Americans have a 3.5 in 1,000 chance of developing Multiple Sclerosis, according to the MS Association of America. A few Americans might personally know someone afflicted with the condition, but for many the reality of MS is far out of mind. But if Selma Blair has her way, by the time her new film on discovery+ is viewed by audiences across the country, more Americans than ever before will have an intimate look at life with the disease. “Introducing, Selma Blair” takes an unflinching look at the actress’s struggle during a relapse of her MS, bringing cameras into her most painful and personal moments.
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is a disease of the spinal cord and brain when the body’s immune system attacks the protective layer surrounding nerves. The corrosion of the nerve’s protective coating can result in blindness (temporary or permanent), loss of muscle control, and shooting pains, in addition to a wide variety of other symptoms. Blair’s MS is relapsing-remitting, meaning she has periods of symptoms and attacks followed by calmer remission.
Blair sought out the project, as opposed to having someone approach her with the idea, because as she said during Discovery’s panel at the Television Critic’s Association’s summer press tour, “when I was first looking at it, I just couldn't find – I wanted examples. I wanted to feel like I wasn't going crazy. Why can this work when I'm at home and then I go out and I'm overwhelmed and things fall apart?” Blair has been very public with her illness, culminating in this project. “I just wanted to lead by example of saying this is just where I am…if I slow down and have patience with myself, I do find this too shall pass, whether it’s a glitch in thinking, a movement or something else. Everyone’s journey is their own so I can only speak for myself. But I've always been very calm in my diagnosis because I've been carrying around some sort of chronic illness, either building up or had, for a long time.”
Blair, who is known for her iconic roles in films such as “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde,” also dealt with the death of her mother during filming, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to travel or gather with loved ones. “This film was my love for my son, for Troy, my long-time friend, for my mother, and what it means.” Blair also remarked that people can find common ground in the film as the world experienced periods of lockdown during the pandemic, which is what Blair experiences outside of the pandemic due to her illness. “I felt as though it was very universal. I didn’t feel I was doing this film for me… It really felt like this was about me just wanting to tell you none of you are alone and we're all alone.”
Discovery+ is hoping the film will help people with chronic illnesses, as well as inform the general public about what living with a condition like MS really looks like, the things they might not expect to see. Director Rachel Fleit told press during the panel that she kept the cameras rolling even during a few medical emergencies that Blair experienced because “Selma was ready to tell this story in all of its honesty and rawness and truth.” Fleit also remarked about the film, “If someone else has a chronic illness or disability, or just walking around in the world feeling uncomfortable in their skin, I think she really has been an inspiration to show us.”
“I am beyond pleased and proud to have discovery+ be the home for my film ‘debut’ and for believing in the power of storytelling as a way to connect us all. I may be the subject of this film but my hope is that everyone sees themselves in it and finds some strength and joy they may not have known they had,” said Blair. Audiences can watch “Introducing, Selma Blair” when it premieres on discovery+ October 21.