Netflix recently released the latest season of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman. Its premiere episode features Billie Eilish, someone I wouldn’t assume would have much in common with Letterman. However, the interview that follows is charming, insightful, and delves into a topic of conversation Eilish hasn’t discussed much publicly: her experience with Tourette’s syndrome.
During the interview, Eilish experiences a tic. (Tourette’s syndrome often manifests in compulsive, involuntary physical movements or vocalizations.) “If you film me for long enough, you’re going to see lots of tics,” Eilish says. When Letterman asks if it’s something she feels comfortable talking about, she says yes, but admits, “I haven’t talked [publicly] about it at all.” In 2018, after seeing a handful of viral video compilations in which she appears to be experiencing tics, Eilish confirmed that she has Tourette’s syndrome. She hasn’t gone into much detail about her diagnosis since.
“The most common way people react [to my tics] is they laugh because they think I’m trying to be funny,” she tells Letterman. “And I am always left incredibly offended by that.” She explains that she experiences tics frequently, like clicking her jaw or tensing her arm muscles. “These are things you would never notice if you were just having a conversation with me,” she continues, “but for me they’re very exhausting.”
Letterman apologizes for bringing attention to her tics, but Eilish says she’s happy to talk about it. “I actually really love answering questions about it because it’s very, very interesting,” she says, adding that even she doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of what causes her to tic. “What’s funny is so many people have it that you would never know,” she says before mentioning that she’s met other artists (who she doesn’t mention by name) who have been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. “It’s not like I like it, but I feel like it’s part of me,” she says. “Now, I’m pretty confident in it.”