Fair warning: AnnaLynne McCord’s new film Condition of Return is no easy watch — and she was initially reluctant to sign on for the project.
“I had to figure out why I didn’t want to do it — and it’s because of the nature of the film,” the 90210 alum, 36, tells Us Weekly in an exclusive interview. “When I read this script, I was like, ‘Wow, I will not be doing this.’ [But then I thought] ‘Oh, if I don’t want to do it, I need to say yes.’ I’ve never said yes faster to a project.”
In the drama, McCord stars as Eve, a churchgoing woman who carries out a mass shooting after making a deal with the devil. Though the nature of the film is “really heavy,” McCord admits she was inspired to participate in the film — which also stars Dean Cain and Natasha Henstridge — because it serves a bigger purpose.
“Right now, it’s going on in our world — we’re dealing with mass shootings,” McCord explains. “Films are supposed to be fun and entertaining, [but] we have to do relevant films to talk about these issues because these things are happening.”
As an actress, McCord had to look past forming her own opinions about Eve. “To play a villain, you cannot judge your character,” the Nip/Tuck actress shares. “Playing villains my entire career, I’ve learned one thing: They don’t exist. People do good things and bad things, and sometimes those bad things are horrible.”
Dealing with her own mental health struggles made McCord want to humanize her character for the audience. “That’s something that I care about deeply,” she tells Us. “I’ve dealt with suicidality. I’ve talked a lot about my mental health journey. I’m very open about it and I’ve got to bring light to it.”
Though portraying a woman committing a heinous crime wasn’t McCord’s easiest role to date — “It was really dark to be inside of her,” she admits — McCord was able to leave the character behind when cameras went down.
“Something really incredible has happened with my work as a result of all of the treatment I’ve been through and the healing modalities I’ve tried,” she shares. “And it’s that Eve is very much her own person — leave [her] at the door and go home.”
McCord hopes fans will look at Eve — who puts “blind faith into a belief system” — from a different perspective. “Even if you can’t like Eve or care about my character, you might understand her after this film,” she says. “You might understand how she got to that place.”
And she also hopes the film inspires a larger conversation about mental health. “We are talking about mental health in a much broader way than we ever have in any other era, but there’s so much more for us to really look into,” she tells Us. “It starts with questions and with building a relationship with yourself — Eve didn’t have that.”
“I hope it gets people talking,” she concludes.
Condition of Return is now in theaters, and available on Vudo and cable services to rent or own
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi