Callie Thorne recently wrapped her three-season run starring as Dr. Dani Santino in USA's Necessary Roughness, but you can catch her in an amazing new role this weekend with Lifetime's Thinspiration. She plays Joey, whose whole family is sorely tested when daughter Hannah (Laura Slade Wiggins) battles anorexia. Along with her husband Michael (Marcus Giamatti) and son Leo (Brendan Meyer), Joey fights for Hannah's life. BFTV had the pleasure of speaking with Callie recently to discuss the film, and going from a cult hit TV show to a hard-hitting movie.
"Even though the third season of Necessary Roughness was only ten episodes, they were an extremely intense bunch of episodes, especially toward the finale. I was looking forward to having a little bit of downtime and being able to sort of process the season," she told us.
"But then this offer came in, and because I've been lucky enough to essentially be doing TV for ten years basically and I didn't have an opportunity to do much between seasons, when the offer came in and I read the script, at that point it was an independent and I was so excited by the idea of getting back to the indie roots that I had sort of started my career with."
"It was sort of the perfect storm, because it did hit home for me on so many levels," she continued, "and mainly because it reminded me - when I was young, there were anorexic clubs. There was still that kind of stuff going on. And they always terrified me. I very luckily had a mother that brought my sister and I up with a very healthy body image and ideas about food and such. So this script really struck a lot of chords in me because of that."
Given Thinspiration's very difficult subject matter and the fact that this is a film that tackles the issue particularly hard, we asked Callie if it was also a tough project to make. "It was and it wasn't," she said, "in that the producers and the crew and the actors, everybody was on the same page, which does not always happen. It was a very tight knit group of people that came together. We shot it in a very short period of time and we didn't all have big trailers; it was kind of tight conditions. But because of that everybody bonded really quickly, because everybody was excited to tell this story."
"And then on the other hand, when there were scenes like...There's a scene where I open up the closet. [Joey] sort of has this little pea-sized fearful idea that something wrong is going on, but she hasn't really picked up on the flags, because she doesn't want to believe it. I've gone into [Hannah's] room and everything's starting to register much more.
"That leads me to open up that closet and you see these mountains of rotting food that she's been hiding. We were just blocking it and I started to cry. That was a very difficult day and I know it was very difficult for Laura as well, but often the hard times are the best ones."
One of the strong points of the film, and in fact one of the things that makes it work so effectively, is that the four actors portraying the family are so individually gifted and yet also have a chemistry between them that makes them feel like a family. Given that her on-screen relatives praised her work in their interviews with us, we asked Callie for her perspective on working with them.
"I felt like such an old lady with them," she laughed, "but I was thrilled. I was so thrilled. I met [Laura and Brendan] at the same time, and before I met them I was like 'They couldn't look less like my kids.' And then as soon as I met them, we had very much the same sense of humor. The same with Marcus. We all thought each other incredibly funny. And that bodes well if you're going to play together as a family. There's immediate history that has to feel like familial history."
"Laura is astonishing to me," she continued. "She's gifted. She's so wise beyond what I was at her age, and it struck me on that very first day. When she and I sort of got down to brass tacks and talked about our characters' relationship it was heavenly, because I didn't feel in any way like I was ever going to have to say 'I don't know.' I became very protective, Marcus and I both did, about them speaking up for themselves."
With a movie focused on the difficulties facing a young woman's self-image, it's fitting to have Callie involved, because she's a strong, beautiful, successful woman in her own right. From her early role as Detective Laura Ballard in Homicide: Life on the Street, through to shows like Rescue Me and Necessary Roughness, she's played characters that aren't afraid.
And there's that same strength when you meet her. She has such enthusiasm for her work and speaks in far more than the usual soundbites. You can just hear how much thought and care she puts into what she does. She's someone that people could definitely look up to. So what advice would she give Thinspiration's audience from her own life experience?
"I would hope that people watching this would be parents and young people," she reflected, saying that she hopes viewers "sort of start to think about how to love yourself, and that there is no perfect. That's really what my mother taught my sister and I. It's sort of the idea that even your flaws are perfect. Whatever God or whatever higher power you believe in, they brought us to this earth in a perfect way and you have to learn to love yourself. Otherwise, it's an exhausting way to be.
"Anybody, whatever age you are, can fall victim to these insecurities. I suffer from an amazing amount of insecurities, and I'm grateful that my body image, it's normally not something I pay attention to," she continued. "I think it's really important that you've got to be way more aware. I think parents think that they are on top of it, and if they know their children's schedules or they've got GPS on their kid's cell phone that's enough, but it isn't."
Thankfully, we have projects like Thinspiration that should hopefully provoke discussion amongst families about topics like parental involvement and body image. And it helps that it has an actress like Callie, who not only delivers an impressive performance that more than fulfills the script, but who herself serves as a positive example for young women. We're lucky that she chose to be a part of the film, and she's happy to have been part of it.
"I'm very proud of this movie," Callie told us. "It was a joy."
Thinspiration, aka Starving In Suburbia, airs this Saturday, April 26 at 8 PM ET/PT on Lifetime (check your local listings for specific channel). For more on Callie, follow her on Twitter (@CalliopeThorne).