Actress Selma Blair could have retreated to a private place when she was diagnosed in 2018 with Multiple Sclerosis, the progressive and often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Instead, she’s been remarkably candid on social media about her challenges, posting regular updates to her 2.5 million Instagram followers.
She takes her openness to new levels of intimacy in the documentary Introducing, Selma Blair, directed by Rachel Fleit, debuting in theaters October 15 and on the discovery+ streaming platform October 21. Her intense physical symptoms, shifting emotions, facing the possibility of death to undergo a stem cell transplant to treat her worsening condition—it’s all there in the film.
'Introducing, Selma Blair' Trailer Explores Actress Struggling With Multiple Sclerosis In Discovery+ Film
“I was incredibly open to it,” Blair said at the discovery+ TCA presentation Monday, speaking of the idea of doing a documentary on her MS battle. “But it wasn’t until we found Rachel, really, that that was a serious thing. And then I was all in.”
Fleit has spoken of the “instantaneous bond” she felt with Blair when they first met over FaceTime, a kinship fostered in part by the director’s own experience with the autoimmune disease alopecia, which caused her to lose her hair when she was just a toddler. She praised Blair for her exceptional candor.
“She was at this incredible place in her life of true vulnerability and she was ready to be completely honest and real and true about what was happening,” Fleit commented. “We had an incredible experience together. The most remarkable part is that nothing was off limits. She was ready in her life to just tell the truth of this experience.”
Blair looked stunning over the Zoom TCA panel feed, sporting short platinum blond hair, wearing a sharp, white and blue-pinstripe blazer. She displayed the strong sense of humor that’s also evident throughout the documentary.
“It can be very isolating when you get some diagnosis, for some people. For me, it wasn’t. It brought me out more,” she observed, then joked, “Because before I just thought I was batshit [crazy]. Which could still be the case, but batshit openly with MS and being symptomatic at times.”
Blair conceded, “My humor’s a bit sticky… Like Carrie Fisher said, ‘If it wasn’t funny then it would just be true…’ I do like humor and sometimes very inappropriate [humor] and I ask everyone’s forgiveness as I go on this journey in life. Oh, I’m sure I’ll be cancelled many times.”
Blair was asked about coping with MS even before Covid created a medical emergency for all of humanity.
“I just entered this pandemic time earlier than everyone,” she said. “I always felt for some reason there was something very universal about what I was going through. It didn’t feel a tragedy more than anyone has to make decisions to keep themselves as productive or as comfortable or hopeful as they can [during Covid]. And I really do feel now with this pandemic that we’ve all kind of had a diagnosis that’s ‘incurable.’ It’s called living, and we’re all dying and I think everyone’s really realized a lot of our mortality, what you want to do in this time, the panic… I absolutely feel we’re all in it now, in the same space I was.”
Fleit added, “I really saw Selma embrace herself over making this film and I think that having all of that time to reflect upon life that many people—myself included—had to really look at who we are and how we live and what’s important and how we can become a better person and Selma started that journey earlier than us.”
Blair offered words of support to Christina Applegate, after her friend and co-star in The Sweetest Thing revealed earlier this month that she had been diagnosed with MS, tweeting, “Loving you always. Always here.” During the TCA panel, Blair underscored that she’s glad to have a public platform to share her experience, but she’s not suggesting what she’s gone through applies to everyone.
“By no means am I saying that I’m speaking for all people with this condition or any condition of chronic illness or disability or anything,” Blair insisted. “I’m speaking my story and if that helps normalize one thing to open the door for other people to be comfortable telling their stories, it could also be enlightening and informative and helps people build new ways of being with love and support, then I’m thrilled to have this here.”
She shared a positive assessment of her current health.
“My prognosis is great. I’m in remission,” Blair noted. “Stem cell, HSTC [haematopoietic stem cell transplantation] put me in remission. It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down. I was reluctant to talk about it because I felt this need to be more healed, more ‘fixed.’”
Blair said she’s never viewed herself as a victim despite the difficulties she has faced.
“I never did feel, “Why me?’ And I always felt like I could rise to this,” she said. “I knew that there were real glitches and real sacrifices or things you have to give up that I get, that I don’t think about so much yet, that I can’t do physically or emotionally. Cognitively, I’m very changed and that’s been the harder part. But never a ‘Why me?’ It’s absolutely a lesson for me that I’m glad to take on.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.