13 Reasons Why‘s Katherine Langford, who plays Hannah Baker on Netflix’s new show, has become the latest binge-worthy trend on the popular streaming service. The show, which deals with a high school student who commits suicide, tackles some very heavy issues — depression, bullying, and rape, to name a few. Katherine Langford, who had to endure some very tough scenes in 13 Reasons Why, explains what she had to do to cope with these moments, including going to a psychiatrist who deals with adolescents.
Warning: From this point onward, the article contains spoilers to the entire season of 13 Reasons Why.
The 13 Reasons Why Netflix series, based on a 2007 book by Jay Asher, consists of 13 episodes. It tells the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a 17-year-old high school student who commits suicide. Two weeks after her death, her friend Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) receives a package with 13 cassette tapes, in which Hannah explains the 13 reasons for her suicide — with Clay himself being one of those reasons. As the series progresses and Clay listens to the tapes, we find out about the abuse Hannah was going through before her death, including a rape on Episode 12.
13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford spoke with Entertainment Weekly and revealed that for her, the two most difficult scenes in the series were the rape on Episode 12 and the very graphic suicide scene on Episode 13. Katherine’s character, Hannah, is sexually harassed in school throughout the series. Then, at one point, she witnesses her drunk friend being raped at a party by a football player. Eventually, Hannah is raped as well by the same football player, who later claims “she wanted it.”
Being only 20-years-old herself, Katherine is very close in age to her 13 Reasons Why character, Hannah Baker — which made things even more difficult. As part of getting ready for her traumatic rape scene, she had to seek some outside counsel.
“I spoke to a psychiatrist who deals with adolescent development and there was a lot of conversation about why things happen in the way they happen, things like why Hannah doesn’t say no.
“There was a lot of discussion that went into that about how we were going to shoot it. When we did it, I felt super supported and absolutely comfortable on set, but it was very strange because that act makes me sick to my stomach. It’s so sickening and it’s uncomfortable and it’s ugly, but that’s also why we needed to show it.”
According to Katherine, she was pleased with the fact the rape scene was “told right” on 13 Reasons Why, when many other Hollywood movies and TV shows use rape merely as a plot device.
The second hardest scene Katherine Langford had to endure in 13 Reasons Why was her character’s bathtub suicide, shown in Episode 13 in a very graphic and uncompromising way. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Katherine says the hardest thing for her when shooting that scene was letting go of the character, saying goodbye to Hannah Baker after being her for months.
“When we shot that scene in particular, I had been playing her for six months and had gone through everything she had gone through up until the point, and I realized that this isn’t just a story about Hannah. This girl represents so many people. And this story belongs to everyone who is watching it. It is confrontational and it is ugly, and we needed to show that because we needed to show the truth.
“I was also at the point of having played this girl for 16 hours a day, six days a week for six months, and when episode 13 came around, doing that scene was hard for me because I had to let her go. I grew so close to her as a person, and she’s not just a character – this happens to people every day. I didn’t want to let her go.”
Getting those tricky scenes just right was important to Katherine — not just for herself but for the struggling girls out there.
“I took a pretty heavy hit physically and emotionally,” she adds, “But I wanted to make sure that I did the character justice. I know there are so many girls out there who are Hannah.”
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]