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Dear John - Amanda Seyfried interview

Amanda Seyfried in Dear John

Interview by Rob Carnevale

AMANDA Seyfried talks about appearing in romantic drama Dear John, talking Abba with director Lasse Hallstrom and the fine (and forgotten) art of letter writing. She also explains why she feels defensive towards her character…

Q. With an unashamedly romantic comedy it’s all about getting the tone right so you don’t slide into melodrama, isn’t it?
Amanda Seyfried: Lasse [Hallstrom, the director] is allergic to melodrama so he likes to do it very subtly. It’s the same with me and Channing – we tend to play things very low-key and subtle so we didn’t have to try very hard to stay away from melodrama.

Q. Had you read the book by Nicholas Sparks?
Amanda Seyfried: I hadn’t read it but I did know Savannah was a bit different in the book. She’s a little more timid and less relatable, a little too perfect. But if something has been done before or if it’s been adapted from something or from another movie I won’t go there, I won’t venture into that because I don’t want it to absorb itself into me. I want it to be my own thing.

Q. The film gives life to the lost art of letter writing. When was the last time you wrote a letter?
Amanda Seyfried: I wrote a letter three years ago in response to a letter that I found finally at Christmas-time in my childhood bedroom. I don’t know how it got there but it was the most beautiful letter. In a previous relationship we wrote letters [to each other]. We didn’t live far from each other but we wrote letters from time to time. I keep that letter for good luck and to inspire me because it’s an expression of love, and that’s an art form.

Q. Was it your first time in South Carolina and what did you like about it?
Amanda Seyfried: It was the first time I’d ever been in Charleston and I loved it because it was the first time I’d been able to love my work and have a great time with everybody because they all loved being there. There’s an energy in Charleston that doesn’t exist in the north or the west. The people were amazing and beautiful… it’s old, it’s very historic. I dream about it, there’s still a house there I’d love to buy someday and fix up. If life were ever fantastic, that was it. Life in Charleston is a dream and you cannot have a life like that anywhere else. And it’s romantic. That’s why it’s so amazing being in a period movie because there’s a romance about it that doesn’t exist now.

Q. Some people might say Savannah acts quite unfairly towards John… What would you say? Would you feel the need to defend her?
Amanda Seyfried: I absolutely feel the need to defend what she does [in terms of marrying for the sake of a child] because I would do the same thing. Judging from long conversations I’d had with people who have children, basically your life is so much more when a child is brought into it. You would do anything for them and that’s what Savannah does. I think that she honestly felt she didn’t have a choice.

The choice was between a child and John and that’s not really a choice. She was selfless that she sacrificed this crazy love. I’m not saying if you’re fighting all the time and it’s a horrible marriage you should stay together for the kid, but you should always think of the kid first. Savannah was thinking clearly and it was important for her to marry this guy in order to make sure the kid was going to be fine when his dad passed. It’s very simple and I don’t think anyone should be confused by it. When she gets mad at John for leaving her again she comes to a point where it’s like ‘Alright I get it, you have to do the job, it sucks but I’m willing to hold on’, then something unexpected happens and you can’t blame her for what she does. I totally get it.

Q. How was it working with Richard Jenkins?
Amanda Seyfried: [Laughs] He’s not that good. Everyone thinks he’s really good but… Just kidding. No, he’s amazing.

Q. What’s the weirdest piece of fan mail you’ve had?
Amanda Seyfried: People have written weird stuff, but my mum does all my fan mail so she goes through it and she’s very efficient. It feels like team homework because she gives me stuff to sign and Fed-Exes it out. She loves it. She’s like: “You got 14 pieces of mail today!”

Q. You just got an award for SoWest Breakthrough Female Star Of The Year at Las Vegas, which seems a bit odd a couple of years after Mamma Mia!
Amanda Seyfried: [Laughs] What did I actually break through anyway? I really don’t understand what it is, although I heard a rumour it was really just for publicity. Apparently, someone might have paid them to give me that award. I don’t know if it’s true or not and I’d like them to clarify it, but I guess it’s still nice.

Q. You do have a lot of films coming out one after the other, so you must be keeping busy?
Amanda Seyfried: I was busy but they were done one after the other. Dear John was shot in 2008, Chloe was shot in 2009 and Letters To Juliet was shot at the end of 2009 so it was all pretty much in the span of a year. I’m not working at the moment. This whole year has been press, which is kind of a bummer. I love talking about the films but not doing just that. I’d rather be on a set.

Q. You and Lasse share an Abba connection. Did that ever manifest itself on set?
Amanda Seyfried: Did it ever! He asked me in all seriousness to re-enact an Abba movie for publicity for the movie. I considered it. I said: “Maybe I’ll write something and we can do it retro style…” But I never wrote a song and I never tried to write a song [for the movie]. But we had such a good time. He’s very playful and he loves ducks – not even live ducks but wooden ducks. He collects wooden ducks and he actually gave me one for my birthday.

Read our interview with Channing Tatum