What was your first reaction upon encountering this material?
People fall into two camps: Either you hear about the story of Christine and you go, “That’s a frightening, horrible thing–she must have been a monster.” Or you’re curious and vaguely sympathetic.
You must have fallen into the second camp.
I thought, Wait a minute. It’s about mental-health issues, but there’s something brutally relatable here, because you’re looking at a woman who is a misfit, and weird. Often that’s portrayed as cool and hip, but it’s so rare, especially for a woman, for that to be portrayed as agony–the pain of thinking that you don’t fit in.
Was it challenging to step into the shoes of such a tortured character?
As a lady, you don’t get to do those roles so often. People are so frightened of an unlikable woman onscreen. It was impossible to get funding for this movie–we ended up making it on a shoestring in 22 days. In many ways, I probably couldn’t have handled more than that.
Even though the film is very dark, is there something ultimately redeeming about it?
Everyone has a day where they’re like, I’m not doing well at being me. Everyone knows what it’s like to be depressed. Sometimes you really fail at being normal. At its heart, there’s a positive message–that people are more accepting of us on our darkest days than we sometimes think.
Are you pleased with the reception of the film?
I don’t think you get a [role like] Christine more than three times in your career if you are extraordinarily lucky, extraordinarily successful and probably a man. I really want people to see it. I’ve even joined Instagram, for God’s sake!
This appears in the October 24, 2016 issue of TIME.