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20 Celebrities With Chronic and Mental Illnesses Nominated for Golden Globes

By Juliette Virzi and Renée Fabian

Regardless of who wins in the end, the 77th nominees for the Golden Globes prove that health-related movies and TV series made a big splash in the past year. In combination with a group of nominated actors who talk openly about living with a chronic illness, mental health condition or disability, the 2020 Golden Globes are shaping up to be a strong year for representation.

Actors Tim Allen, Dakota Fanning and Susan Kelechi Watson announced the nominees for the 2020 Golden Globes on Monday, which honor excellence in film and TV. Among the nominated movies and TV series, productions that focused on mental health or trauma — “Unbelievable,” “The Act,” “Russian Doll,” “Bombshell” and “Living With Yourself” all earned nominations.

“Unbelievable” turned a Pulitzer-prize winning story about one woman’s rape into a Netflix true crime series that epitomizes many of the major issues of the #MeToo era: the pervasiveness of sexual assault, how survivors who report to police are not believed and, in the case of “Unbelievable,” the powerful journey toward justice for sexual assault survivors. The series tied for most nominations for this year’s Golden Globes with four, including best television limited series or motion picture made for television.

Perhaps the strongest endorsement for Netflix’s “Unbelievable” came from Marie, the real-life rape survivor at the center of the story. She told Ken Armstrong, one of the reporters who initially covered her story, that the series helped her find closure in ways she didn’t expect.

“Two weeks ago I got a call, from Marie. She told me she had just watched the series,” Armstrong tweeted. “Watching it was hard, she said. ‘I did cry quite a bit,’ she said. But she had decided she wanted to and was glad that she did. She called the show ‘excellent.’”

Like many of the TV series and movies nominated for Golden Globes, this year will also celebrate the celebrities who make normalizing living with a chronic illness, mental illness or disability part of their platform. Whether they’re speaking candidly about their own health or advocating on behalf of others living with a health condition or disability, here are 20 Golden Globe nominees with health conditions you can root for.

1. Awkwafina

Awkwafina, known for her supporting roles in movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Ocean’s 8,” has struggled with anxiety since losing her mother when she was 4 years old.

“Anxiety was one of the first emotions that I learned,” she said in a Teen Vogue video. “The way that I dealt with anxiety or losing my mom, you know, was not holding that sadness in, which I think was my instinctual response. Letting it out was really helpful.”

Awkwafina is nominated for best performance by an actress in a motion picture — musical or comedy for her role in “The Farewell.”

2. Kathy Bates

“American Horror Story” and “Fried Green Tomatoes” star Kathy Bates was diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer in 2003 and later with breast cancer in 2012.

“I didn’t tell anybody,” she told People magazine. “My agent at the time was very old-school and didn’t want me to be the poster child for ovarian cancer. I didn’t want anyone to know, but it really took a lot out of me.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Bates decided to get a double mastectomy, as her family had a history of cancer. Though she’s now cancer-free, Bates lives with lymphedema, a disease often caused by the removal of or damage to lymph nodes during cancer treatment. It is a long-term condition that causes swelling and pain.

“It’s a souvenir you definitely don’t want,” Bates said about her lymphedema.

Bates is nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in any motion picture for her role in “Richard Jewell.”

3. Laura Dern

Actress Laura Dern believed she was one of the “lucky ones” who escaped sexual harassment in the workplace — until she heard actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Lawrence share their experiences. It was then she realized she had been harassed and assaulted at age 14.

“It was an extraordinary experience, perhaps more than ever, to have this shared space and a tribe of women and artists talking about this industry, and ultimately therefore talking about sexual harassment in the workplace,” she told Ellen Degeneres. “It was my mom who said, ‘No, no, no, Laura — that was sexual assault. That was harassment. That was assault. No, you were 14 then.’”

Last year, Dern starred in “The Tale” a film based on writer and director Jennifer Fox’s own experience of childhood sexual abuse. The movie centers on Jennifer (played by Dern) as she begins to piece together repressed childhood memories and realize her first sexual experience was actually child abuse.

Dern is nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in any motion picture for her role in “Marriage Story.”

4. Leonardo DiCaprio

Posted by Leonardo DiCaprio on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

In order to get into character for his role as Howard Hughes (who lived with undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder) in the film “The Aviator,” Leonardo DiCaprio tapped into his own struggles with OCD.

“I can talk myself through it, you know, whereas Howard Hughes couldn’t do that and people with hard-core OCD can’t,” DiCaprio, told The Telegraph, adding:

During filming I let it all go and I never listened to the other voice, so I remember my make-up artist and assistant walking me to the set and going, ‘Oh, God, here he goes again. We’re going to need 10 minutes to get him to the set today because he has to walk back and step on that thing and touch the door in a certain way and then walk in and walk out again.’ I let myself do it because I wanted that to come out. I was trying to be the character. It became real bothersome, even after the filming.

DiCaprio is nominated for best performance by an actor in a motion picture — musical or comedy for his role in “Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood.” 

5. Tom Hanks

“Forrest Gump” actor Tom Hanks has been open about his type 2 diabetes for years. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and affects the body’s ability to use insulin properly, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You know those high blood sugar numbers you’ve been dealing with since you were 36? Well, you’ve graduated! You’ve got type 2 diabetes, young man,’” Hanks shared on “The Late Show With David Letterman” in 2013.

Hanks believes ignoring the medical advice his doctor gave him and continuing to eat however he wanted led to his diagnosis.

Hanks is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in any motion picture for his role in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” 

6. Sir Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins, perhaps best known for his role as serial killer Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” struggled with alcoholism early in his career.

“That’s what you do in theatre, you drink,” Hopkins said to a group of 500 U.S. students last year. “But I was very difficult to work with as well because I was usually hungover.”

Hopkins said he turned away from alcohol use when a woman from Alcoholics Anonymous asked him, “Why don’t you just trust in God?” After her question, he no longer had the desire to drink.

“From my own life, I still cannot believe that my life is what it is because I should have died in Wales, drunk or something like that,” he said.

Hopkins is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in any motion picture for his role in “The Two Popes.”

7. Jennifer Lopez

Could not be prouder to be recognized by the #HFPA. Ramona was a complicated character and it was an honor and challenge to bring her to life. Hustlers was a labor of love, sweat and perseverance written, directed, produced, edited and starring a group of bad-ass women. I am proud and honored to represent them and this film!!!! ♥️ #HustlersMovie #ramona

Posted by Jennifer Lopez on Monday, December 9, 2019

 Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez opened up about her struggles with depression after her divorce from singer Marc Anthony in 2014 after seven years of marriage.

“It was so hard to get out of bed,” she told Page Six. “I was going through one of the hardest moments of my life with my separation and with the kids and everything.”

In addition to depression, Lopez shared how emotional abuse in past relationships impacted her mental health.

“I’ve never gotten a black eye or busted lip, but I have been in relationships where I felt abused one way or another: mentally, emotionally, verbally,” she told E! News. “I know what it feels like for your soul to be diminished by the way your loved one is treating you.”

Lopez is nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role in any motion picture for her role in “Hustlers.”

8. Al Pacino

Posted by The Irishman on Monday, December 9, 2019

Actor and filmmaker Al Pacino, best known for his role as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather,” is no stranger to mental health struggles. In a press conference for his movie, “The Humbling,” he said he related to his character in the film because he has experienced depression himself.

“People go into depressions and it’s very sad and it’s terrifying,” he said. “I’ve had bouts with [depression] … but nothing that deep. I feel spared and I’m lucky.” 

Al Pacino is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in any motion picture for his role in “The Irishman.”

9. Charlize Theron

After gaining a significant amount of weight for her role as Marlo in the 2018 film “Tully,” Charlize Theron began to struggle with depression for the first time in her life.

“I wanted to feel what this woman felt, and I think that was a way for me to get closer to her and get into that mindset,” Theron said. “It was a huge surprise to me. I got hit in the face pretty hard with depression.”

To gain weight for the role, Theron upped her intake of sugar and processed foods, both of which have been studied and linked to depression by researchers in the past.

Theron is nominated for best performance by an actress in a motion picture — drama for her role in “Bombshell.”

10. Emma Thompson

Actress Emma Thompson has spoken candidly about her mental health for years. After divorcing her first husband Kenneth Branagh in 1995, Thompson struggled with depression.

“I don’t think I did stay sane,” she said on “Desert Island Discs,” a BBC radio show. “I should have sought professional help. Divorce. Ghastly, painful business.”

She attributes much of her ability to get through this difficult period to her work on the “Sense and Sensibility” screenplay and the support of her now-husband Greg Wise, whom she met while working on the set of the film.

Thompson is nominated for best performance by an actress in a motion picture — musical or comedy for her role in “Late Night.” 

11. Renée Zellweger

A performance that went beyond the rainbow. ???? Congratulations to Renée Zellweger on her Golden Globes nomination! #JudyTheFilm

Posted by Judy on Monday, December 9, 2019

After a streak of disappointing movies, in 2010, actress Renée Zellweger took a step back from the spotlight for about six years. In this time, she went to therapy and realized she had been struggling with depression.

“I wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was the last thing on my list of priorities,” she told Vulture, adding:

Nothing like international humiliation to set your perspective right! It clarifies what’s important to you… One of the fears that maybe, as artists, we all share — because we have this public experience of being criticized not just for our work but as human beings — is when it gets to be too much, when you learn that your skin is not quite as thick as you need it to be.

Zellweger is nominated for best performance by an actress in a motion picture — drama for her role in “Judy.”

12. Brian Cox

It's executive-level business.Congratulations to the cast and crew of Succession on the "Best Television Series – Drama" Golden Globes nomination, as well as Kieran Culkin and Brian Cox on their performance nominations.

Posted by Succession on Monday, December 9, 2019

The Scottish actor behind roles in films such as “Super Troopers,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Braveheart,” Cox lives with type 2 diabetes and advocates for others with the condition.

“Like many Scots, I am living with diabetes and I am aware of the various challenges it can bring,” Cox shared in a 2017 PSA video. “To help me stay healthy, I make sure I attend my diabetes check-up appointments … and I encourage all people with diabetes to do the same.”

Cox is nominated for best performance by an actor in a television series — drama for “Succession.”

13. Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate first rose to fame in the sitcom “Married… With Children.” She’s also been outspoken about women’s health after surviving breast cancer.

“When I first came out about my breast cancer I didn’t want to talk about it, but I had to, because young women were getting it,” Applegate told People. “They weren’t understanding that women that were 36 were getting breast cancer, or women that were 28 were getting breast cancer, and they were opting not to get MRIs when they were high-risk because of the cost. My activism came out.”

Applegate is nominated for best performance by an actress in a television series — comedy or musical for “Dead to Me.”

14. Kirsten Dunst

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After Kirsten Dunst completed treatment for depression in a rehab facility in 2008, she’s also taken on several roles that focus on mental health, including “Melancholia,” to help raise awareness.

“I have experienced depression, Many people have. Mine was caused by a few things,” Dunst told British Elle. “I did [‘Melancholia’] and talked about how the light goes out of your eyes. People don’t talk about depression, so for me it was really amazing that this was going to be portrayed.”

Dunst is nominated for best performance by an actress in a television series — comedy or musical for her role in the series “On Becoming a God in Central Florida.”

15. Natasha Lyonne

Fresh off her stint in “Orange Is the New Black,” Natasha Lyonne’s newest project, “Russian Doll,” also touches on themes of mental illness, inspired in part of Lyonne’s willingness to talk about the years she spent struggling with addiction.

“Those are the same years I spent developing something to say,” Lyonne told The Cut. ”Having such a specific experience enabled me to have a specific point of view, even though it was a nightmare getting through so much of it.”

Lyonne is nominated for best performance by an actress in a television series — comedy or musical for “Russian Doll.”

16. Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas, who first broke out for playing an inspector on the 1970s TV series “The Streets of San Francisco,” was diagnosed and underwent treatment for throat cancer in 2010.

“I check every six months,” Douglas told People. “I believe, and I hope, that I’ve escaped. One thing is certain, my cancer has made me a free man.”

Douglas is nominated for best performance by an actor in a television series — comedy or musical for “The Kominsky Method.”

17. Bill Hader

Lights. Camera. Assassin. The cast of Barry took to the red carpet to celebrate the premiere, this Sunday at 10:30PM on HBO.

Posted by Barry on Thursday, March 22, 2018

Comedian Bill Hader kept you laughing on “Saturday Night Live” for years before going on to other work. He’s also open about living with anxiety.

“What helped me was learning that it doesn’t really go away. You manage it,” Hader told Men’s Health. “Instead of pushing that thing away and trying to fight it, I would just go ‘Hey, oh hey buddy,’ like it was a little monkey, and I would just kinda go ‘OK, sit on my shoulder, let’s hang out, let’s just chill out.’”

Hader is nominated for best performance by an actor in a television series — comedy or musical for “Barry.”

18. Alan Arkin

The Kominsky Method | First Fight

We think Norman lost this argument.

Posted by The Kominsky Method on Monday, October 28, 2019

Alan Arkin’s acting career spans six decades, gaining fame for his role in 1966’s ” The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.” The Academy award winner had a “mini-stroke” in 2015, and meditation has become an important part of his well-being.

“People are focused on the practical side of meditation, that it lowers blood pressure, relieves stress and things like that,” Arkin told Parade. “But, by the same token, meditation also gets into an area of human consciousness that medicine is only getting a vague understanding of.”

Arkin is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, limited series or motion picture made for television for “The Kominsky Method.”

19. Andrew Scott

In addition to “Fleabag” fame, actor Andrew Scott uses his platform to reduce mental health stigma thanks to his own experiences, including the difficulty of always being told to “be positive.”

“For me, it’s like weather. Sometimes it’s f***ing storming down on you,” Scott said, according to MSN. “This idea of west coast positivity p***es me off, the idea of putting a positive spin on it. I don’t think it’s healthy.”

Scott is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, limited series or motion picture made for television for “Fleabag.”

20. Henry Winkler

Henry Winkler (Gene M. Cousineau)

Posted by Barry on Thursday, March 22, 2018

Henry Winkler may have been the coolest guy on the block thanks to his turn as “the Fonz” on “Happy Days,” but he also shares how he faced many challenges growing up with dyslexia.

“”I thought I was stupid … You take that mantle with you when it’s said often enough and when you’re young enough,” Winkler told NPR. “At 31, I found out I wasn’t stupid, that I wasn’t lazy — that I had something with a name.”

Winkler is nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, limited series or motion picture made for television for “Barry.”

The 77th Golden Globes will air on Jan. 5, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.

Header Image Created via Creative Commons/Presidencia de la República Mexicana, Etiënne Ripzaad and Georges Biard