Ivy Snitzer says her experience as Gwyneth Paltrow’s body double in “Shallow Hal” had an intense impact on her health and well-being.
Snitzer opened up about working on the 2001 film in an interview with The Guardian published Tuesday, where she explained how a positive on-set experience was tainted by fatphobic backlash, which eventually led her to develop a life-threatening eating disorder.
The aspiring-actor was just 20 years old when she landed a part in the Farelly brothers film, which followed a superficial single man named Hal who is hypnotized to only see inner beauty.
He then falls head over heels for Paltrow’s character Rosemary, whom he would have rejected before his magical intervention.
To depict Paltrow as overweight, “Shallow Hal” mixed shots of the actor in a fat suit with close-up footage of Snitzer’s arms, torso and thighs.
At the time, Snitzer thought her character, Rosemary, was a breath of fresh air.
“At that point, if you saw someone obese in a movie, they were a villain,” she said. “(Rosemary) was cool, she was popular, she had friends.”
While Snitzer remembered being “really comfortable” with the cast and crew during production, things totally changed following the film’s release.
“It didn’t occur to me that the film would be seen by millions of people,” she told The Guardian. “It was like the worst parts about being fat were magnified.”
Harassment from strangers led her down a dangerous path. Some accused her of promoting obesity, and one cruel person even mailed diet pills to her home address.
“I hated my body the way I was supposed to,” she said. “I ate a lot of salads. I had eating disorders that I was very proud of.”
After a gastric band surgery in 2003, Snitzer became so frail she said she was “technically starving to death.”
“I was so thin you could see my teeth through my face and my skin was all grey,” she remembered.
After a second surgery and time healing, Snitzer was able to take control of her health. Still, her time in Hollywood was enough to dampen her acting dreams forever.
“I love that it’s a cool thing I did one time,” she said. “It didn’t make me feel bad about myself. Until you know, other people started telling me I probably should have felt bad about myself.”
Paltrow said she faced similar judgement about being big while wearing padding to film “Shallow Hal.”
“The first day I tried the fat suit on, I was in the Tribeca Grand, and I walked through the lobby,” she told W magazine in 2020. “It was so sad. It was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese. I felt humiliated.”