Olivia Cooke, who stars in Me And Earl And The Dying Girl as teenage cancer patient Rachel, has said she felt it was necessary to shave her head to make the portrayal true to other cancer sufferers.
The film follows Greg (Thomas Mann), an awkward high-school student who befriends a fellow pupil called Rachel, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Earl is Greg’s pal (played by RJ Cyler), with whom he makes short film parodies of classic movies.
Though she first tried out bald caps to depict Rachel’s post-chemotherapy hair loss, Olivia said that proved “a complete failure” – so she decided get rid of the hair.
The British actress enlisted her co-stars’ help to shave off her thick brunette locks.
“It was funny at first, because we shaved a Mohawk in and were laughing manically,” the actress revealed. “For it to all be on the floor within 10, 15 minutes, it was scary. I’ve never felt my scalp before, I’ve never seen the shape of my head. I sobbed for a bit, but then it was good.”
The 21-year-old’s hair has now grown back into a pixie crop.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who directed the film, explained: “She really led that charge and was like, ‘This is the right thing for this character, how can I be true to this character and be true to other people who have leukaemia?’
“It was fascinating to see what shaving her head and then shooting a scene the next day did. She was in the zone. She became Rachel.”
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl was released in UK cinemas on Friday, September 4.