Gentle reader, all is not well in the Ton. According to Bridgerton star Ruby Barker, neither Netflix nor production company Shondaland offered her any support when her time on the hit romantic drama caused her “two psychotic breaks.”
The actress — who plays Marina Crane in Bridgerton — opened up about her mental health struggles in a recent episode of Oxford University’s The LOAF podcast.
“Not a single person from Netflix, not a single person from Shondaland, since I have had two psychotic breaks from that show, have even contacted me or even emailed me to ask me if I’m OK or ask me if I would benefit from any sort of aftercare or support,” she said. “Nobody.”
Barker was first hospitalized one week after she finished shooting Bridgerton Season 1 in 2019. While she remained there for a year, her stay was “covered up” and “kept on the down-low” since the show was gearing up for its release in 2020.
“My Instagram following was going up, I had all of these engagements to do, my life was changing drastically overnight and yet there was still no support,” she said of her quick rise to fame following the show’s success. “And there still hasn’t been any support for that time. I was trying really, really hard to just sort of act like this is fine, this is OK, I’m OK, I can work.”
Promotional obligations only made things worse, according to Barker.
“It’s almost like I had this metaphorical and physical gun to my head to sell the show because the show’s bubbly and fun and all of these things,” she said. “I don’t want to come out and poo poo on that because then I may never work again.”
Part of what led to her breakdown was her isolating role as Marina — a character who is sent to live with her cousins, the Featheringtons, after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Throughout the season, she’s met with shame from her family members, who urge her to woo and marry Colin Bridgerton in order to save her image. When gossip columnist Lady Whistledown outs her secret, she’s ultimately forced to marry her deceased lover’s brother.
“During the filming, I was deteriorating,” Barker said. “It was a really tormenting place for me to be because my character was very alienated, very ostracized, on her own under these horrible circumstances.”
Following her second stint in the hospital, the actress took to her Instagram to reveal that she had been “really unwell for a really long time,” per Page Six.
“I was carrying the weight of the world on my back, and now I am at the point where I have a diagnosis, and I will talk to you about that at another time,” she said at the time. “I can’t carry on the way that I’ve been carrying on. I need to change, so that’s what I am trying to do. I want to survive, and I will survive. I am going to.”
Decider has reached out to Netflix and Shondaland for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 988.