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‘Shallow Hal’ led to dark times for woman who played Gwyneth Paltrow’s body double

<i>Moviestore/Shutterstock</i><br/>Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black on set for
Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black on set for "Shallow Hal."

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) — Ivy Snitzer is sharing how appearing in “Shallow Hal” led to some dark days for her.

In an interview with The Guardian, Snitzer talked about having been a 20-year-old aspiring actress when she worked as the body double for Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2001 film in which Paltrow portrayed an obese woman.

While Snitzer said the cast and crew “treated me like I really mattered, like they couldn’t make the movie without me” and she was made to “feel really comfortable,” she said “it didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people.”

“It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified,” Snitzer said of the film’s release. “And no one was telling me I was funny.”

What followed was people accusing her of promoting obesity and approaching her on the street, she said.

“I got really scared,” she recalled. “I was like: maybe I’m done with the concept of fame, maybe I don’t want to be an actor. Maybe I’ll do something else.”

After leaving Los Angeles and moving back home to New York City to live with her parents, Snitzer said within two years she was “technically starving to death.”

Following gastric band surgery in 2003, her band slipped, Snitzer explained, “and I got a torsion – like dogs get and then die.”

Unable to consume anything of substance without throwing up, she said she lived off of sports drinks and nutritional shakes that had been watered down.

“I was so thin you could see my teeth through my face and my skin was all grey,” Snitzer said. “And I was just so bitchy all the time. I kind of alienated a lot of my friends. My mother was also dying; it was bleak. Humans shouldn’t have to experience how very bleak that particular time in my life was.”

Her malnourished state meant doctors couldn’t perform corrective surgery and further complications resulted in her having to receive a gastric bypass, which leaves her now only able to eat very small portions, Snitzer said.

And while getting weight loss surgery was more about a doctor telling her it would save her life than appearing in “Shallow Hal,” she now says that at the time of filming she felt both insecure and confident.

“I wasn’t body positive, because it didn’t really exist that way,” she said. “I was kind of ‘me positive’, because I was like: I’m funny, that’s good enough!”

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