From author Gillian Flynn, showrunner Marti Noxon and director Jean-Marc Vallée, HBO’s eight-episode limited drama series Sharp Objects follows what happens when Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) returns to her small hometown to cover the murders of two pre-teen girls. Trying to understand the crimes puts her in the direct path of her own past and forces her into the line of fire of her disapproving mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) and her impetuous 15-year-old half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen).
While at the HBO portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, Collider got the opportunity to chat 1-on-1 with 19-year-old Aussie actress Eliza Scanlen about her audition process, getting the opportunity to play such a nuanced and complex character, being starstruck to work with this level of talent, in front of and behind the camera, the biggest challenges in playing Amma, how supportive everyone was of each other, during this shoot, her desire to keep doing projects in the States, and shooting her next project, later this year.
Collider: I’ve seen seven of the eight episodes of Sharp Objects and you really do such tremendous work in this. It must be so much fun, as an actor, to get that big of a range of emotions, in one character.
ELIZA SCANLEN: Definitely! Especially with Amma being so young, I feel like it’s not often that you come across characters who are so nuanced, at such a young age. So, it was really nice being able to bring Amma to life. (Author) Gillian [Flynn] has a large following, so it’s nice to see that the reaction has been positive.
It’s interesting because she’s a character that has a certain level of immaturity and a certain level of maturity, at the same time, and she acts differently, depending on who she’s around?
SCANLEN: It’s almost as though she chooses to be immature. It’s almost like she decides to control her personality, as needed, depending on the person that she’s communicating with, which is something that I never really noticed that much when I was playing it. But when you see it on screen, it’s such a different experience.
This is a pretty big project that’s gotten a lot of attention. Did you know that, when you started the journey with it?
SCANLEN: Yeah. I loved Amy Adams, beforehand, and Jean-Marc [Vallée], with Dallas Buyers Club, but I don’t think anyone could have expected the reception it’s gotten. It’s been really cool. I remember when I was shooting it, I was just so focused on getting through it. We never really thought about what would happen after. We didn’t expect it to be this big, at all. And for me to be in involved in the marketing of the show, that’s something that I’m very grateful for, as well.
Are you glad that you finished shooting it all before everyone got to see it?
SCANLEN: When it finished, I was so relieved. One of the biggest challenges about Amma was deciding what side of her character that she was going to play. Exploring her, as a character, was interesting, as an actor, but at the same time, it confused me. Amma confuses me, so trying to decide how I was going to go about the scene was difficult sometimes because there are just so many different versions of the truth with Amma. None of them are necessarily untrue, and she reveals different parts of her identity, depending on the person, so the part was difficult to decide on. She still baffles me. I don’t know how I got through it. I was just a crazy lady, shooting it.