Fresh from cooing her way into our hearts in the holiday hit “Les Miserables,” Amanda Seyfried arrived in Park City Tuesday night with “Lovelace,” a project that couldn’t be more different from Tom Hooper’s earnest, Oscar-nominated musical.
In the biopic, helmed by “HOWL” duo Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Seyfried tackles her most challenging role to date as Linda Lovelace, the pornographic movie legend and star of “Deep Throat.” A hard-core cultural sensation, Lovelace led an abused and troubled life at the hands of her husband and manager Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard).
Indiewire sat down with Seyfried the morning following the film’s world premiere at the Eccles Theatre (where the film was swiftly acquired by Harvey Weinstein’s new hybrid label RADiUS-TWC) to discuss this new stage in her career, why she still looks back on “Mean Girls” as her best work and the nudity required to play Lovelace.
Was last night your first time seeing “Lovelace?”
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Second. I got to prepare myself for an audience. I just can’t imagine seeing that for the first time last night. It was everybody’s first time except me.
Was this a tough film to watch?
No, it was just the critical aspects. I’m very critical of myself. I didn’t have a hard time watching it at all. From another angle, I think it’s fun to see something that you worked so hard on put together. It’s nice to see something come together in a really good way.
What was going through your head after world premiering what in my mind is your most high-profile role to date to a Sundance audience?
It’s exciting. It’s so exciting. You don’t really think too much, you just kind of revel in the moment of it. This is just so fresh. You walk on stage and people had just watched it, so you kind of get a real reaction. It’s never that genuine after that. People start processing it. I felt really accepted and supported by everybody. I don’t know if they’re really supportive or they aren’t, but I felt that way.
I know that I’m proud of a lot of it. Certain things I’d like to reshoot but can’t. But I am proud of certain parts of it from an acting point of view. And therefore, I’m not going to roll my eyes and be like, ‘Oh thanks,’ because I really believe in this movie. It’s so nice to believe in something and really love something you’re about to promote.
Did last night feel like the start of a new chapter in your career?
Yeah, it did. Especially after Harvey [Weinstein] bought it. He doesn’t buy stuff he doesn’t like. I like his taste. The fact that he’s supporting it now is big for us. When he gets behind something it’s one hundred percent. I really respect that about him.
It does feel like a new stage because it is a high-profile role and I did work my ass off. I also had the best experience of my life. It was very intimate; it was very dark. It was surreal at times. I got to experience amazing things in a small amount of time with amazing people. I’m an actor. I love acting. Hopefully I’ll get to do it for the rest of my life. There’s nothing else I feel like I’m good at. I’m on a cloud right now.
Do you ever think back to your breakout turn in “Mean Girls,” and go, “Wow, I can’t believe how far I’ve come?”
Oh yeah, always! It’s been such a slow move for me. And I’m really lucky because I got to experience each thing as it came, as opposed to being bombarded with all this attention. It’s always been slow. People say, “Oh, breakout star overnight,” to these actors of my generation. It must be hard to get all that attention and know what’s real at the end of the day. And luckily a lot of them do and they’re real people… I can call them my peers and I’m super proud.
Also, I’ve just worked a long time. I’ve gotten a lot of cool opportunities here and there and I’ve made some good choices with the help of my amazing team. I was with them since I was 16. It all feels right; it feels good. I still look back at “Mean Girls” as my best work.
Yeah. I was so innocent. I was so green. I look back and I’m like, ‘Really, I thought I was doing a terrible job.’ But it was written so well and so wonderfully directed. Mark Waters (the director) made me look good; he made me funny. And Tina Fey wrote the coolest script of all time. I’m so grateful for every experience.And of course working with someone like Hugh Jackman [on “Les Miserables”], you’re like, ‘I want to be like that guy.’ He literally is grateful for every single opportunity. He’s grateful for every interview he does. He’s grateful for every platform he has to speak about something. I mean, holy… this guy is Buddha! I want to be that grateful. I have such a privilege of being in the public eye. I can use it for good instead of using it for evil. I’ve just been around, so it feels good to finally get to this point at this age because I don’t think I could have done it a couple years ago. Everything happens in good time.
Did doing good in the public eye make you want to play Linda Lovelace?
Yes (laughs). I mean, this woman so desperately wanted to be heard. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody makes bad decisions. The facts are she was domestically abused — there was just plain old domestic violence in her relationship. There was also a lot of psychological abuse and rape. It was just this terrible relationship. I think she wanted people to understand why she got sucked in, and why it happened and how she was feeling. She’s famous for being famous now and people have this one idea of her. It’s just nice to set the story straight, or at least from her point of view, give her a voice.
There’s nothing ok about domestic violence. Thankfully she wrote these books about it. Things have changed so much since the ‘80s. There’s so much awareness. I read the statistics. This was October 2012: 25 percent of women are abused in their lifetimes, I think in the U.S., by their spouse of partner. I mean, it’s crazy, but at the same time there’s so much awareness. She helped. She did! She was also a porn activist. She did some good stuff. She really did. She tried really hard.
I was really down with being her voice and having that responsibility. It was really daunting and really scary. I really wanted her children to like the portrayal of their mother. And they do! I just got an email from one of them this morning. It feels really good.
During the Q&A last night, you said that reenacting the “Deep Throat” scenes and getting physical with Peter were the most difficult aspects of the job. You paid no mention to the nudity, which no doubt surprised many in the audience.
I don’t know why I’m comfortable. Nudity: whatever! Sex: we all do it. There’s a time and a place to be naked (laughs). There’s no part in this movie that makes me think, ‘Oh, wow, she’s naked.’ She’s a porn star! We simulated some scenes but there’s no graphic content in this movie, at all. I mean the graphic stuff is when he’s raping me on my wedding night. You see my skirt go up over my head when I’m being gang raped, but it’s like so perfectly done. “Chloe” is so graphic. And this is not.
Did you find “Chloe” gratuitous?
No, no way! Atom [Egoyan] can do whatever he wants.
I personally love that film.
I fucking love it too.
Critics were pretty harsh to it.
It’s a psychological thriller. Some people like them and some don’t. I think it was a big turning point for me as an actor, personally. I put a lot into that movie. I love Julianne Moore. I love Peter Sarsgaard. Why am I so lucky?
On top of getting extremely physical, you get quite intimate with Peter in “Lovelace.” How did you go about gaining each other’s trust?
Both of us are not shy about our private parts. We also weren’t walking around with our genitals out; our bottom half genitals. That might have been a little strange for me. I don’t really have any interest in people seeing my vagina. It’s just a personal thing. I don’t mind seeing other people’s vaginas. I guess I’m just insecure in that way. Peter… same thing. He was always covered up in that way. I think it’s just our mutual understanding of we needed to be naked a lot of points in the movie and it wasn’t a big deal. It’s like a costume.
I don’t know why I feel comfortable. To be honest, when I was younger, I was terrified of sex. I don’t know what happened over the years. I now have an appreciation for it, for people who don’t put so much heaviness on it.
Did “Lovelace” play a part in that?
No, I was already at that point (laughs).