On my way to the While We’re Young press day to talk to Amanda Seyfried I checked my Timehop app and it told me that exactly five years ago to the day, I ran my very first interview with her for the movie Chloe. That certainly made for a sobering reminder of how long I’ve been at it, but perhaps it’s kind of appropriate to walk into an interview for a movie like this with that in mind. The film stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a happy couple who suddenly realize that something is missing. Their best friends are gearing up to have a baby, but instead of supporting them, they become infatuated with a younger couple, Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Seyfried). They’re fun-loving, easy going, and Josh and Cornelia find their care-free lifestyle invigorating.
During my interview with Seyfried on her experience making the movie, we discussed what it’s like working with writer-director Noah Baumbach, which couple she could relate to more, the incredibly detailed production design for Jamie and Darby’s apartment, shooting the Ayahuasca ceremony scene and loads more. You can catch all of that and a few details about her Ted 2 character in the interview below. While We’re Young hits select theaters on March 27th and then opens nationwide on April 10th.
Question: Can you tell me about getting involved in this one? Do you get offered a role like this or is there an audition process?
AMANDA SEYFRIED: No, I auditioned. [Noah] used to live a block away from me in LA, I have a house there by Runyon, and I think I auditioned. I was on tape with the casting director. It’s like a process. And then I went to see Noah and then I did it with him and he kind of directed me through it and then he gave it to me. I just didn’t think I was gonna get it. He’s an important guy, he has a very specific voice and I really like his stuff and I like when thing are raw. I don’t like when things are sugar coated. I like the way he articulates himself and the world we live in, and our interpersonal relationships. He just has a good eye and of course I wanted to be a part of something with him.
What happens when you get the role and meet with him before shooting? Does he like to go into backstory, discuss how your character met Jamie and things like that?
SEYFRIED: Yeah, a little bit. I think we had a good little story going on. God, I don’t remember exactly how it was. Fuck. We did a lot of rehearsals. He likes to see how things are blocked. He likes to block things ahead of time, which is always really helpful for the actor – for a lot of actors that I know, I can’t speak for all of them. We all want to know what’s going on and I think we get the general sense of things when we put it in space. The space is so important, like going to the actual apartment and seeing how we feel in the space and the vibe of it, you know, it’s a character on its own and he’s interested in that. It was fun.
SEYFRIED: How the fuck do we live there? I know, I know. That’s one thing, somebody’s got to have a rich parent. I know, it’s an amazing apartment. But it is ramshackle and it’s a loft and it’s not done at all. If you really spend time in it, the kitchen is a mess. It’s just the sheer space of it that doesn’t make sense, but I think it’s also something that was probably passed down. They’ve got some foot in the door somewhere.
That’s actually a fair point. A rent controlled apartment someone gave to them.
SEYFRIED: Yeah, or an aunt who doesn’t live there anymore. Who knows, who knows? But they have a chicken.
They do have a chicken. They have a chicken and they have kittens, which made me very excited. Why aren’t the kittens in more of this movie?
SEYFRIED: [Sighs] Why isn’t more of my dance in this movie? It’s not about me, I know! It’s not about Darby. But I spent a lot of time on that dance.
How did Finn feel when you came home smelling of kittens?
SEYFRIED: Oh, he doesn’t mind. I mean, he’s not a fan of cats. The cats that he knows don’t like him.
SEYFRIED: Oh, hell yeah! You should see my desk. I don’t think it was ever – maybe it was once, no – I don’t think it was ever featured. I went through the drawers, notebooks and stuff, drawing and paintings, it was serious. I mean, that whole place, there was just so much to look at, the kitchen, so many dishes, so many things in the fridge. It was nuts.
Did you get to take anything home?
That’s a shame.
SEYFRIED: But I ate a lot of ice cream.
They’re serving it in the press room.
SEYFRIED: They are?
SEYFRIED: Good to know.
Can you tell me about working with Adam? Before he started coming out in movies, I just always looked at him and thought, ‘Oh, it’s Adam from Girls’. Did you have any preconceptions about him?
SEYFRIED: No, I haven’t really watch Girls. I did see an episode four times, one episode that was always on. It’s the one where Allison Williams and Chris Abbott are in the café and they break up and then they’re outside and she says, ‘I wanna have your little babies.’ I forget exactly what she said. ‘I wanna have your little brown babies,’ or something. I just remember seeing that scene four times and there’s a scene on the subway – anyway, Adam. He’s an interesting guy. Someone mentioned to me today, they’re like, ‘Yeah, he seems really extroverted and funny.’ He’s not. He’s introverted I think – I think. He seems pretty shy and he’s not a man of many words, but man, he’s so in the zone when you’re working with him, it’s great. He’s funny, the funny little things that he does and he’s kind of unpredictable and I love that.
Did you have instant chemistry with him?
SEYFRIED: I think so.
What happens if you don’t have that with an on-screen significant other?
SEYFRIED: I don’t know. I’ve never had that experience. I’ve never had that experience, it’s weird. People are cool. I think people want to work with other good people and I’ve never had to do anything with someone that was a dick, which is great. I think chemistry comes from really respecting someone, really liking them, enjoying their company and respecting what they do and where they come from and getting along and having things in common. I think that’s where chemistry comes from. Sexual chemistry? I can’t, I don’t know. It’s hard for that to grow over a couple of weeks, you know? It’s all very manufactured settings. It’s not as easy as it seems, as the young people make it seem, as I used to make it seem.
How was it being part of this ensemble? Did you have to adhere to anyone else’s processes or did you all fall into step with each other?
SEYFRIED: It was pretty easy. I keep thinking about that Chinese restaurant, two blocks from my apartment, actually. It was so nice. It was just like fun, really easy. It was just chill, everything was very chill, hanging out, seeing where the scene goes, doing it over and over and over again.
Noah likes to do a lot of takes, doesn’t he?
SEYFRIED: Yeah, it wasn’t that bad in this movie. I heard about him, and it wasn’t so bad. One day we were all stuck in the car together and that got a little bit much because I kept having to pee and there was nowhere to pee and we were all just tired and Naomi was sitting in the middle, there was Dree [Hemingway], and Ben and Adam were in the front. But the Chinese restaurant was really great because it was just the four of us. The dynamic was really nice.
SEYFRIED: Oh, hell no. Yeah, I can handle fake vomit thankfully. I didn’t think I could, but yeah, I would never do that shit. It’s so stupid. Not stupid, not judging it. Just, I’m very afraid of vomiting so I just wouldn’t do it, but it’s funny to pretend that you’re kind of under the influence of something that you don’t know at all.
Can you relate to the character much, here? Even though I’m closer in age to Darby and Jamie, I could still relate to Josh and Cornelia too because some of my friends are having babies. Do you connect to one couple more than the other?
SEYFRIED: Same. I more relate to Naomi and Ben. I still feel like I’m trying to catch up with technology and I’m not as ambitious as Jamie, I think. They’re such go-getters and that’s just not how I’m wired, and I have a lot of worries that they don’t. It’d be nice to not worry so much because worry is just a useless way to live. I just, I can’t relate. I don’t have a record collection because I don’t have a record player. I’m not so, I don’t know, what’s the word I’m looking for? Deliberate, I’m not so deliberate about things.
Walking around thinking everything is free for the taking is pretty appealing though. Jamie doesn’t put the idea to use in the best way, but it is somewhat inspiring.
SEYFRIED: He has a point, fair game. Information age. But yeah, I don’t know. He’s missing a step. He’s missing a chip, I think, and maybe that’s what makes him so good at what he does, but not so honorable. Better to be honorable and go about it a different way, maybe you lose out a little bit, but it just seems like the right thing to do.
Did you guys ever come up with other things like this that he’s pulled in the past?
SEYFRIED: Oh, no. Thanks for making me feel like a terrible actor! I’m kidding. No, I’m sure he has though. God, is he not here today?
It kind of just crossed my mind that he’s probably done stuff like that before.
SEYFRIED: Oh, I’m sure. Yeah, you’re right, I’m sure he’s looked for other people to kind of – what’s it called? Fishbowl? What’s it called?
SEYFRIED: Catfish. I’m sure he’s like into catfishing. I’m sure he would be good at it.
Before we have to wrap up, I wanted to ask you about Ted 2. I imagine it must have been a very different experience working with Seth on that compared to A Million Ways to Die in the West.
SEYFRIED: It wasn’t that different. Except the only thing that was different was that Seth was in his normal clothes and not his Albert clothes, and he was a little less stressed – and I’m saying a little less stressed because he gets really stressed. It was more fun. I had the best time working on that movie. It’s so weird, I don’t do huge, big studio movies very often. I prefer doing independent movies. The paycheck is not great on either, so that’s never a factor, but the studio trusts him and there was so little pressure and so much time to shoot, it was like, it was great.
How about your character? We know she’s a lawyer from the trailer, but what’s she like on a more personal level?
SEYFRIED: She’s a stoner. She’s not like, super, super serious. She did go to law school. She does have her degree. It’s a law family, she’s from a law family so she just knew that’s what she was gonna do. She likes to help people. She’s on the good side of the law. She’s not that ambitious. [Laughs] She wants to have a job, she works at her uncle’s firm, which is great, but nobody takes her seriously – not just because of her age, I think it’s also probably because she’s a woman. It’s just interesting the way it comes about. They have this case, it’s about equal rights. I think it’s very timely. He’s very timely. Seth is always making a point. Maybe not every episode of Family Guy – and by the way, he hasn’t written for Family Guy in five years, from what I’ve heard. But, you know, he has a voice and it’s like an assessment on where we’re at these days with equal rights and what is just, so it’s good. I hope a lot of people see it. I hope as many people see it as the first one. It’s the same, you know, poop jokes and dirty, dirty, dirty humor, but there’s a classiness to it that, I don’t know, I don’t think was as evident in the first one and I think it’s definitely different. It’s got more of a story. It’s really f*cked up though. Still, I mean it’s Ted. How do you get people to see a movie? You’ve gotta have potty humor, that’s what it is, isn’t it?