Her name is Courtney Thorne-Smith, and she has an eating disorder. The former star of Ally McBeal tells US Weekly that the pressure to be thin ultimately led her to quit the Fox dramedy.
"I started undereating, overexercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system," the 33-year-old actress says. "The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset about my body was insane."
Thorne-Smith, who reprised her Ally role as attorney Georgia Thomas on the show's season premiere, said the breaking point came last year when she learned she would have to do a nude scene. "I ate fruit all week just to try to be really lean by Friday," the ex-Melrose Place heroine recalls of the May 18, 1999 Ally episode. "I remember Gil [Bellows, who played her hubby, Billy] said, 'You look good,' and I was like, 'I'd better. I haven't had a piece of chicken in five days.' There was something terribly wrong with that."
Since leaving Ally at the end of last season, Thorne-Smith — who won't rule out making more guest appearances in the future — has regained about 10-15 pounds, not to mention control of her life. Still, body image issues continue to weigh heavily on her mind.
"To be totally honest, if I could be thinner without it causing a lot of pain and anxiety in my life, I would be," says Thorne-Smith, who last June wed genetic scientist Andrew Conrad. "But today the reality is my life is more important to me than my weight — and thank God for that."