Ex-EastEnders star Michelle Ryan, who played Zoe Slater, has revealed that she asked to be written out of the show for several months so she could recover from depression.
In 2002, the star was at the centre of media gossip about her weight and was struggling to cope with the death of her grandfather.
She told WENN: “People were saying I looked too big on screen and commenting if I put on the slightest amount of weight. I felt terrible. I was at an age when I was still trying to come to terms with my body.”
Michelle added that she was a perfectionist and put huge pressure on herself to perform well, but ultimately found it draining.
The star found fame as Zoe, whose most dramatic storyline saw her discover that her sister, Kat, was actually her mother.
She eventually left the soap after five years in 2005 to pursue other projects.
Since then, she has appeared in ITV1 period drama Mansfield Park, and BBC One thriller Jekyll.
Her big-screen career has also taken off recently. She has recorded roles in Brit flick I Want Candy and forthcoming Welsh release Flick, starring Faye Dunaway.
But it’s in the US where Michelle has had her biggest break, landing the leading role in a remake of classic Seventies series The Bionic Woman.