The One ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ Scene Jillian Bell Vowed Never to Do Again

Brittany Runs a Marathon finally gives Jillian Bell a chance to star in her own movie. It’s a great vehicle for both her comedy and showing her dramatic side. One of the dramatic scenes in Brittany Runs a Marathon was so harrowing for Bell and her costar, they vowed never to do a scene like it again. This article discusses that scene so may be considered a minor spoiler for Brittany Runs a Marathon, just in case you want to see the movie before you read any more about it. 

Jillian Bell in Brittany Runs a Marathon
Jillian Bell in Brittany Runs a Marathon | Amazon Studios

Jillian Bell spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about the scene in Brittany Runs a Marathon. Brittany Runs a Marathon premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now in theaters everywhere from Amazon Studios. 

Jillian Bell said this scene was difficult in ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ 

Brittany (Bell) trains for a marathon after a doctor warns her she’s having health problems due to her lifestyle. Though she loses some weight, she also faces setbacks running too. At that point, she meets Jasmine (Sarah Bolt) at a barbecue and lashes out at her based on her weight.

Brittany Runs a Marathon
Jillian Bell and Micah Stock in Brittany Runs a Marathon | Anna Kooris/Amazon Studios

“It was a very difficult scene to do,” Bell said. “I knew it would be difficult but it was very necessary for the movie and the brilliant actress that we got, Sarah Bolt, who played Jasmine in that scene, she understood it too. We had a lengthy conversation about how we were going to shoot it and what it meant to the film. She was so great in the film, especially the scene where she reads the letter. She’s very powerful and I hope we get to work together again.”

‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ shows how the bullied can become bullies

The movie makes it clear that Brittany is in the wrong in that scene. It’s also sympathetic to why Brittany goes there. Hurt people hurt people, and Brittany is hurting. Bell hopes dramatizing that will make it unnecessary to ever belittle someone again.

“That’s what happens,” Bell said. “That’s what’s happening with bullying in general.”

Jillian Bell in Brittany Runs a Marathon
Jillian Bell in Brittany Runs a Marathon | Amazon Studios

Fortunately, Brittany is not so far gone that she can’t come back. It takes crossing that line for her to see it though.

“By that point, you’ve understood and empathized and related to these characters so much that even when she’s mean, you feel bad for her,” writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo said. “I want the audience to go on that journey with the character.”

Jillian Bell hopes ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ can be the last fat-shaming scene

Brittany Runs a Marathon hopes to inspire all the Brittanies out there, and not just women. Fat shaming is, unfortunately, something people deal with in real life, but Bell hopes it never has to be dramatized again after her scene with Bolt. At least, not for those two actors.

Brittany Runs a Marathon
Michaela Watkins, Micah Stock, Jillian Bell, Paul Downs Colaizzo, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Alice Lee and Lil Rel Howery from ‘Brittany Runs A Marathon’| Aaron Richter/Getty Images for Pizza Hut

“On a personal level, we both agreed when we were done with the scene,” Bell said. “I told her I’ve done both sides of this scene now. I’ve played roles before where you have to be in this position and I said let’s just never do it again after this. It serves a purpose in this film but beyond that, we said let’s never do anything like this again where we’re putting ourself down.”

The director of ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ supported Jillian Bell and Sarah Bolt’s decision

Paul Downs Colaizzo wrote Brittany Runs a Marathon inspired by his friend Brittany O’Neill, and directed the movie. He supported Bell and Bolt taking ownership of that scene, because they came to it from a place from which he could never come.

Brittany O'Neill, Paul Downs Colaizzo and Jillian Bell
The real Brittany O’Neill, director Paul Downs Colaizzo and Jillian Bell attend the “Brittany Runs A Marathon” Premiere | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

“As much as I am a creator of the story, I know that there are parts of it that I will never understand fully,” Colaizzo said. “I think part of that is understanding that sometimes you can’t understand. You can academically understand what somebody might feel or draw parallels to your own life, but I’m not a woman. I will never know what it’s like to be a woman and the fact that I created the story doesn’t give me total ownership over any of it.”

‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ Never Makes Fun of Brittany Either

In real life, O’Neill trained for a marathon and changed her life. In Brittany Runs a Marathon, Brittany may be at an exaggerated low point in the beginning. However, the film is always rooting for Brittany.

“To me, that was very important,” Bell said. “Paul, throughout this whole film, knew anything I ever asked him. I asked him a million questions about intention and what we’re saying with the film. He always had an answer and everything just felt right. We had such a good connection going into this, knowing we were making something that was special for both of us.”

Jillian Bell
Jillian Bell at the “Brittany Runs A Marathon” afterparty | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for AT&T and DIRECTV

The health crisis is a good motivator for Brittany. She realizes taking care of herself should be a priority.

“It’s very hard to move backwards after that point and it sets her in motion to figure out how she can put herself first for the first time in her life,” Bell said, “I think it’s showing her being stuck in that and how do you get out of that?”