March 08, 2020
Even as a young girl, Alison Brie knew how to entertain a crowd. Now, the star of Mad Men and Glow is tackling the heartbreak of her grandmother’s struggles with mental illness
Alison Brie: ‘The effects of trauma spider-webbed through the whole family’
When Alison Brie was in middle school, her grandmother, who was schizophrenic and homeless, was knocked down by a car and left in a coma. “My family didn’t have the resources to care for her,” Brie says. “And she lived on the street.” On a visit to the hospital, she remembers struggling to connect the dirty homeless woman in the bed with a photo at home of her grandparents on their wedding day – “Dancing, looking beautiful, radiant.”
Brie, 37, who has alert, glacier-bright blue eyes, tells this moving story with unrehearsed candour. Talking publicly about her grandmother is still a fresh experience, and raw, but it’s also cathartic. For a long time, these were conversations she had only with her mother, but that time is over. Her new film, Horse Girl, now on Netflix, is a fiction, but one that mines her grandmother’s story for a twisting meditation on mental illness with a mischievous coda: just because someone is schizophrenic doesn’t mean the aliens aren’t real.
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