The emotional documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair” begins on an unexpectedly hilarious observe. The 49-year-old actress, who was recognized with a number of sclerosis (MS) just a few years in the past, makes joke after joke as she applies her make-up.
“Kim Kardashian sent me some makeup. I’m going to do a shoutout to her ’cause, God knows, no one knows who she is,” Blair quips as she glides a darkish shade from the influencer throughout her lips. She strikes on to portray her brows, saying, “More is more, especially when you have no eyelashes,” and “I feel like Cruella, but I feel good in this choice.”
But then, after a number of minutes of banter, whereas clad in an animal-print dress and a glittery turban, Blair grows instantly drained. Her speech turns into stilted and she or he struggles to get phrases out. “Well, this is what happens that I don’t want people to see,” she says, subtitles showing on the display to assist the viewers perceive her.
The documentary, in theaters Friday and on discovery+ Oct. 21, offers an intimate, unvarnished take a look at Blair’s struggles with the autoimmune dysfunction and her journey to bear a probably deadly stem cell transplant.
“She just kept showing up for me each day and telling me the truth and giving me herself in her fullness, which is extremely generous and very unique,” the movie’s director, Rachel Fleit, advised The Post, including that Blair gave her full artistic freedom. Blair wasn’t concerned within the documentary’s enhancing and solely requested one change: correcting a household photograph that was mislabeled.
“Her hand in … the shaping of the narrative was completely absent,” famous Fleit, 40, who is predicated in Brooklyn.
With iconic turns in “Cruel Intentions” — which included a risqué-for-the-time kiss with Sarah Michelle Gellar — “Legally Blonde” and “The Sweetest Thing,” Blair epitomized a sure kind of cool within the ’90s and early aughts. She was by no means the perky blonde star, however quite the darker, extra intriguing supporting character with a lithe glamour, simmering intelligence and stealthy gaze. She went on to have a profitable TV career, showing in reveals corresponding to “Anger Management,” “Kath & Kim” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” through which she nailed the position of Kris Jenner.
But her life took a stunning flip in August 2018 when she was recognized with MS. Two months later, she candidly shared the news on Instagram. “I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it,” she wrote. “And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.” The revealing put up at present has over 116,000 likes.
Rather than disguise, Blair sought to point out the world the realities and prospects of dwelling with a incapacity. She accessorized with stylish canes and walked the purple carpet on the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar get together in a wonderful Ralph & Russo black-and-pastel robe with a coordinating cape.
But her signs continued to worsen regardless of remedy, so in 2019, she made the choice to bear a stem cell transplant in Chicago at Northwestern University. The comparatively new, multistep process includes receiving a heavy spherical of chemotherapy to kill off the physique’s unhealthy immune system, as MS is a illness through which the physique assaults its personal central nervous system. Then, as soon as a affected person’s immunity is close to zero, they obtain an infusion of wholesome stem cells which were beforehand harvested from the affected person themselves or a donor, with the aim of the physique constructing a brand new, extra practical immune system.
Since 1995, greater than 3,000 sufferers with autoimmune ailments have undergone stem cell transplants. The illness can’t be totally cured, however, after two years, 83% of MS sufferers who underwent the process had no proof of illness exercise, and after 5 years, 67% have been nonetheless in remission. But the treatment can also be grueling and risky. In early trials, the fatality rate was over 7%.
As Blair ready for the treatment, documenting the journey appeared becoming, and a mutual pal linked her to Fleit in April 2019. The two hit it off and so they began making the movie the following month. Both respect gallows humor, and Fleit struggles with an autoimmune illness of her personal. She has alopecia and has been bald her complete life.
“Selma immediately connected our autoimmune things,” the filmmaker recalled. “She was like, ‘You’re bald and I have MS. What are we going to do about it?’”
In June 2019, Blair and a small crew traveled to Chicago for the stem cell transplant. Beforehand, Blair has to say goodbye to her son, Arthur, then 8 years outdated. She feels horrible bodily, however she summons the vitality for a recreation of dodgeball and dance get together to Usher’s “Yeah!” earlier than his departure.
“You can’t twerk with MS,” she says, however places forth a formidable effort.
When Arthur’s father, designer Jason Bleick, comes to select him up, it’s one of many movie’s extra emotional moments.
“Arthur, if you ever feel like calling me, awesome,” she tells him. “If you don’t, I totally get it.”
“Bye, tomato head,” he calls again to her, as she waves and cries from a distance, not sure when she’ll see him once more.
Later within the movie, Blair and Arthur are reunited in Chicago whereas she’s receiving treatment. The younger boy is nervous about her dropping her hair with the chemo, so Blair lets him preemptively shave her head.
“I’ll just have you cut it, so it’s not so surprising,” she tells him.
Such moments strike a distinction to the connection Blair had together with her personal mom. In one part of the movie, the actress leafs via outdated magazines and holds up a 1999 difficulty of “Seventeen” the place she was featured on the cover. She recollects how her mother, at all times important, advised her she appeared “so unimportant” on the journal.
“My mother tethered a darkness to me,” she mentioned. “It’s all about my mom. It’s never good enough, and it never will be.”
But she in the end involves phrases not solely together with her illness but additionally together with her mom’s negativity and its influence on her sense of self.
As she is present process the ultimate phases of her transplant, her mom is dying and Blair prays for each of them, asking for her mom to not be afraid.
“I’m embarrassed to say, [but] I’m at peace,” Blair later says. “I have huge moments where I’m not, but overall, I’m at peace.”
The stem cell transplant is in the end profitable, nevertheless it’s not fairly the miracle treatment that Blair hoped it will be. At the shut of the movie, she’s capable of return to riding her beloved horse however she nonetheless faces challenges.
“She’s like the rest of us, just getting through the day, good days and bad days,” Fleit mentioned. “This isn’t a sad story.”