Lena Dunham has explained why she took a break following the final season of Girls, describing it as “necessary to survive”.
After the sixth season premiered in 2017, the actor and writer faced criticism for defending Girls executive producer Murray Miller over rape allegations by actor Aurora Perrineau. Dunham later retracted her statement and apologised.
In 2018, Dunham entered rehab for an addiction to benzodiazepines, specifically Klonopin. In the same year, she underwent a hysterectomy to relieve the pain of endometriosis, broke up with longtime boyfriend Jack Antonoff and ended her creative partnership with Girls co-showrunner Jenni Konner.
Speaking to the Guardian about retreating from public life following Girls, Dunham said: “Though my voice is loud, I’m actually a person who feels most comfortable alone in the world of thoughts and books.
“I had an instinct that taking some time away was going to be necessary to survive – there was a little while there when I wasn’t hearing my own voice.”
Dunham described the public response to her naked body in the series as a “trauma all of its own”, adding: “I had always thought there was something crude or superficial about caring how people responded to me, so I tried really hard in my twenties to act as if I didn’t notice.
“I thought I could receive all this input about what a hideous cow I was and also hold on to this feeling that I am essentially, you know, lovely?”
She added: “I wasn’t hit with the signal that I was not ‘correctly formed’ until the public really let me know. I thought I could keep those two things separate. All of that feedback contributed to the formation of self. And I stopped being a person that I liked.”
Dunham’s latest project is Catherine Called Birdy, a medieval comedy film starring Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper and Joe Alwyn.
It’s her second film this year, following Sharp Stick, a comedy film starring Kristine Froseth and Jon Bernthal, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.