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Sia Was ‘Suicidal’ and ‘Went to Rehab’ After ‘Music’ Backlash: Kathy Griffin ‘Saved My Life’

The fierce backlash to Sia's feature directorial debut, about an a non-verbal autistic teen, left the singer reeling.

Sia at arrivals for Kourtney Kardashian Hosts The Marquee Dayclub Season Preview, Marquee Dayclub, Las Vegas, NV March 21, 2015. Photo By: James Atoa/Everett Collection

Photo By: James Atoa/Everett Collection

Kathy Griffin is a lifesaver, according to Sia.

The singer-songwriter praised the comedian in a New York Times profile on the “Search Party” star, citing that Griffin was there for her in an unprecedented time of need.

“I was suicidal and relapsed and went to rehab,” Sia reflected on the criticism in early 2021 following the release of her controversial film, “Music.” “She saved my life.” The musician said that Griffin helped her back to life after inviting her to dinner at a restaurant in Hollywood back in November, where Griffin knew they’d be seen by paparazzi to build better buzz for the pop star.

“Music,” which Sia wrote and directed, starred neurotypical actress and dancer Maddie Ziegler, whom Sia has frequently collaborated with on her pop hits. Ziegler portrayed the titular nonverbal autistic teen Music Gamble. Members of the autism community called for representative casting and found fault in the offensive portrayal of autism in the film. “Music” landed two 2021 Golden Globe nominations but was widely excoriated by the press and audiences.

In another New York Times story from February 2021 upon the film’s release, stars on the autism spectrum cited specific concerns about “Music.” Actress Chloé Hayden noted that Ziegler’s performance was “undermining autistic people’s capabilities and making us out to be infants,” before adding that the film set was not inclusive, which “completely belittles the entire point” of the film.

Sia defended the casting of Ziegler in an interview with Australia’s 10 News First (via Yahoo! Entertainment) that the character was based on her real-life friend. “I made this movie with nothing but love for him and his mother,” Sia noted.

Later, the “Chandelier” singer announced that the release of “Music” would include a warning accompanying the film: “‘Music’ in no way condones or recommends the use of restraint on autistic people. There are autistic occupational therapists that specialize in sensory processing who can be consulted to explain safe ways to provide proprioceptive, deep-pressure feedback to help with meltdown safety.”

Sia tweeted at the time, “I promise [I] have been listening.” The singer/songwriter turned filmmaker previously became defensive on social media prior to the film’s release over accusations of misrepresenting the autistic community. Sia said that she originally cast an actress on the spectrum in the role of Music, but she found it “unpleasant and stressful” and so she recast the role with Ziegler.

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