09/08/2014 12:22 pm ET Updated Sep 08, 2014

Ellen Burstyn's 'Bizarre' Decade: An Oscar For Her, Mental Institutions For Her Husband

The '70s were an undoubtedly fruitful decade for actress Ellen Burstyn, filled with critical accolades and Oscar nominations (and a win for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore"). But behind closed doors, the "Exorcist" and "Last Picture Show" star was experiencing drama of a very different kind, tending to her husband Neal Burstyn as he spiraled into the depths of mental illness.

Burstyn discussed the tumultuous period during an interview with HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri about her new film "Draft Day" and her upcoming directorial debut "Bathing Flo."

"It was a weird time because my work is important to me. It's what I do well in life. I feel like I came in with that gift, and I feel some responsibility to developing a gift that I was given, so I've studied hard and I've worked hard and I love my work," she said. "But at the same time all of that was happening, I was going through a difficult time with my husband, who was schizophrenic and psychotic. So I was spending a lot of time in and out of mental institutions with him. It was both a wonderful time and a difficult time."

Burstyn, then 40, kept much of her personal life private at the time, only disclosing these hardships in her 2007 memoir Lessons in Becoming Myself. According to her book, Burstyn's husband stalked her for six years following their 1972 divorce, and, at one point, broke into her home and proceeded to rape her. In 1978, he committed suicide.

"It was bizarre," she recalled. "It was pretty strange, because my personal life was so traumatic and my public life was so fortunate that it was a strange contrast to be able to juggle."

Watch the rest of Ellen Burstyn's conversation with HuffPost Live here.

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