Lovelace - Amanda Seyfried interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
AMANDA Seyfried talks about some of the challenges of playing porn legend turned women’s rights campaigner Linda Lovelace in a new biopic of her life.
She also reflects on her own career and why she doesn’t always get afforded the opportunites to challenge herself as an actress that she craves, and why she has had her own fair share of unsuccessful relationships. She was speaking at a UK press conference….
Q. How big a challenge was this role for you?
Amanda Seyfried: I feel like there aren’t a lot of opportunities for someone my age. I think I can still consider myself a young actress… so, to play somebody really fascinating, there aren’t a lot of biopics for someone my age. So, this opportunity… I was a bit hesitant but man, I mean, if I could disappear into any role this was the one to do. And I would like for people to not say: “Boy, this is such a departure for you.” I would like for people to get used to me playing lots of different things in lots of different genres because that’s acting.
Q. Has that been a frustration for you up to this point?
Amanda Seyfried: Yeah, I just don’t get the opportunity. A lot of the people in the industry, unfortunately, see me doing one thing. And it’s partly my fault. I never dye my hair and I’m always kind of playing a version of myself, which is really fun and satisfying in a way. There are certain roles over the years that I’ve seen go directly to certain actresses, and I think: “God, that would have been such a good challenge. That would have been such a stretch for me.” I want to stretch. But there aren’t many opportunities.
Q. Can you, as an actress, now see things and know about things and go for them?
Amanda Seyfried: Absolutely. If you’re in the know… my agent tells me everything that’s going on. Everything percolates, sometimes over years, and she’s always got her eye and ear on the ball, in terms of those really great roles. And then when it comes time to casting, even if a director has a list of favourites, I’ll still be able to get in and meet the person, or read for the person. I audition still, a lot. I auditioned for Les Miserables six times.
Q. What did you have to do for this?
Amanda Seyfried: Nothing. Kate Hudson got pregnant. And I think it went directly to me, I guess. Which was great. I was kind of hesitant at first anyway, because of the subject matter. Hollywood can be tough on younger actresses, you know, there’s the taboo that comes with sex and porn. I didn’t want to ruin my future possibilities. But as soon as I met the directors I felt confident that they’d make something really good out of it.
Q. What knowledge did you have of Linda before this?
Amanda Seyfried: I knew Linda represented a movement. I knew Linda was a ’70s porn star. She was a household name for whatever reason. I had heard of her, and I was born in 1985. Why had I heard of her? I don’t know. But somewhere along the way, in my youth, I’d heard about this woman and I think I knew just as much as most people knew about her… or know about her before they see this movie. I don’t think a lot of people read her book, especially these days when people don’t seem to really care. But that’s why we make these movies, to say: “Look at what’s happening during this time. Look at this woman and how much she represented the so-called sexual revolution, and how much she represented sexual freedom for women.” And really she didn’t reflect who she was at all.
Q. Can you talk about the film structure – it’s a story of two halves… Amanda Seyfried: I met her kids, and I think that was the moment for me when it really hit home what I was potentially doing for her, for Linda. She got to tell her story only so much. People only listened to a point, so that responsibility was crazy. I feel like when you’re playing somebody that exists you have to step into their shoes as much as you can. And I had a lot of access to her life, so it was intense. I felt like a stalker at points. And when I met her kids I felt like I was doing something wrong, or I felt uncomfortable the fact that I was embodying their mother at a time in her life they’d like to forget about. It’s such a weird dynamic, but because of all that I lived [through] her and I had a hard time letting it go at the end. I understood her struggle, you have to empathise with your character.
Even Peter Sarsgaard said… how does he play a monster? Well, he just has to try to find a way to relate to this guy. What he says is he just pictures his character as a child, as a baby, before he becomes this malicious man. In his innocent years. And I think that’s how I had to see Linda, because people were pretty cynical about her, a lot of people didn’t believe her, and all this other stuff. I’m pretty cynical and I was able to jump in fully. That’s scary, but it also makes me like I finally did some acting, [after] always playing myself.
Q. What did her kids think?
Amanda Seyfried: They saw it before Sundance, the directors screened it for them, and they said they could show it to their partners and “they can finally understand what our mother was like”. I was like: “Wow, really?” That’s all I needed then. They had a good relationship with her, they really loved their mother. She did something right, she definitely caught a break in having two wonderful kids.
Q. Is it true that you chose not to watch Deep Throat beforehand?
Amanda Seyfried: I think it was just I wasn’t ever going to watch it, that wasn’t my intention, because I didn’t think it was important. I had actually seen all the scenes… I think we re-enacted two or three scenes from Deep Throat, and I watched those scenes, that didn’t show anything graphic. Just so I could imitate her. I actually just turned on the movie, and watched it for about 10 or 15 minutes. It’s just really boring. A lot of people ask me if I did any research and watched porn and got to know porn stars, but that was not really what the story’s about. The directors did, because they were interested in going up to [visit] a production company which makes porn for women and is made by women. That’s interesting, but certainly not the research that I needed to do. There was a lot of other stuff that I needed to tackle first.
Q. How comfortable were you with the film’s sex scenes?
Amanda Seyfried: You know it wasn’t really something I thought twice about. I did a film called Chloe, and that was pretty graphic compared to this. This seems like a piece of cake. And I think the scenes that I was doing in Lovelace with Peter… I felt really comfortable with Peter and I trusted him. What really was hard to tackle were the violent scenes. Everything is choreographed – the sex scenes, being raped, it’s all choreographed, but it’s much harder to grasp being manhandled in that way. Violence is very prevalent in our world, and knowing that she was going through, that is very hard to – emotionally – swallow. But the sex stuff is not a big deal to me. I really do forget that there’s any nudity in the movie, because the scenes where I am naked it’s not really about the nudity, it’s about the conversation going on during it. It’s interesting.
Q. Do you find typecasting gets frustrating for you?
Amanda Seyfried: I wanted to do A Dangerous Method but he [David Cronenberg], the director, just didn’t see anybody else for it. I did audition for The Great Gatsby… a bunch of us did. We all wanted it. But she’s great [Carey Mulligan] in it. I love that movie. I look at roles like Temple Grandin [the TV movie about a pioneer in autistic therapy] and I think this just doesn’t come around very often. I wasn’t up for it, and I don’t think I would have been better for it than Claire Danes… oh God, she was amazing. But that kind of stuff is the stuff that I just covet, because you can sink your teeth into it and it is something that is a challenge, and your real responsibility is portraying somebody who exists. Especially Temple Grandin, who’s still alive. It’s just amazing. Biopics are so attractive.
Q. Is there a different approach to them?
Amanda Seyfried: Yeah, I mean you have so much to work with. Normally, I’m just given a script. If I’m playing a role, I’ll be like: “These lines are great, I know what my relationship is to all the other characters, and I know what my motive is.” That’s the only preparation I do. With this, I actually get to read and dive into it, and feel for her and empathise. And watch her and then imitate her. It’s such a different… it almost feels like a completely different thing, like a different medium. It’s so fun, but it is so hard at times, because you’re like: “Am I even doing this right?” That’s why everybody’s flocking to these biopics. I haven’t seen Liberace [Behind The Candelabra] yet, I need to see that.
Q. In the film, Linda falls for the wrong guy – how do you relate to that?
Amanda Seyfried: Oh God, I’ve dated my share of the wrong people. More so than Linda, certainly. I think are you grow up, go through your formative years especially, you’re attracted to different things. And you fall for things and people that may not be good for you, but they’re good for right now. You learn from it. Every relationship you’re in you learn from it. I’m not the kind of person that just gets married to someone I’m dating. She kind of fell in with Chuck, fell in love with him and they got married. But they got married because wives can’t testify against their husbands in court. She didn’t realise that’s why she was getting married. But… what a monster. I also think it was so easy for her to run into his arms, because she was running away from something.
Q. Did you have a preconception of who and what Linda was going into the film, and did that change through the making of it?
Amanda Seyfried: Oh yeah. I saw her in the beginning as someone who was super naive, and came from a tough place and wasn’t able to stand up for herself. She was that kind of person, but so was I at a point in my life. I love this woman now, it’s weird. I love her. I wish that she were here to have a conversation about it. But before, yeah, I would probably have been a cynic had this project not come into my hands. And that’s not fair, because you can’t judge somebody based on what society’s been projecting over the past 40 years. Everybody’s three dimensional. I’m objectified – people probably judge me all the time because I put myself out there, but they don’t know who I am. They don’t know how I really feel, and it’s funny because I feel this need to prove to people that I’m a real person all the time, and I forget to be private, so I will say a little too much. Which is, I guess, fine as long as I’m not putting too much out there. She had the same need, she was like: “You guys don’t understand who I am.” And she finally had to speak up. But not for long.
Q. Would you like to have been able to portray more of Linda’s later years, which were just as dramatic?
Amanda Seyfried: We did tackle it a little bit, there was a lot of stuff that was cut.
Q. Will there be a Director’s Cut?
Amanda Seyfried: Probably, there usually is. The directors are confident in their decision to cut all of that stuff out, because you can’t make just one movie it would have to be a mini-series of her life. That was another approach, we could have approached it that way. I would have been more than thrilled had this been a mini-series because I wasn’t ready to let the character go and I fucking love my cast. And my directors. There was even talk of setting up with HBO or something, doing something, a follow up for that channel. I would love to do that, because there’s a lot… she was a complete anti-porn crusader. You’re right, colourful…. she walked down that path and it’s pretty interesting. She married another guy in the business, and Chuck Traynor married Marilyn Chambers and I think that would be interesting to explore, but mainly just the fact that she became a feminist and denounced porn completely, when she went on her book tour. You saw so little of it and there was so much more that we had shot. She was a pretty important voice in speaking out against domestic violence, but we didn’t have the time. It’s like 93 minutes long. It was stick to one thing and tell it right… that’s really what they were coming down to in the end.
Lovelace is released in UK cinemas on Friday, August 23, 2013