Lily Mae Harrington Says ‘Some Freaks’ Calls for an Imperfection Revolution
In ‘Some Freaks,’ charming romance develops between a boy with one eye (Thomas Mann) and Jill (Lily Mae Harrington), an overweight girl. When she loses her weight after going to college, their relationship is tested in devastating ways they never dreamed would happen. Harrington’s debut role has been dubbed remarkable, winning awards across the festival circuit with a modern day interpretation of the John Hughes teen classics with a plus-sized girl, a one-eyed guy and a closeted gay teen (Ely Henry).
Harrington is the first to admit that the critical praise she’s receiving for ‘Some Freaks’ wouldn’t have happened without her first getting noticed on ‘The Glee Project.’ And she’s also the first to admit that her mother was the catalyst for Harrington to audition for ‘The Glee Project’ in the first place.
“If I’m being completely honest, my mom pushed me to do it, but she was right. I was studying classical voice at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. I was doing really well. I loved singing in the choir. The teachers were really awesome and amazing, but I knew I didn’t want to be an opera singer. I knew I needed to pursue some other route. My mom said, ‘why don’t you put in an audition tape for ‘The Glee Project’?’ I wasn’t sure and she said, ‘just do it.’ She’s a momager in a hilarious way. I did it and it got some response. After I did it, I realized how much I did want to be on ‘Glee.’ I really loved the show so I decided to go in person to an audition in New York.
“When I met Robert Ulrich, the casting director, he said, ‘you look familiar. Have we met before? I’ve already seen your tape and we were going to call you back.’ That was a cool first meeting. I went through the whole Hollywood week and you go through all the rounds. It all happened really quick – like in three months or something I was out in California. I was here three months to shoot the show. Then I went back to Cape Cod, where I’m from. A couple months later, I got a couple of choices of agents, which was incredible and so unexpected. I just decided that [acting] was what I wanted to do.
“I wouldn’t be talking to you if I wasn’t on ‘The Glee Project.’ There was a connector between ‘The Glee Project’ and ‘Some Freaks’ too. One of the producers of ‘Some Freaks,’ Lovell Holder, was a ‘Glee Project’ fan. He was presented with the script the same summer that ‘The Glee Project’ came out. He thought, ‘if this movie ever gets made, this girl [Harrington] would be great for this character.’ He told me this later on. I went in for an audition from a casting notice from my agent and everything just happened. They were sold when I was in the room. It was pretty meant-to-be.”
Some critics are comparing ‘Some Freaks’ to an 80s John Hughes movie with a dark underbelly. That, along with the film’s occasional dark humor, are what attracted Harrington to the role.
“The first thing I noticed was that the way Jill felt and her cadence was very similar to me. It made me laugh even though it’s kind of a dark movie. The little punches of joy and laughter really stood out to me. That was my high school experience – not necessarily Jill’s – but years of angst and anguish surrounded by people who kind of save your life and help you keep on going.
“There are so many things in this movie that we really haven’t seen portrayed in teenage movies. So many people come up to me and say, ‘that happened to me in high school.’ There are a lot of things we feel shame about and those experiences aren’t necessarily ones we share. ‘Some Freaks’ puts a magnifying glass on some of those things. The film is almost a cathartic experience for some people by sharing these uncomfortable experiences with these characters. It shows you that you are okay. You’re human and you make mistakes.”
Producer Neil LaBute is no stranger to exploring the dark side of human nature. Harrington thinks ‘Some Freaks’ is thematically similar to one of his most controversial projects.
“I read ‘Fat Pig.’ There’s kind of a throwback theme in ‘Some Freaks’ from ‘Fat Pig’ with people having an imperfect body type – full figured, plus size, whatever we’re calling it these days. There’s a taboo around it in a certain way in whether that body type can be sexy – whether it has to be fetishized to be accepted.”
Many romantic movies focus on two gorgeous people, with glamorous jobs, in nice homes, who are in love, but must get past whatever silly contrivance is thrown at them to be together. ‘Some Freaks’ is rightly receiving praise for featuring actors who look like “real” people and not models.
“Especially with social media and everything else now, we want to see ourselves like that and to make ourselves look like that. It’s almost like dancing with the devil. I believe in not altering photographs. I believe in showing imperfections. Maybe I feel more confident after doing this movie with Ian finding those imperfections so fascinating in other people. It can be the weirdest things that people can find beautiful. You just have to accept all the part of yourself that you find imperfect. It’s important for young people to see people who are normal and are beautiful in their own skin. ‘Some Freaks’ shows that people can love you for your imperfections. I hope that there’s an imperfection revolution.”
‘Some Freaks’ opens in select theaters Aug. 4.