagonist of the
Brittany Runs a Marathon
This comedy film focuses on a young overweight woman living in New York City. She trains to run a marathon after her doctor refuses to write her a prescription, telling her to lose weight instead. Addicted to Adderall, Brittany is desperate for a new prescription, so she takes up running for the very first time.
She sets small, attainable goals and soon bonds with her neighbor’s running group. Together, they decide to train for a marathon.
Brittany has some challenges throughout the film, such as failing to get money to enter the marathon, gaining weight back, and running so hard that she injures her shins and suffers from a stress fracture. Although she loses weight, she feels confused as she doesn’t feel any happier.
She struggles with her friend group and love life. Eventually, Brittany gets her life back together and manages to enter the marathon the following year. The film was based on the director’s roommate and her weight loss journey.
Jillian’s Own Weight Loss Journey
Jillian Bell received the movie script about half a year before shooting was set to begin. She wanted to experience the same physical changes and evolution of her character, so she also took up running and started training for a marathon. Over the course of filming, Bell ended up losing a total of forty pounds. She lost thirty pounds before they began and an additional ten during the movie.
How Jillian Connected with the Character
Jillian’s weight loss was very similar to Brittany’s, making her feel more connected to the story and getting into the character’s mindset. She was also overweight and had never run before accepting this job. They filmed during a real marathon, pretending to be a documentary, so she fully experienced what Brittany had gone through.
During filming, Jillian had to wear various padded suits and prosthetics to match the correct weight throughout the film, which was quite uncomfortable. Filming itself only took a month. So for six or seven months she spent working out before then were critical in her ability to relate to the protagonist.
Jillian explains that she has never connected so strongly to a character. She wanted to tell as honest and accurate a story as she could.
Brittany struggled with her self-worth, body image, and ability to accept love and care from her friends and family. Jillian also deals with some of those issues, remarking that the film made her take a hard look at her own life and how she treated and felt about herself. She began looking at herself in a more positive light and refrained from constantly putting herself down.
The Changes Jillian Went Through that You Can’t See
The film addresses topics like self-discovery and self-love and how a change in lifestyle helps, but more so a change in mentality. Jillian found that starring as Brittany made her change how she spoke to herself and how she viewed her own body. She began to be more appreciative of her health while not tying her happiness to a dress size. She puts in the effort to stop making self-deprecating jokes, instead constantly hyping herself up and being confident.
Jillian Bell was looking for an opportunity to try something different and take on a role that she never had before. Having always played the sidekick or jokester, she was excited about this new challenge and determined to succeed. Viewers watch Jillian and Brittany alike lose a lot of weight but still struggle with learning to be happy. Jillian describes her experience as transformative and life-changing and provides a stellar performance, bringing the character to life.
Watch Brittany Runs a Marathon if you want to be entertained and learn about our mental states at the same time!