The Crowded Room Stars Discuss That Major Twist

Now that the secret is out, The Crowded Room stars Amanda Seyfried and Sasha Lane speak about the show's approach to mental health.

Sasha Lane and Tom Holland in The Crowded Room
Photo: Apple TV+

This article contains spoilers for The Crowded Room through episode 7.

The last two episodes of Apple TV+’s psychological thriller, The Crowded Room, have thrown everything audiences thought they knew about Danny Sullivan and his story into question. The limited series follows Danny (Tom Holland), a man who is arrested following his involvement in a shooting in New York City in 1979.

Den of Geek had the opportunity to speak with Amanda Seyfried and Sasha Lane about the big revelations in episodes six and seven, how their characters fit into the story, the themes of mental health, and more. 

In episode six, we find out that Rya is actually a psychologist and her conversations with Danny have been therapy sessions. She has come to the conclusion that Danny has Multiple Personality Disorder, which is currently known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Soon after, it is also revealed that Ariana Atkinson, who is played by Lane, is actually one of Danny’s alters.

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“It’s important that we don’t see that in the beginning because we want to know that this person, this character is someone who’s there to help Danny, maybe the only person who really kind of believes that he’s got a story to tell that’s worthwhile and believes she could get the truth out of him,” Seyfried explains about the value of presenting the plot this way. “I think it’s important that by the time you realize what she does in her life and her career, that she’s a psychologist, I think you’re already convinced that these two have created a really kind of beautiful, deep bond. You actually really trust Rya by then. I think that’s why it’s good that we wait a little while to get to know her.”

The actress continues to point out that the two characters “need each other” and that’s why the storytelling works so well here. 

“She’s the person who makes it possible for him to finally try to start unpacking everything that happened. We all need somebody to see us and believe in us in order for us to feel safe in the world.”

The series will no doubt start more conversations on mental health and Seyfried has her own hopes on what that will lead to for those watching. 

“I hope people continue the conversation about the fact that just because someone behaves a little differently, doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with them, relate to them, or even care about them. People are so afraid of ‘otherness,’ which is so crazy because when it comes to mental illness and mental health, we’re all on a spectrum of trauma,” she voices. “I truly believe that every child has had traumas because anything that happens to you as a child, you can’t process the same way we would as an adult in a more healthier perspective.”

Seyfried then described how this was shown through Holland’s character, adding, “Danny’s trauma is extreme and his body took care of him in a way that was what it needed to do in order to survive. That’s what happens, we know this now. It’s 2023, we have a lot of information and it is still something that feels very stigmatized, even though it’s more present in all of us than anything else.” 

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Additionally, Lane gave her thoughts, commenting that it was definitely part of the reason she got involved in the project. 

“I have a lot of empathy for that realm and I’m always so curious as well, you know? I think this show is so much more focused on the actual healing process and recovery in the fact of what trauma does to you when you experience it as a childhood is a part of shaping who you are as an adult and through adolescence,” the actress expresses. “It doesn’t confine who you are and that everyone just has so many different versions and experiences with it that two people could literally have gone through almost the exact same thing and how they move forward with that can be the complete opposite.”

In episode seven, we find out that characters we have met along the way are not who they seem. Ariana, Yitzhak Safdie, Jonny Wilson, Mike and Jack Lamb are all Danny’s alters. So how did Lane approach that major character challenge? 

“There were a lot of moments between me, (showrunner) Akiva (Goldsmith), and (executive producer) Kornél (Mundruczó) here it’s like, ‘but is she doing this as an alter?’ It was really confusing, to be honest, of how to feel like your own person and make your own decisions, but then also realize that you can’t pick up a cup with your left hand if he’s eating with his left hand, you know? So, how do you switch that?”

With such heavy topics, it’s hard not to reflect on our own mental health and how we treat others who might be struggling. There are a lot of different, valuable messages that viewers can take away from Danny and apply to our own lives. 

“I think it gave me even more a sense of … like an extra boost of compassion for people really just trying, you know?” Lane says. “I always felt that I had that and I tried to give myself that but everyone is so different and how we handle things is so different and everyone, even if they say they don’t want to get better or still trying to get better and if they say they want to get better, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be quick and in a hurry and right away. Even I think sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotten over that, I’ve healed through that,’ and then I find myself being like, ‘No, you’re just so good at saying that,’ so maybe dive a little bit deeper.” 

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New episodes of The Crowded Room will premiere weekly, Fridays on Apple TV+.