Selma Blair revealed to British Vogue as part of its May 2023 cover story interview that she had to hide her multiple sclerosis symptoms on film sets in order to maintain her career and not be deemed an “insurance risk” by producers. Not that Blair knew her symptoms were related to multiple sclerosis at the time anyway.
“Sets were excruciating sometimes with the exhaustion and the tics,” Blair said. “I took benzos and Klonopin [a medication used to prevent seizures and anxiety disorders]. I didn’t abuse those things, just alcohol. But I was lost and sad and could hardly ever smile. Hence my roles, I imagine.”
“I was worried since the beginning of time that a glaring fault would remove me from the workforce,” Blair continued. “And usually it was my incoordination or getting stuck, too weak or sick, in my trailer — or any time, really. The vomiting or body issues were terrifying, [and the] baldness or rashes.”
Blair said she was terrified of being “found out.” Through all the symptoms, she was continually misdiagnosed by health professionals.
“I remember [feeling] very, very poorly on ‘Hellboy’ and was diagnosed with cat scratch fever and possible leukemia in Prague,” Blair added. “I couldn’t tell anybody. I couldn’t admit alcoholism or [access] treatment in my insurance for fear I’d be deemed an insurance risk. I fell apart once I got back to L.A.”
After wrapping production on 2008’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” Blair moved to television as a lead in the U.S. remake of “Kath & Kim.” Her symptoms worsened to the point that she had to pull away from the entertainment industry once the series wrapped filming.
“My autoimmune system was misfiring… losing most of my hair and all of my energy. I kinda bowed out [after the show],” Blair said. “It was a French exit and everybody else stayed at the party… My self-hatred was extreme. I could not manage well and I couldn’t even try to find work… It was a running joke. How far was the audition? How many naps would I fit in on the side of the road before and after? [When I quit acting] I spent my days in bed, crying, sometimes binge drinking, sometimes reading and sleeping, seeing doctors and healers… I gave up almost until the diagnosis. I was always terrified I would be deemed incapable. Or mentally unsound. My mother taught me that was death for a woman career-wise.”
Blair’s MS diagnosis brought a sense of clarity after years of symptoms that were never properly diagnosed. Head over to British Vogue’s website to read Blair’s cover story in its entirety.