‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ – A party girl gets a wake-up call
Brittany Forgler is the type of young woman who’s everybody’s friend – funny, outgoing and with a love of a good time. Then wake-up call comes.
As played by Jillian Bell (“Workaholics,” “22 Jump Street”) in the Amazon original comedy movie “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” premiering Friday, Aug. 23, she’s a 27-year-old New Yorker whose hard-partying ways, chronic underemployment and toxic relationships are beginning to catch up with her. When she visits the doctor to get a prescription for Adderall, the orders come back very clear: You need to shape up.
Too broke to join a gym, she doesn’t know what to do next. But when her seemingly together neighbor Catherine (Michaela Watkins, “Casual”) encourages her to try running, she finds she likes it. As her endurance and performance improves, she sets herself a lofty goal: to compete in the New York City Marathon.
“I think we’ve all gone through stages like Brittany goes through at the beginning of the film,” Bell explains, “where we all feel sort of stuck or repeating bad patterns and she decides that she wants to do something for herself to change her life and then that’s why she sets the goal of running the New York City Marathon. And it’s based on a real person. When I read it, I was sort of blown away … . There were a lot of lines in the script when I said, ‘Oh, I’ve said that before’ out loud to myself or one of my best friends. So I just really related to the character.”
To get into the character’s head space, Bell underwent something of a transformation herself. Not only did she have to don multiple prosthetics to depict Brittany’s various stages of weight loss, but the 35-year-old actress also took up running and shed significant weight.
“I thought I would either spiral out or it would be therapeutic,” Bell says, “and I think it did a little bit of both but in a good way. I got to know myself a little bit better after doing this film. I definitely worked the hardest I ever have, at least physically, on any project. They didn’t ask me to lose weight but I lost 40 pounds for the role just because it was part of her real journey and I wanted to see if it would help connect me to the script more emotionally because honestly there are some parts of the script where I said, ‘Oh, why is she struggling right here?’ And it was because at this point, you’ve plateaued and it was something I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t experienced it.”