Andra Day went into full method acting to play Billie Holiday for Hulu’s The United States v. Billie Holiday. The Rise Up singer who’s pin-up style and soulful voice made her the perfect candidate to portray Holiday lost 40 pounds to get into character. She even took on Holiday’s smoking habit, drank all day and cussed a whole lot to really capture the beloved blues singer’s essence.
In a recent interview with W Magazine, Day revealed the extreme lengths she went through to go from 163 to 124 pounds.
“There was the drastic weight loss—I wanted to have a body that looked like that period in time,” she explained. “Starving myself made me very weak on set and slowed me down in a way that really helped with the scenes with heroin. Then I started smoking cigarettes; it made me feel like Billie. I’m very fast, and she’s like molasses. Smoking helped to drop me into those dark places.”
While we don’t recommend staving yourself to lose weight (and Day doesn’t either), she’s been enjoying her svelte new frame and taking plenty of nudies to capture her new body.
Day has been praised for her performance in the Lee Daniels directed film that depicts Billie Holiday’s battle against the US government, which sought to stop her song “Strange Fruit” from being played. Trevante Rhodes stars as agent Jimmy Fletcher.
In the same interview Day reveals she was horrified when she first accepted the role but was encouraged by Lee Daniels. “Lee believed in me enough to take a chance that even he was terrified about. And so was I. But here we are…
And the rave reviews for Day’s performance haven’t stopped coming in. She also scored a Golden Globe and Critics Choice nomination for best actress.
The United States v. Billie Holiday hits HULU February 26, 2021.