Jennette McCurdy opens up on playing a 'food-obsessed' character while she had an eating disorder

Dominic Smithers

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Jennette McCurdy opens up on playing a 'food-obsessed' character while she had an eating disorder

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/Nickelodeon UK/Youtube

Jennette McCurdy has opened up about playing a 'food-obsessed' character while she was battling eating disorders.

In the comedy, there was the long-running joke that she was always hungry, and would either be seen with food in her hand or looking for something to eat.

If you search for it on YouTube, there's an entire compilation devoted to Sam eating.

But for McCurdy, who is best known for playing Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon series iCarly, it couldn't have been further from the truth. While filming the series, the 30-year-old was battling serious eating disorders in her personal life.

In her new book, 'I'm Glad My Mom Died', the actor reveals that she developed a problem with food due to pressure from her mum to look a certain way.

Jennette's character had a passion for food. Credit: Nickelodeon
Jennette's character had a passion for food. Credit: Nickelodeon

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, McCurdy said she found it hard to talk to the show's writers about her character's preoccupation with food, but that she's now able to see the funny side of it.

"At the time, I struggled with my character being so focused on food, being that I was suffering from life-threatening eating disorders," she told the outlet.

"But now I see it as the true gift of comedy gold that it is. That kind of juxtaposition is just absolutely my sense of humour, where there’s something really tragic that’s underlined by something that’s really polished. It’s hilarious."

In an interview with the Washington Post, McCurdy said she did ask writers to cut back on the food jokes, but she just couldn't tell them why.

She said: "It’s tragically hilarious. It made me so anxious because my character was constantly eating.

McCurdy says fans would often make jokes about food when they saw her out in public. Credit: WENN Rights Ltd/Alamy
McCurdy says fans would often make jokes about food when they saw her out in public. Credit: WENN Rights Ltd/Alamy

"I tried speaking with the producers on a couple occasions, asking if we could dial back on that stuff. I had some sort of reasoning like, 'I think there’s so much more to Sam as a character, and I think she goes much deeper than this'.

"But I was not capable of facing the eating disorder for myself so, of course, I wasn’t capable of saying, 'Hey, I’m actually really struggling with this. So, can we not?'"

It wasn't just on the set where she felt uncomfortable, though, iCarly fans had come to know her as the ever-hungry Sam and would make jokes about her eating turkey legs when they spotted her out in public.

"It started to feel like my life was mocking me in every way," said the writer.

"They didn’t know what I was struggling with, but it felt like people were just poking directly in every f**king insecurity and every trauma that I had. It was just twisting the knife."

The actor says she is in a much better place now and can see the funny side of it. Credit: MediaPunch Inc/Alamy
The actor says she is in a much better place now and can see the funny side of it. Credit: MediaPunch Inc/Alamy

Luckily, after going through therapy following the death of her mum, she is in a much better place now, and is able to talk openly about her struggles.

She said: "That got me to the point where I was able to accept my mom was abusive.

"Coming to terms with the reality of what my life had been was not simple. It was not painless. It was through consistent work and exploration that it became freeing and healing."

If you've been affected by any of the issues in this article and would like to speak with someone in confidence, call the BEAT Eating Disorders helpline on 0808 801 0677. Helplines are open 365 days a year from 9am–8pm during the week, and 4pm–8pm on weekends and bank holidays. Alternatively, you can try the one-to-one webchat 

Topics: Film & TV, Health, Mental Health, US News, Entertainment

Dominic Smithers
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