It’s been 20 years since Girl, Interrupted first hit theaters, but there’s no doubt that the indie film’s legacy has been everlasting.
Based on Susanna Kaysen’s 1993 memoir, Girl, Interrupted tells the harrowing story of a teenager’s 1967 stay in a mental institution after she attempted to take her own life. When she was 18, Kaysen was admitted to McClean Hospital near Boston, where she stayed for over a year after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Kaysen, played by Winona Ryder, befriends a number of other young patients, including Daisy (Brittany Murphy), Lisa (Angelina Jolie) and Polly (Elisabeth Moss). The women suffer from a range of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and sociopathic disorder. Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto and Whoopi Goldberg also star in the dark drama.
The project was near and dear to Ryder’s heart, having spent time at a facility herself when she was 20 years old. “I was overworked and overtired — too tired to sleep,” she recalled in a 1999 interview with the New York Times. “I was in a really bad state.”
Jolie, at the time an up-and-coming actress, also looked back at the film as a transformative moment in her career. After all, it’s the project that turned her an Academy Award winner and a household name.
“At the end of the film there’s a certain sense of them saying to Lisa, ‘Nobody wants you to live, nobody likes the way you are — you’d be better off if you were sedated and tied down and shut up,” Jolie said of her Girl, Interrupted character during a 2001 interview with Rolling Stone. “Am I just too loud and too wild and do I just need to let everybody live their lives and shut up and calm down?’”
Jolie continued, remembering the character fondly: “She lived too big, was too honest, was too hungry, was too full of life.”
Scroll down to see how the Girl, Interrupted cast has changed throughout the years.