My long poem based on the movie appears in my poetry collection.
But just before production began on I’ll Cry Tomorrow, the pressures of Hayward’s private life, along with the demands of the role, overwhelmed her. She was going through a messy divorce from actor Jess Barker, and a nasty custody battle for their twin sons. One night, Hayward took an overdose of sleeping pills. Before she blacked out, Hayward called her mother, who called police. Hayward barely survived. She never spoke publicly about why she tried to kill herself, but her own experience must have informed the harrowing scene she filmed a few weeks later, in which Roth attempts suicide.
In fact, enacting Roth’s agony seems to have been cathartic for Hayward, and the sensitive direction she received from Mann resulted in a performance of great intensity from her. Together, they had visited jails, hospitals, and AA meetings to prepare. Before they shot a scene, star and director talked quietly about its emotions. If anger was needed, Hayward would work herself into a rage; if the emotion was grief, she was ready once she began sobbing. She held nothing back. And she let go of movie star vanity as well. “Danny Mann checked every detail,” Hayward said later. “He wouldn’t let me cheat with lipstick or even a curl. If he thought my hair wasn’t mussed enough, he put water on his hands and mashed it down.”
Here’s the real Lillian Roth: