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Selma Blair opens up about losing her mom in 2020: 'She wouldn't go to a doctor'

TODAY logo TODAY 10/23/2021 Francesca Gariano

Selma Blair lost her mother, Molly Cooke, last May during the pandemic after she passed away at age 82.

The actor's late mother, through stories and anecdotes told throughout her new discovery+ documentary “Introducing, Selma Blair,” becomes a character in her own right. The film documented Blair's 2019 stem cell transplant that she underwent in order to help heal from her multiple sclerosis.

The 49-year-old actor opened up to Variety in a recent interview where she discussed the film as well as Cooke. When asked what Blair wanted the audience to know about her mother, she said, “So tricky, because she’s such a private person.”

“You know, she became a judge so that people couldn’t mess with her credibility,” the “Cruel Intentions” actor explained. “She’d been messed with in her life. And she’s my person, I love her so much. Of course she left in COVID. It was so painful.”

Blair revealed that her mother had cancer, but was unaware of her diagnosis.

“She wouldn’t go to a doctor,” she said. “You know, she was so proud. And mistrusting of doctors, for good reason. And so it was hard to even show in the movie that little bit talking on the phone, because her brain was going. And she would have been horrified to have been revealed to not be on her game.”

She continued, adding, “There was no message in it, other than I was a person that still wanted her mom.”

“When she did die so suddenly — I mean, I don’t know if she died of COVID, I don’t know if she died of the cancer, which was going to get her in months anyhow,” Blair said. “She didn’t have Alzheimer’s. She didn’t have dementia. She did not have a pickled brain. She enjoyed her cocktails. And that was a fear, like oh mom’s just pickled. But she wasn’t, it was cancer and she was brave and wonderful.”

Blair recalled when her mother died early on in the pandemic and the restrictions for loved ones were set in place, explaining, “Like so many people, I couldn’t be there to make her beautiful for when the coroner came.”


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“That was my greatest feeling of failure as a daughter,” she revealed. “To protect her from any judgment.”

The actor later revealed that her mother had passed away when she was at home and “wasn’t feeling well.” She said that she had begun to cough and took a nap.

“Her caretakers called my sister Mimi and said, ‘I think your mom is gone,’” Blair said. “Yeah, it’s a grief for me.”

The documentary, which debuted in select theaters on Friday, Oct. 15 and began streaming on Oct. 21, put Blair’s raw emotions and physical struggles on display for viewers. The actor was diagnosed in August 2018 with the condition, sharing her diagnosis publicly two months later.

This past April, she recalled the moment where she realized that she might be facing a health issue before her official diagnosis. In February 2018, she had appeared in a fashion show for Christian Siriano and noticed that she wasn’t able to feel her leg after experiencing similar issues before that she didn’t consider serious.

The actor previously opened up about her stem cell transplant and chemotherapy back in October 2019, taking the stage at the TIME 100 Health Summit in New York City. She said that her body didn’t initially respond to the disease-modifying treatment, explaining that she felt “out of options” before she eventually underwent chemotherapy. Months before the full treatment, Blair had a micro dose of chemotherapy that made her immediately feel relief from her symptoms, which ultimately helped convince her to carry on.

© Sonia Moskowitz

Blair’s candid nature about her diagnosis throughout the years to shine a light on the condition continued through the documentary, with the actor saying during the film, “I spent so long trying to kill myself or numb myself or check out or figure out how to be alive by being half dead, and now I just want to help other people feel better.”

Blair is also ready to handle questions or challenges from others, despite the inappropriate nature of many of these queries.

"Even with me, it was debilitating for me emotionally," she told Variety when asked about questions surrounding her condition. "When people would say, 'Oh, no cane day?' Some days I wear my braces, some days I don’t. It depends where I have to go. I don’t need to apologize for it. I don’t need to justify to people. But I’m perfectly willing to explain."

"I am. I’m a talkie. I’m fine being a bridge for people with some chronic thing or a neurological difference. But, yeah, it is unnerving. Bossy f-king people!"

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