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Exclusive Interview: Amanda Seyfried for "Jennifer's Body"

By Paul Fischer Friday September 18th 2009 10:42AM
Amanda Seyfried for "Jennifer's Body"

Beautiful 23-year old Amanda Seyfried is riding a wave of success these days. Amanda Louise Seyfried grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She began modelling at 11 and took singing lessons until she was 17 – all in preparation for a career in the arts. Seyfried also started acting while she was attending William Allen High School.

In 2000, the budding star played Lucinda Marie on "As the World Turns, followed by a recurring appearance from 2002-03 as Joni Stafford on "All My Children". The actress also appeared on the cover of three of Francine Pascals books, the author of the bestselling teen series "Sweet Valley High".

Following her high school graduation, the actress enrolled at Fordham University in New York, but had to put her education on hold when she got cast as Karen Smith, the ditsy member of "the Plastics," in the 2004 hit high school comedy "Mean Girls," along with Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. Seyfried initially tried out for the roles Lohan (naïve Cady) and McAdams (queen bee Regina) played, yet there was something about taking on the loveable airhead role that made Seyfried a major standout in the film. "Mean Girls" became such a hit that Seyfried could have gone after lighthearted roles that were similar to the dumb blonde routine she nailed in the film.

Instead, she went after intricate, character-driven projects including a leading role in "Nine Lives" (2005), an interwoven story about nine women that also starred Robyn Wright Penn and Academy-Award winner Holly Hunter. After making appearances on the big screen, Seyfried returned to television, playing Lilly Kane – the title character’s murdered best friend – on "Veronica Mars". Guest appearances on "House", "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" kept Seyfried busy throughout 2006, yet she still had time in her schedule for "Big Love". In the hit HBO drama about polygamy, Seyfried blew critics and audiences away with her emotionally-charged performance as her polygamist father Bill Paxton’s eldest daughter, Sarah.

In 2007, Seyfried appeared in "Alpha Dog," a violent drama inspired by the true story of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. The film boasted a cast of Hollywood up-and-comers, including Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, and Justin Timberlake, along with veteran screen actors Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone.

That same year, it was announced that Seyfried was to star as Sophie, the lead role in "Mamma Mia!" a lavish film version of the long-running Broadway production, opposite Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan. The actress also appeared in the films "Boogie Woogie" (2008), and her latest films premiering at the Toronto Film Festival are the Diablo Cody-scripted horror film about teen angst, "Jennifer’s Body", in which she plays a girl with a crush on her best friend, manipulative cheerleader Jennifer who ends up being possessed and eats the men in her small town. Seyfried also stars opposite Julianne Moore in Atom Egoyan’s Chloe.

The actress discussed both films as well as that now infamous kiss she shares with Megan Fox, with PAUL FISCHER.

Question: What was your first impression of Jennifer’s Body when you read it? Is it a genre that you would normally be attracted to?

Seyfried: No. I mean, speaking of, like, a horror genre I’m not interested in doing horror movies at all. I haven’t actually read a horror movie that’s really good. Like, a script that actually makes me interested, except this one, but this one wasn’t so much horror as it was comedy. Diablo’s dialogue – the first couple pages, it was obvious that this was a good set-up. This was a good script, a well-thought-out story, but the synopsis was not so attractive. Cheerleader eats boys in a small town. And you’re like, "Oh, and Megan Fox is starring in it. All right. Well, I haven't seen her in anything but Transformers." and, I mean, I didn't really know much about her as an actress. So I was like, "Whatever." And then I read it, and I was thinking, "This character is super different. She’s realistic. She has a massive arc." And it’s more about her coming of age, her and Megan’s character coming of age, in a really, really exaggerated, funny, creepy way.

Question: Now there are two extremes of this character. The girl with the glasses, seeking acceptance, and the girl who we see at the beginning of the end of the movie, which we can't even talk about. How different was it for you? Which of those two character extremes was more challenging for you?

Seyfried: I think it was the more damaged, older version of Needy. Or, just the wiser version of Needy, was a bit more difficult to play, because it’s easier to play kind of naïve, and sweet. And for some reason, you know, it’s harder to – I don't know, turn it around and be the bad guy for once. And I was not necessarily being the bad guy, but having to do things that require – you know, some sort of – balls. I don't know why it was more difficult. I mean, at the time, I was just used to playing her in a specific way. And there’s only a little bit of the movie, where I’m actually – where you see what I grow into, really. And I didn't like to see her have a bit of evil in her, because I love the character. I think she’s the sweetest person, and she’s got a good heart. And she’s got a good – I mean, she’s clever. She is clever in certain ways, and she doesn't even realize and she kind of becomes tainted.

Question: There has to be an enormous amount of trust when you take on something like this, between you and the director, in terms of the film’s exploration of sexuality, as well. How reticent were you – I mean, do you think you would have done this had it been anybody other than Karyn? Or do you think you might have been a little bit more reluctant to take this on if it had been, let’s just say, a male director?

Seyfried: Yeah, I think I would have been more reluctant. I really do. When you meet Karyn, she’s very feminine. Very maternal, and protective of herself, and of people that she loves. And people that she is invested in, and the project as a whole. She knew exactly what she was going for. And she understood – you could tell right away, she understood exactly what Diablo was going for, as well. And it’s hard to get into the mind of a writer. But Diablo – I mean, but they were completely on the same page with it. And I didn't really – I wasn’t worried about anything.

Question: The vulnerability of these two characters comes to a head during the infamous kiss sequence in the movie. I was wondering, first of all, how difficult it was to do that in the way that Karyn wanted you to do it. And the concern that teenage boys, who inevitably are going to see this movie, will react to it in a way that might not be as appropriate as one would like. Or do you think about things like that, when you –

Seyfried: Yeah, absolutely. And before I even signed on for – like, when I really, truly signed my contract for this, I had issues with the way they were gonna market it. And I didn't feel it was gonna be appropriate to use it in the trailer. But they – you know, had ideas to use that scene in the trailer. And they didn't end up using it, which is fantastic. But of course, there’s so much buzz around it anyway, and people know that it exists. But I don't think people will want to see it because of that.

And that was the goal. I mean, that was what I was hoping would happen. And they totally marketed it correctly, in regards to the kiss. But I think it was difficult, still, to do, because just on one end, I was uncomfortable, because I like I kiss men. Even in front of people – to kiss someone for the first time, female or male, is still awkward. And then – also, with a female, I was worried that she would judge me. Or, it was just awkward, because we were kind of pals, and then we had to make out with each other. And it just – it was strange for me in that way. I mean, sometimes I have a good time making out with my co-stars, male co-stars, because it’s just – you know, easy and totally, completely not real.

So it’s just – I don't know, there’s just something – I’m more comfortable with it, because I’ve kissed boys before in my life. So it’s just more comfortable. I think why I felt so intimidated by Megan. I felt the same way with Julianne Moore, too. I just – it was harder to kiss a woman. I don't know why. It’s also awkward when you’re being filmed doing it, because it’s actually – you don’t want to be doing it. So. And then, of course, there’s still the producers that get to watch that scene every day, and you’re like – it’s inevitable, men are gonna get turned on. You know, people are gonna get turned on when they see this, because it’s – you know, taboo, whatever. But – I don't really think it turned out as bad as I thought. I think it was a little too long. It felt a little gratuitous by the end, but only a little bit.

Question: Now Big Love kind of really established you, in a way. How surprised are you that that show has led to that kind of success now?

Seyfried: I guess I’m not so surprised, because HBO and Showtime have this ability to make great TV and it almost feels like you’re watching a small movie every week, but – you know, based on the same – it just – it’s like a miniseries. And the writing’s so incredible. So, I kind of knew Big Love was gonna be good, and people were gonna like it. I wasn’t worried about that. But I played such a tiny character in the beginning.

And so it was a long, slow process, so I’m not shocked that I’m getting attention from my character on it, because I waited a while, and then – and I knew the writing was great for whoever they wrote for. And then when they started writing for me, I knew that they were gonna give me something good to do. And if I ended up doing it well, I could get some attention for it. And I have gotten a little bit of attention, and it’s nice, because I’m proud of the work that I put on it, that I did. Especially just last year and this year, I finally got to do some really good, good work on that.

Question: What’s the future of the character? Well, what do we expect?

Seyfried: Well, I mean, the season three ender was that I wanted to get married, because I’d had a miscarriage, and I realized that I loved my boyfriend. And it’s hard for a young girl to feel like she needs – that there’s only one person that she’s ever gonna love. And it’s almost like she’s insecure, so she needs to just – you know, go off with this man, because she’s given herself to him. And it’s a kind of closed-off life. She hasn’t really been open to the world. She doesn't have any experience. And she’s smart, but I just feel like she doesn't know what she’s doing which is interesting. A young girl growing up in a strange, strange community, that no one really knows about, because it’s so under wraps. And so disturbing, that lifestyle. And seeing how somebody can grow up with that, and feel like their mother’s betrayed them, but also love their mother so much. And then also fall in love with the women that her father’s chosen. It’s just – she’s got such a bizarre thing. She’s in a weird situation. They all are. And they’re all dealing with it in a different way. And you can see the love between all the characters in the family, because they’ve build a family. But at the same time, resentment. All these emotions. And they can do so much. And they are, they’re doing really cool stuff.

Question: This also led to Mamma Mia, which was such a huge, ridiculously phenomenal success. And now there’s a rumor that they’re gonna try and do a sequel, which I don't know if that’s true.

Seyfried: I don't think that’s correct. I don't think it’s accurate. Because, you know, I don’t see the point in trying to top something. I mean, maybe if – if they had a really good idea for a story, but I don't think they would do it to top the first one. I mean, it’s a good movie. It’s an original piece. It’s something that was really popular on Broadway. It’s a great soundtrack. I mean, it’s a good, family-friendly movie. And every – two-year-olds sing Abba.

Question: How freeing was it for you to do that movie because, I mean, it’s such a pure fantasy film?

Seyfried: I was never directed to smile less, so it was like – it’s not – it’s not hard to absorb what your character’s going through, especially when you’re jumping around and singing, and being excited about life.

Question: And love.

Seyfried: And love. And it’s like, as cheesy as it can be. It’s also so uplifting, and so wonderfully positive, and so absolutely needed in this world right now. And so I’m so proud to have been a part of it. And it’s like – it’s an ongoing success. It’s really ridiculous. I get so much fan mail from two-to-five-year-old girls. And boys. And they send me pictures of drawings of me in my wedding dress.

Question: Now you have a lot of stuff coming out that I that I’ve been reading about, or that you’re working on. What are you the most excited about?

Seyfried: Chloe.

Question: Why?

Seyfried: Because it was super fun. I mean, it’s twisted. It’s the type of movie I like to go and watch. I don’t go to the movies to see romantic comedies, or horror movies, but I like to work on them. But I also like to work on twisted indie films, where – you know, you don’t have to listen to a studio. And you kind of – whatever the director really wants, goes. And Atom Egoyan happens to be a genius took a script that he didn't even write this time, a brilliant script, made it into exactly what it was supposed to be as a movie with Ivan Reitman, and Jason Reitman. Like, such a crazy way of making a small, small movie. And the budget wasn’t even that small, but it was – it was – it’s the type of low – kind of twisted, low-key independent movie, that I like to see and be in. And also, the character is so – so complex. And there’s so much going on. So much more, even. We’re talking about a young, damaged prostitute – high-class prostitute in Toronto, this day and age. And it’s just – and the relationship between an older woman and her. Not even a man. An older woman. It’s a great thriller.

Question: Did you have to do a lot of research on this?

Seyfried: No. I didn't talk to prostitutes. But Atom did. And – you know, I think – I wanted to make this my own type of character. Obviously, it probably would have been great had I met some, but I don't think it made that much of a difference, because Atom had exactly in his mind what he needed from me. So I like to be directed more than – it’s always good to do your own research. I happen to be a little bit lazy, when it comes to certain things, which I shouldn't be. I’m trying to learn not to be. But – I trusted Atom in every single – I mean, we talked ridiculous amount of hours about the character, and what she’s going through. Every time we had lunch or dinner, it was only about my character. It wasn’t about anything else. We wouldn't talk about – too much about our families, or – until halfway through the movie, when we were on a roll, but I’m telling you, it’s the most fulfilling piece of work that I’ve ever done. I feel like a real actress. I’m not saying a real good actress, or a real bad actress. But I feel like a real actress.

Question: And what are you doing next, do you know?

Seyfried: I’m in the middle of Big Love until Christmas. So next time I have free is in January, and I’m hoping something will come along in February, as I have a break, or something.

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