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AMANDA SEYFRIED - GROUNDED

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AMANDA SEYFRIED - GROUNDED

By Jack Wellington

Amanda Seyfried, born December 3, 1985, broke into acting on the soap opera “As the World Turns.” At the age of 18, she landed the classic film Mean Girls. Seyfried followed the success of Mean Girls with a supporting role in HBO’s “Big Love,” which ran from 2006-2011. Seyfried film career really started to blossom with the films Jennifer’s Body, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables and the risqué, edgy and critically acclaimed films Chloe and Lovelace where she appeared fully nude in love scenes with both men and women.

Seyfried has continued to take on a steady number of film roles including The Last Word, First Reformed, Gringo, and the sequel to Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.

In 2016, she began dating actor Thomas Sadoski, her co-star in The Last Word. The couple married in March 2017 and later that same month, Seyfried gave birth to their first child, a baby girl. STRIPLV sat down with Seyfried a couple of times for this interview, and we found her beautiful, charming, warm and down to earth.

STRIPLV: You seem to enjoy playing a wide variety of roles. Is that your preference?

SEYFRIED: It’s hard to plan things, but I try to avoid playing the same kinds of women because then people tend to perceive you as only one kind of character and of course that’s the worst thing that can happen to you. So you wait for the right part to come along, and lately, I feel I’ve been very lucky and been able to work on many different kinds of stories. But I still think I have my best work ahead of me, and as I get older, I feel I’m going to be able to play more and more complex and interesting characters. That’s my goal.

STRIPLV: How is important is it for you to have an eclectic professional life?

SEYFRIED: Diversity you mean? It’s essential. I have to keep jumping from one to the next because I would be bored if it were consistently one thing.

STRIPLV: You’ve shown yourself to be pretty versatile regarding the roles you’ve been playing whether as Linda Lovelace or singing in Les Miserables or doing a comedy-drama like While We’re Young. Do you like to keep mixing things up?

SEYFRIED: It’s not always by choice. You have to be careful about the kinds of projects you choose because it’s a very competitive business and you need to keep having a certain level of success if you want to keep working and have the chance to find the best roles. I don’t think I’ve found anywhere near as many good roles as I’ve wanted to play. I feel like I haven’t accomplished what I’m capable of in terms of finding a great dramatic part where I can one day look back on and feel very proud of. But I’m going to get there.

STRIPLV: What kinds of films do you prefer doing?

SEYFRIED: My preference is more for indie movies, especially dramas, but I’ve also loved being part of films like Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables and TED 2. It’s so important to me that I am able to enjoy working with wonderful people and appreciating every moment of my time. I love acting and performing and being part of the creative process. When you are part of a film where you feel that a lot of talented people are all contributing and part of this collective artistic effort. There’s nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than that.

STRIPLV: Do you feel your anxiety issues are behind you?

SEYFRIED: I’m a lot better than I used to be and it’s something I’ve been working on the past few years. It took me a while to stop denying it or just trying to live with it. I finally saw that I needed to address my anxiety and stage fright more directly and that’s been the best thing I could have done for myself. I’m able to enjoy my life much more now although I still worry about things that I shouldn’t worry about. But I also have good friends and a great family who give me a lot of love and support. Going on stage has been a big test for me because when you perform in a play and go out in front of an audience every night, there are no escaping things. I was worried about having a panic attack on stage, and then my dad came up to New York to spend some time with me, and he helped calm me down. He would listen to me tell him about how scared I was about going on stage and ruining the play. Then he would ask me whether any of my fears and anxieties had ever come true and I would say, “No.” And it was that kind of discussion and reassurance that made a big difference to me, and I think I know now that I can do another play down the road and have a lot less anxiety about the process.

STRIPLV: Some people might be surprised that you suffer from stage fright when you’ve played a lot of risky roles like Chloe or Les Miserables or going on stage. You’ve never had a problem with appearing naked in some of your performances, for example?

SEYFRIED: I’m very comfortable with my body, and I guess I have a more European kind of sensibility. Nudity has never been a problem for me and if you’re doing a love or sex scene that’s just the natural way of being and people should find that beautiful. I’ve never felt embarrassed by sex scenes and sometimes I wish I could feel as comfortable and relaxed about things in general and be more fearless in everyday life. But it’s always been in my nature to overthink things, and I’m learning to just be more in the moment and have fun.

STRIPLV: Does playing in a film like Fathers and Daughters or getting up on stage in a very emotionally charged play like The Way We Get By help you deal with your own problems?

SEYFRIED: There is a cathartic and therapeutic side to the work. When you’re thinking about your character and trying to understand their way of thinking and perspective on their life, you start to compare it to your own way of handling things.

I’m usually very honest and hard on myself, and I like being very straightforward and open in my relationships with other people, so when I’m working it’s interesting to explore your character’s psychology and understand why some people behave the way they do and try to make sense of that. I also try to speak to my friends a lot because I think getting good advice and emotional support is a  healthy and beneficial thing.

STRIPLV: Well, when it comes to it, you’ve done so many things, and you started very young at 11. How do you choose the roles that you decide to go and work? Is it the cast, the script, the director?

SEYFRIED: The director is essential. The director has to have a really good vision and also, I kind of feel like things choose me, as well. At this point in my career I feel like if there’s an opportunity, and it has all of the right pieces, such as a good cast or if it doesn’t have a cast yet, but it has a really good director with a good vision and focus and a good story, then it’s probably something I’ll do. But I also look for; I’m just, I really want to do a comedy. I really liked filming Gringo. I did a comedy a few years back with Seth McFarlane and Charlize (Theron) A Million Ways to Die in the West, and it was really fun, and there’s not enough for me. I need more comedy in my life.

STRIPLV: What was your experience like working with Noah Baumbach on his 

SEYFRIED: Noah has a very interesting and specific way of looking at relationships and the personal connections between people. He’s so perceptive, and he has this very realistic and raw way of presenting his characters and making sure that the dialogue is very natural and not stylized the way you normally hear actors speak in Hollywood films. It was kind of intense, and I just thrived on getting into working with Adam (Driver, her co-star) and appreciating the way Noah tries to develop the story. We actually once lived a few blocks away from each other in L.A., so it was so great that he thought about me we finally got a chance to work together.

STRIPLV: You have a passion for stuffed animals and taxidermy?

SEYFRIED: My sister Jennifer and I are obsessed with that. We have this morbid fascination with things. We love animals, living and dead. I even have a stuffed horse, Antoine. We also collect heads of old dolls. I like to give things a chance for a second life. My mother spends a lot of time in the attic trying to figure out where to put all the stuff that we accumulate. Mom will send me text messages asking for permission to throw out something: postcards, photos of Julie Christie. I’m a hoarder. I always keep everything. I guess I’m very sentimental and I have a tough time letting go of things which have certain memories for me.

STRIPLV: When did you decide you wanted to be an actor and why at such a young age did you decide to use narration or to act as a way of expressing yourself?

SEYFRIED: I don’t think that I decided to, I guess I always was a performer of sorts in an annoying way to my family, and I think that I was young, and I wanted to model, and it was all very glamorous at 11. I was singing, and I felt that acting, too, would be fun. I was sent on auditions by a modeling agency and it kind of felt right, and now I am still doing it. I think that it’s the only thing that I can do. I was on “As The World Turns.” Probably 13, 14. It was that point where I made the decision with all my heart that that was what I wanted to do, but I had no expectation it would happen. And let’s be clear, it was about becoming an actor, like not “a star.” I didn’t want that. So many actors do, and there’s a difference between who I am and the type of person some other actors are, who know they were going to be a star from a young age. That comes with expectation, whereas I was always more realistic and practical.

STRIPLV: But you are a star now. Is it a bad thing?

SEYFRIED: I don’t think I’ll ever be a persona, which is a lucky position to be in. I don’t think the public will ever get to know me that way, and I don’t want them to because they stop believing in the characters you play, and I’ve fought too long to get to this place.

STRIPLV: Do you feel like you weren’t taken seriously in her early twenties as an actress?

SEYFRIED: Of course, I was totally pigeonholed as the dumb blonde after Mean Girls, and there were opportunities there but not as many now. It’s not a new story, so many go through it, but it’s different now.

STRIPLV: Mean Girls kicked off the dumb blonde associations, did you ever regret it?

SEYFRIED: No, not at all. Mean Girls was amazing for me. It gave me so much. It was my first movie, and it’s was hard because now, technically, I know what I’m doing, as an actor. I know what’s asked of me and what I have to do. I know I have the freedom to try different things. On that, I was so stiff, but I had the most fun because I was on set with Lindsay and Tina and Lacey. “This is amazing I’m on a movie set.” I was 18; I had no clue what to do with my life. It was either Mean Girls or college, so it gave me direction.

STRIPLV: You took opera classes when you were growing up before turning to acting. Was acting something you knew was a great creative outlet for you?

SEYFRIED: I knew that acting was this strange and interesting way for me to get rid of tension and negative energy. Acting was a great help to me that way, although that’s not why I wanted to do it. When I started acting, I knew instinctively that it was something I would always enjoy and that I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life.

STRIPLV: How did you find the experience of starting out in Hollywood? 

SEYFRIED: I worked hard, and I had some early success, but I was dealing with a lot of anxieties and insecurities when I was starting to get a lot of work. I was afraid of disappointing people, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Even now I still worry about not being at my best when I’m starting to work on a new film but then that feeling goes away, and I can just enjoy my time on the set.

STRIPLV: You’ve said in the past that acting had been a form of therapy for you, does it still carry that benefit? 

SEYFRIED: Yes. When I’m playing a scene where I have to cry, it’s very easy for me to draw on those kinds of sad feelings that dwell inside me. I’ve also developed tools to help me overcome a lot of my fears. Studying Buddhism has been very helpful to me— it’s enabled me to overcome those moments where I might have an anxiety attack before doing a scene and help me regain my focus and be in the present. Being able to do that, it gives you so much satisfaction and a sensation of euphoria.

STRIPLV: In the past, you’ve spoken about having to worry about your weight and trying not to have to starve yourself to conform to Hollywood’s idea of female beauty?

SEYFRIED: I’m pretty comfortable with how I look. I would like to be taller, maybe, but I’m happy the way I am, which is something it takes a while to experience as a woman. We’re always looking at our flaws. What’s so strange is that even though a lot of magazine articles always mentioned my eyes, in school all the kids made fun of my big eyes. Children can be really cruel, that way. But when I started getting acting jobs, then my eyes became something that people loved about me. That kind of teaches you something about just accepting yourself and not being frantic about what other people think.

STRIPLV: I’ve heard you can’t watch yourself in movies. Why not?

SEYFRIED: For whatever reason. I’m too critical; it’s a problem with me. I really should be just doing plays because I’ll never be able to see it, I’ll just live it. It’s more where you are than what you’re doing as an actor. You can’t do anything about it.

STRIPLV: You looked like you enjoyed your time presenting at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards. Is it better to write something or go off the top of your head?

SEYFRIED: I think everybody should always write something, especially me. I can’t go off the top of my head; I’m useless.

STRIPLV: You couldn’t freestyle anything?

SEYFRIED: I can’t. I would never do that to myself. I would sound like just an idiot. So no, you need to be prepared. Preparation, Period.

STRIPLV: You’ve said that you have a problem with confrontation. What troubles you about that?

SEYFRIED: I have an obsession with being authentic and truthful with myself and with other people as well. But I have trouble bringing myself to stand up for myself in certain situations where I feel I’m not being treated correctly. I have this fear of confronting people, though, and I don’t want to be hypocritical in situations where I’m unhappy— it’s something I’m still working on.

STRIPLV: In Gringo, you played Sunny. Do you consider yourself close to Sunny as a person, maybe a certain level?

SEYFRIED: I’m pretty wide-eyed and hopeful and also pretty optimistic, and I think yeah, that’s where I do connect with her. But I would never let any of that happen. I would ask too many questions where she doesn’t ask enough and even when she is asking, and he is dodging her questions, I would keep asking, and she didn’t. Because she wants to believe in the good of people and I do too. I’m super trusting in certain ways with certain people, and I do kind of let them get away with it, but not as much as Sunny.

STRIPLV: In Gringo, it’s not a traditional comedy as there weren’t funny lines, but it was more like the situations that your character experienced were so extreme. So did that make you comfortable with doing comedy?

SEYFRIED: Right. Yeah, exactly. It’s just the response, the reaction of the characters in these extreme situations that can be funny if it’s not dark. So that was fun, really fun to play.

STRIPLV: How was your experience with David? He’s a great actor, but it was the first time we’ve seen him playing a goofy character in a comedic role.

SEYFRIED: It was good that he was able to have this opportunity to be fun and goofy and I imagine he doesn’t get that very often because he’s such a good actor and of course we all want those theatrical parts. But he’s also really good at having fun and getting it, getting the joke. He’s in on the joke. So, he’s a perfect Harold.

STRIPLV: How was your experience with Nash and Joel considering that they’re siblings— and also there’s something about Australian culture that is very attractive or very warm? Did you feel that?

SEYFRIED: Yes, of course. They’re close, and they’re good friends, and they have a very similar vision. I didn’t work with Joel on Gringo, actually. There were no scenes with us together, but I know Joel, and I’ve known both him and Nash for a long time since I did another movie a while ago and we were in the same town shooting two different movies, years back. It felt very much like family. Nash is very calm and collected and knows what he wants, and as a friend and a director, it’s always a little weird but he made a beautiful set, and we were traveling around a lot. We were in Mexico City and Veracruz, and we were in Chicago for a second and he’s good, he’s outstanding. His brother, Joel, seems to take excellent direction from Nash as well.

STRIPLV: In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, does the story again revolve around Meryl Streep’s character Donna?

SEYFRIED: Yeah, her character Donna is the heart and soul of Mamma Mia!. So, luckily, it’s not just, we know Meryl as Donna, but we don’t actually know Donna as a young woman. Which is why it’s so good that we have a prequel aspect to the sequel because it is a sequel but it’s also a prequel, and Lily James comes in and like blows everyone away with her Donna.

STRIPLV: However, there’s something about everybody?

SEYFRIED: Oh, everybody’s very much in the movie and then some.

STRIPLV: Some viewers thought that Donna had died in the previous movie.

SEYFRIED: Oh yeah. But don’t, nobody should worry.

STRIPLV: It is all ABBA songs, right?

SEYFRIED: It is. It’s not like we’re going to add like, you know, a Jimi Hendrix song in there. It would be nice, but no, it’s all ABBA. We were married to ABBA, and it wouldn’t be right any other way. We have songs that people don’t know very well, and we’re bringing more of the old stuff back into the game, into 2018.

STRIPLV: You looked like your character in the film was best friends with Cher. Would you like that to happen in real life?

SEYFRIED: Cher would be a great best friend and believe me, I am working on her!

STRIPLV: Is there a text message group right now?

SEYFRIED: No, no, no. But that’s a good idea. She’s a woman’s woman, and she’s everything. She is so awesome; she’s so awesome. Everybody should want to be friends with Cher, and few are lucky actually to be friends with her.

STRIPLV: And you’re one of the few?

SEYFRIED: No, not just yet. But maybe.

STRIPLV: You’ve taken the brave step of recreating the role here.

SEYFRIED: I know people say “never go back” but this was such a wonderful project to be involved in, and I think I’ve matured and grown enough as a person to be able to come back and put a different slant on things. The character is older and so am I, obviously, so there’s a natural combination and an opportunity to show how character and actress have grown. My character, Sophie, has become a business owner, she’s got herself a partner. She’s fiery, confident and independent, but also touching and beautiful, and that’s a lovely combination to try to do justice to.

STRIPLV: It must feel good to be a part of such a significant franchise now?

SEYFRIED: I’ve said it before, but it feels magic. To be in something surrounded by song and such brilliant music feels entirely different for a typical film. There’s so much to invest, and I think the real difference is the music makes this film stay in your head for so much longer than a typical movie. That’s really powerful.

STRIPLV: You also seem very grounded, and that seems difficult because being in the public eye, one can lose perspective.

SEYFRIED: It’s not that hard to have a realistic perspective. It’s not that hard to believe that most of it is bullshit and that everything is fleeting. So, if you have good morals and values, and you have good friends around you to keep you sane, even when you go off the rails a little bit, whether it’s insecurity, or you’re working too hard and not sleeping, or you are anxious about the energy of what you’re experiencing in Hollywood, you can get derailed for a second. So when you meet assholes, you know that life is much easier when you’re not an asshole. When you realize that you’re not the only person, that you’re not more important than everybody else then it’s super easy, I think.   

STRIPLV: Have you always enjoyed having pets or animals around you?

SEYFRIED: I grew up on the outskirts of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and even though my family lived in a normal apartment we often went on vacation in the Hudson Valley. There were a lot of farms in the area, and I always dreamed that one day I would live on a farm full of animals. Then a few years ago I found a beautiful farmhouse in the area, and I bought it. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t like loud places or having a lot of activity around me. Crowds make me uncomfortable and airports are probably the most stressful places for me. I find it hard to deal with all the people rushing in different directions, and I get very anxious in those situations. That’s why living in the countryside is such a joy for me and also for Thomas. We have this lovely little grocery store near us, and it’s so much fun shopping there and also buying fresh vegetables at the local farmer’s market. I also have my own vegetable garden where I grow lettuce and blueberries and tomatoes.

STRIPLV: Do you always try to keep your personal life private?

SEYFRIED: Not religiously. I mean I’ll talk about what’s going on.

STRIPLV: You seem more relaxed than others when it comes to that.

SEYFRIED: I like to talk. Maybe that gets me in trouble, and you’ve got to be smart when it comes to that stuff. But I’ll never hid away. I know its simple math to do so, but I never want to be in that position. There was a time though when I would speak to journalists and talk about personal things thinking they were my friend and then it’s something that comes back to you over and over. Taken out of context, all that shit. I think I learned a lot from Meryl Streep in putting up a barrier. Not a barrier, just being good at separating life from career, and god, then she’s still lovely and funny and charismatic and charming. There’s a way of doing it.

STRIPLV: Do you dislike the interview process then?

SEYFRIED: No, I like it. I sometimes feel like I learn something about myself. Not all the time. And they can be really funny too. Especially if it’s something that makes journalists a little shy or uncomfortable. When I was doing interviews for Lovelace, I told one guy that to prepare I gave as many blowjobs as I could. (Laughs) And he was like, silent. He actually believed me. It was really funny.

STRIPLV: Did he write about it?

SEYFRIED: I don’t know. Maybe.

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