In her comedy, there are few places Sarah Silverman fears to go, and the same seems to be true of her dramatic choices. “It was so clear from early on in the shoot that Sarah was giving everything to it and she was really just inspiring everyone so much,” I Smile Back director Adam Salky told me last month onstage at The Contenders Presented By Deadline. “And was just so fearless in the way she attacked the role.”

contenders-sold-outIn the film based on Amy Koppelman’s 2008 novel, the Emmy-winning actress plays an upper-middle-class mother and wife who is destroying herself and her family in a losing battle with mental illness and addiction. Although she has appeared in the likes of Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, I Smile Back is her first dramatic lead. Former The Good Wife star Josh Charles plays Bruce Brooks, the husband of Silverman’s Laney. The script for the Broad Green-distributed I Smile Back was co-written by Koppelman and Paige Dylan.

“It just goes to such a real and uncompromising place in the end that I find I am emotionally affected by it, and I’ve seen it now hundreds of times,” Salky admits of the Sundance 2015 entry.

Click on the video above to see more of the conversation.