We all know and love Retta for her TV roles, from the uber-fabulous Donna Meagle on Parks and Recreation to the sassy Barbara on Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce. But Retta is returning to the big screen in a major way in the coming months with two films that just made their debut at this year's Sundance Film Festival: Band Aid and To the Bone.
Retta is keeping up the comedy as a couples' therapist in Band Aid, a film about a couple who starts a band in an effort to save their marriage. But she'll be taking a more dramatic turn in To the Bone, which follows a 20-year-old woman named Ellen (Lily Collins) as she moves into a group home in an effort to seek treatment for her anorexia where Retta's character serves as the house mother. "It was interesting to watch their fears, how they would try to wear more clothes in the weigh-in because my character had to do their weigh-ins and how they would try to drink a lot of water, so they would lock the bathrooms before a weigh-in because they didn't want them to drink water just to have the weight," Retta told The Daily Dish. "It was interesting to see what goes through their minds trying to stay so thin."
Just as many were shocked to see Lily's weight loss for the role when the first photo from the film was released last year, Retta also found her transformation unsettling. "It was almost challenging to watch, because Lily was already thin, and I think she may have lost a little bit of weight," Retta said. "There was a point where they would put extra stuff under her cheeks, and I was like, 'Good lord, I feel so sad for you.'"
Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins in To the Bone.
Retta reunited with GG2D creator and executive producer Marti Noxon while filming To the Bone, which she directed and wrote. "It's a much different vibe on that film than it is on our [GG2D] set. So it was a little more serious, but it's just working on another project," Retta shared. "Marti, because the piece is so personal for her, because she was anorexic when she was younger, so she was kind of telling her story, so it was interesting to know that and having conversations with her and telling me, this is the kind of thing that happened."
The film also stars Retta's GG2D castmate Alanna Ubach, although the two did not film any scenes together.
Retta said that she hopes audiences become more aware of what causes eating disorders and the importance of seeking help from watching To the Bone, which Netflix acquired worldwide rights to shortly after the film's Sundance premiere, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I hope that they realize a lot of times those eating disorders aren't about the weight. It's stuff that's going on in their heads and they feel like controlling their food and what their body looks like is the only control they have. They feel like they're helpless with regard to other things in their life, whether it be family, social, whatever, and that they think that's the only thing they can control," she explained. "A lot of it, they just need that therapy. They need to get through to them, and then they're able to make that change."
It sounds like To the Bone is already making a positive impact. "We heard from a lot of people saying they were grateful for telling this story and realizing how serious the condition is," Retta said.
Watch Retta discuss her work on GG2D this season, below.