Ryan Phillippe has spoken candidly about his lifelong struggle with depression, and how it has affected him both personally and professionally. In a new interview with Elle.com, Ryan opened up about his new role in miniseries Secrets and Lies – in which he plays a family man accused of murdering a young boy – and said he relates to the character because he himself feels "quietly tortured at times".
"You know, depression has been a huge obstacle for me ever since I was a child," the dad-of-three revealed. "As you get older I think it decreases some, but I'm just innately kind of a sad person. I'm empathetic and I take on the feelings of others, and transpose myself into the position of others."
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Ryan Phillippe has spoken candidly about his battle with depression
The Cruel Intentions star said that the heavy weight of sadness does have its value, however. "If it was a choice between being this way or being completely ignorant, I'd prefer to suffer through the sadness than to be a complete moron with no feelings," he said.
Ryan – who shares daughter Ava, 15, and son Deacon, 11, with ex-wife Reese Witherspoon, and a three-year-old daughter Kai with ex-girlfriend Alexis Knapp – added that his depression causes his sense of humour to be a "little darker than most".
"It's a dark humour, like a gallows humour," the 40-year-old said. "I think that's where, if you do carry any of that sadness or depression, your humour does tend to be a little darker than most people.
"And the greatest comedians do – trust me. I know so many of them. And they're depressed and they're dark and they have this incredible gift of humour to offer others and also, probably, therapeutically themselves."
Ryan Phillippe stars as Ben Crawford in the drama TV series Secrets and Lies
Secrets and Lies stars Ryan as Ben Crawford, who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a five-year-old boy after he discovers the body in the woods. He then goes in search of the real killer in order to clear his name in the investigation, led by a detective played by Juliette Lewis, but also exposes his own private life – including problems with his wife and two adolescent daughters.
"One of the things that made me decide that I wanted to take the job was how uncomfortable I felt reading about what the kids went through as a result of his being accused," Ryan recently told the New York Post.
"It was definitely something I related to, when you have children in public life and what that does to them and how perceptions about you in the press can have an effect on them."
He continued, "You really do get a glimpse of what I'm like as a dad even though I'm playing this other guy. It comes from a place of having real, true experience now from over 15 years as a dad. I think that is valuable to the show."