Actress Rene Russo On Taking Medication for Her Bipolar Disorder

She discusses her role in the movie "Nightcrawler."

October 29, 2014, 2:22 PM

— -- Rene Russo has been making headlines lately for her role in the critically acclaimed new movie “Nightcrawler.” But she’s also talking about her personal life, recently revealing that she has bipolar disorder.

Russo stopped by “Good Morning America” to promote the movie and opened up to Robin Roberts about living with the disorder, revealing that she takes medication to treat it.

“I’m not saying medication is right for everyone, but it was right for me,” she said on “GMA.” “Exercise and diet are important, but if you’re clinically depressed then exercise is like taking a bucket [of water] and throwing it on a raging fire. But in conjunction it’s great.”

Russo was surprised by the reactions to her announcement, saying, “To me it was like saying, ‘Oh I take medication for high blood pressure.’ I would like to take credit for being brave, but I don’t feel that way about it. And the next day there were adjectives like ‘shocking’ and ‘stunning’ and ‘confession.’ I thought, ‘If I shot my husband and buried him in the backyard, okay, you can say that.’”

Russo worked on “Nightcrawler” with her husband Dan Gilroy, who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. Russo plays Nina, a TV news veteran in the thriller about crime journalism. She initially had trouble connecting with the character.

“It was amazing and the writing was brilliant and I loved the world [the movie] was set in – but I really didn’t like Nina. She was kind of cold and mean-spirited and I really didn’t know how to sort of access her and feel good about it,” she said. “Even a week before I was saying, ‘Dan, I don’t get her,’ and I’m sure he was like, ‘Well, could you? Because we’re shooting in a week.’

Russo looked at herself and her actions to try to understand Nina.

“I mentally realized that when I cross moral boundaries and have sort of unsavory behavior it's usually because I’m terrified. It’s fear of loss or I’m desperate. Once I had that I was good to go with Nina,” she explained. “That made sense to me. She’s terrified of losing her health insurance. She’s alone and older and people are coming up in the business to take her job and that made sense.”

Understanding others’ actions and helping people with mental disorders is why Russo decided to open up about her bipolar disorder.

“Medical diseases equals straightjacket is what people think. If I can share an experience to help because I know a lot of people are hurting out there,” she said. “I think unfortunately depression and anxiety are really hard to live with and what people don’t need is to feel bad about themselves because they like to go on medication.”

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