One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Linda Lovelace pic Lovelace. The film stars Amanda Seyfried as the titular porn star who rose to prominence following 1972’s Deep Throat (the first pornographic feature film to be a mainstream success). Lovelace would eventually go on to claim that her husband (played by Peter Sarsgaard) physically and verbally abused her and coerced her into the pornography business. The film also stars Juno Temple, Wes Bently, Sharon Stone, Hank Azaria, Adam Brody, and James Franco as Hugh Hefner.
The day after the premiere, I sat down with Amanda Seyfried for an exclusive interview. We talked about how she got involved in the project, how the film shows both sides of the story, whether or not she was nervous to play Lovelace, her Sundance experience, the incredible supporting cast, the success of Les Miserables, future projects, and a lot more. Hit the jump what she had to say.
If you’d like to listen to the interview, click here. Otherwise the transcript is below.
How are you doing today?
Amanda Seyfried: I’m OK, how are you?
I’m good; I just saw your movie this morning at the Eccles.
Seyfried: OK, I was there.
I thought it was really, really well done. I didn’t know what I was getting going in. I wasn’t sure where the story was going or…
Seyfried: They tricked you.
They didn’t trick me.
Seyfried: They kind of do, they tricked me.
Oh really, so they told you originally it was something else and then…
Seyfried: No, but you forget…when I first saw the rough cut of it, I forgot that it was not linear and when they kept going with the story I was like, “They cut out that? They cut out that? Oh my god, what is this movie?” And then I remembered that they slice it in, they kind of like throw the discs in when you’re not expecting it and show you what really happened and I didn’t realize that.
I think that’s one of the really cool parts of this movie is that it shows you this- when you’re watching it you’re like it’s this great thing and everyone is happy, but then the smoke and mirrors, you can see through the facade and you get to what really the story is.
Talk a little bit about how much you knew about the story prior to being approached for the material.
Seyfried: She was famous being able to deep throat really well and she was a porn star, just another porn star to me. I remember the first time I met with Rob [Epstein] and Jeff [Freidman] they showed me this massive book, this massive collection of research and photographs, and they had all these DVDs of footage, and I was just blown away because of course everybody has a story, everybody is three dimensional . I found it fascinating that the idea of her, it’s all very much a general idea of who she is based on the fact that she was a porn star. But she wasn’t really a porn star, she wanted to be an actress and she had a really intense, violent relationship with her husband and her husband essentially just coerced her into this world and she was exploited and she was left with essentially nothing. I think that’s an amazing- I think that’s not what people expect to hear at all. She tried so hard to be heard and I felt like that’s part of the reason I wanted to make this. It was a weird era. It was the sexual revolution and porn was not what it is today. It’s all a very interesting story and I think it is really well done. You give the audience that idea, you validate their general idea of her, and then you slide in the reality.
When you were approached for this role was it an immediate yes?
Oh really? There was no hesitation in terms of… you know what I mean?
Seyfried: Yeah. There would have been hesitation had it been some other director. Had it been a poorly written script I wouldn’t have done it. The script was perfect and the directors were already attached and that was all I needed. There are a lot of scripts that you can like, but rarely are there directors attached when you’re in development with something and that’s stressful. I’m looking for a director right now to film a movie that I want to do this summer and it’s really stressful because you can’t make the movie until you have one and then you can’t even think about casting. So that was a package that was already put together and after I met them with their whole bag of tricks I was like, “I feel safe. I feel like this is going to be very quality. I don’t know who’s going to see it, I don’t know what’s going to happen when it comes out, but I know I will have an incredible personal experience making this movie.”
When did you find out you were coming to Sundance?
Seyfried: I found out I think in October. No, I guess it was definite in December when I was doing Les Mis press but I think I kind of had an inkling in early November, late October and I was so happy because to premiere at Sundance is a big deal, I mean, to get into Sundance is hard. It’s a great community of filmmakers, it has a nice community feel and I think it’s a safe place to premiere a movie like this.
The thing that also struck me about the film was that the supporting cast was-
Seyfried: [Laughs] I can’t believe from one scene to the next you have these amazing- like Lisa Gay Hamilton, everything is nuanced you see her and she’s rereading what he wrote for the book she’s like, “and a rock-like muscle tore into her,” and he’s like, “Linda, what do you think?” and I’m like, “It’s good.” And you just see this look from Lisa, so subtle. These actors are- I can’t even believe that they came into this movie the way they did. I mean Chris Noth, I mean, what? He doesn’t play those roles; he’s amazing in every second, he’s amazing. Adam Brody showed up to play Harry Reems, which is really hard, I think. It’s a caricature of a guy and its hard sometimes, you don’t want to go too far with it and you want to make him happy, he’s alive, he lives in Salt Lake City. Oh my god, I can’t even believe- like Hank Azaria he’s trying to explain to Peter or Chuck why I’m not right to be in the porn industry, why I’m not a good actress; everything is nuanced and you don’t get that sometimes. I did a movie with a lot of supporting cast and it missed the dynamic, it missed the… I don’t know, everybody brought something insane and I’m so lucky.
You’re fantastic in the role and Peter’s fantastic in the role, but it really is like a football team where you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
I do think that really added to why I felt the movie was so good.
Seyfried: Eric Roberts, I mean, what? He’s taking the polygraph test and everything’s just… he’s real, everything is real, and it’s not real at all. I look for this authenticity in every movie and I’m like, “Oh my god, I believe that so much.” And when I saw the movie for the first time I’m like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m in this movie with these people.”
You’ve clearly won the actor’s lottery in terms of the parts that you get to do.
When did you first realize, “wait a minute, I think I have the winning ticket. I think I have something here,” was there a moment or a film?
Seyfried: Les Mis.
That was when you finally realized you might have the winning ticket?
Seyfried: Yeah because, not a winning ticket, but just that I’m in something so unique and so special that the excitement and the pride behind that lasts a lifetime. So this is just even better, it’s a really good moment for me. We just won a Golden Globe!
I would agree with you.
Seyfried: Yeah, it is. And it is a period of ups and downs, trust me, I’ve been doing this since I was seventeen, so ten years now I’ve been making films and I feel like that’s a long enough time to say that I’ve been in it for a while and it’s never going to up all the time. So I understand that there’s going to be a fall at some point, but I’ll get back up. I’m excited about this. Les Mis, I worked my ass off to get that and I got the call from Tom Hooper on the 22nd, we were on our third day of shooting, just before Christmas, to break for Christmas on Lovelace, and I got the call and I was so happy. And I also knew that Les Mis was going to be pushed anyway so I could do both. I mean, I was already in Lovelace so they were just trying to work out scheduling. I worked my ass off for four months to get this movie, and I did so many auditions, I did six auditions. I flew to London twice from LA just to audition. I wanted this role more than anything in the world because I’m obsessed with Les Mis, and I got it.
I was going to say, what does it mean for you? Because I’ve seen the crowds at the Odeon in London, it’s like, huge box office.
Seyfried: It means everything.
Because it could have easily not done well.
Seyfried: No, it was always going to do well. That’s what I believe. That’s what I’m saying, that’s when I knew I got the winning ticket; I knew it was going to do well. I don’t know why. I think it’s because everybody I know is obsessed with Les Mis. All the actors I know are obsessed with Les Mis, so many people I know have seen it. It’s a phenomenon. It’s a drama musical. Its three hours long. It’s like, “What? Why? French Revolution? Ok, boring.” But once you see it, you’re entranced because the music is amazing, the characters are amazing. Listen, I’m very biased. Obviously, if you didn’t like it, I totally get it.
No, I thought it was great.
Seyfried: Oh, good. Ok, good.
I was in New York for the press stuff.
Seyfried: Ok, yeah. I knew that when I got it I’m like, “This is the best Christmas gift ever,” and then it came out to a huge box-office opening, and I thought, “No, this is the best Christmas gift ever.”
I got to tell you though, I spoke to Eric Fellner and Tom; Eric told me that the first cut was over four hours and Tom told me that he has an assembly cut that was way longer and that if the crowd demanded it that he would maybe try to go in and try to do an extended cut, but it would mean re-orchestrating.
Seyfried: Yeah, it’s so hard.
Seyfried: I didn’t.
Is that something that you would want?
So you’re super happy with it exactly the way it is?
I always like deleted scenes, personally.
Seyfried: You do?
Yeah, well especially with something like that, if there’s extra stuff that might…you know what I mean.
Seyfried: Yeah, I don’t even know which deleted scenes. I just…I really got the jackpot on that.
Seyfried: Yes, there are a few films. There are two films I’d really like to do, one is a comedy; a broad, beautifully written comedy and I would to be part of it, but I haven’t gotten the offer because…there’s some competition. It’s fine though, I love competition, it’s fun. And there’s a movie, I’ll just go on record saying Steve Gaghan wrote; I’m just desperate to work with that guy.
I have a feeling you’re going to land on your feet either way. I’m very confident.
Seyfried: Thank you for your confidence, I really appreciate it. Honestly, either way I’m super happy and I have stuff to promote so maybe I’ll just do that this year. I know that I’ll work on something this year that I really believe in, because I’m not going to do something I don’t anymore.
Click here for all our Sundance 2013 coverage.