The toughest part of playing Hannah Baker on the first season of “13 Reasons Why” wasn’t the heavy source material or how far she had to go for the role of a suicidal high schooler, according to show star Katherine Langford.
The young actress highlighted her last scene — the one in the bathtub — for Hannah in episode 13 as being one of the toughest things she had to do on set, but “not because of the reasons you probably think it is,” she told TheWrap.
Netflix received considerable criticism for the scene, which some parents, educators and health care professionals felt glorified her death by suicide.
The streaming service added an extra trigger warning at the start of the episode in response to the blowback. The scene is tough to watch for a lot of reasons — specifically having to do with the graphic nature of Hannah’s suicide — but for the actress herself it was a different experience.
“At that point I had been playing her for six months and I had to let her go,” said Langford, an Australian who moved to Los Angeles to shoot the 13-episode series in her first major Hollywood role.
She said she had gotten sick the night before they shot the bathtub scene so not only did she feel sad having to play Hannah for the last time, but she also had a cold.
“I was sick and I had to let her go and I was crying in my trailer, because I’m like, ‘I don’t want to let her go,’” she said.
But there were plenty of happy moments for Langford on set as well. For example, the Perth native got to experience an American high school for the first time. Specifically, she got to learn some American sports etiquette.
In one scene, Hannah and Clay (Dylan Minnette) attend a basketball game and cheer on the home team. Cheering in Australia, according to Langford, requires a lot more annunciation and zest.
You can see in the video above how Langford does it.
“[Director Tom McCarthy] was just like, ‘Cut. It’s just, “Go, tigers,”‘ and I was like ‘OK.’ That was pretty embarrassing.”