There's a powerful new movie making its debut on Lifetime this Saturday. Thinspiration, airing as Starving In Suburbia, is a hard-hitting look at anorexia unlike any that you've ever seen before - and BFTV is taking you further inside the film than any other outlet. Our week of cast interviews begins with Brendan Meyer, who plays Leo, brother to the struggling Hannah (Laura Slade Wiggins).
"Leo is Hannah's younger brother, and he is on the school wrestling team and his dad is the wrestling coach. We see a fair amount of him through the movie," said Brendan, who explained that his character isn't exempt from the pressures of body image that are at the core of the movie. "He's dealing with the rigorous weight systems of wrestling. Measuring things out and making sure you make weight. So he's kind of dealing with all that as well. And he knows something's wrong with his sister."
What makes Leo an important part of the movie is that he isn't just a supportive sibling to the main character; his story also serves to illustrate that body image issues aren't confined simply to females. "One of the interesting scenes in the movie is where we're in the kitchen and I'm having a little bit of extra food, and Marcus [Giamatti]'s character [Leo and Hannah's father, Michael] comes in and gives me a little crap for it. I like that moment," Brendan continued.
Filming any movie about a life-threatening issue like anorexia can be difficult, but Thinspiration in particular pulls no punches, so we asked Brendan if it was a tough project off-camera, too. "It was kind of a little bit of both," he said. "There were definitely a couple days that were fun and then there were some darker days for sure. There were definitely days where there was some heavier stuff to be dealt with."
"We didn't have an extensive rehearsal period. We kind of met each other and jumped into it super-quickly. Callie [Thorne] and Marcus and Laura are all super-talented and really nice," he continued, naming the fellow actors who played his family. "Tara [Miele] did a great job directing the movie. It was a really great experience."
It was also an educational one for Brendan, who recently appeared in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and two installments of The 100. "I definitely was aware of what an issue it was. I know some people through other people who are dealing with it. And I was aware of what could happen and kind of how it really can lead to death," he explained. "But I think getting into the movie, and reading the script, and researching, you become more and more aware...It's really letting people see what it is, which is important."
Whether it's with a role he's playing or in the rest of his life, he's trying to make a difference in the world. Brendan and his family support the Canadian charity One! International (one-international.com), which aims to aid and educate children on the streets and in the slums of India. Closer to home, he also works with Vancouver's Project Limelight (projectlimelightsociety.org), which helps children and teenagers through theatre. "Just giving back in general is something I try to support," he told us.
With his work in Thinspiration, Brendan's contributing to a greater awareness of a serious disease - and not just treatment of that disease, but the underlying issues that need to be addressed in our society, not only for women, but also for men. Don't miss this moving - and challenging - film.
Thinspiration, also known as Starving In Suburbia, airs on Lifetime this Saturday, April 26 at 8 PM ET/PT (check your local listings for specific channel). For more on Brendan, you can follow him on Twitter (@BrendanKJMeyer). Stay tuned all this week as we'll continue to bring you interviews with the film's cast.