“Women have a tendency to take whatever hurt they have inside and either turn it on themselves or turn it on each other — this heroine who is so strong and courageous, who has survived by inflicting all this pain on herself finally goes on this journey where she seeks out the truth of what that pain is about.”
Amy Adams on her transition from big screen to small screen: ‘It’s a totally intense experience!’
Raymond de Asis Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2018 - 12:00am

Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a journalist and an alcoholic, who returns to her small hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to report on the gruesome murder of one preteen girl and the disappearance of another. Once home, she gets to confront her past and the tragic circumstance that drove her away.

MANILA, Philippines —  “In America, major films with very difficult lead female characters don’t get made that often, they get shoved off to the side,” Marti Noxon shared this observation with this writer during our interview recently. Marti is the creator and co-writer of HBO’s adaptation of best-selling author Gillian Flynn’s dark novel Sharp Objects.

“The subject matter is so tricky, the character so unique, you don’t want people not to hear the story because it has a powerful message,” she added. “So, I just felt that television was the right format that would get Gillian’s story seen by most people.”

“Women have a tendency to take whatever hurt they have inside and either turn it on themselves or turn it on each other — this heroine who is so strong and courageous, who has survived by inflicting all this pain on herself finally goes on this journey where she seeks out the truth of what that pain is about.”

The eight-episode journey starts today at 9 a.m. on HBO and HBO GO.

Sharp Objects tells the story of Camille Preaker, a journalist and an alcoholic, who returns to her small hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to report on the gruesome murder of one preteen girl and the disappearance of another. Once home, she gets to confront her past and the tragic circumstance that drove her away.

Tasked with bringing Camille to life on screen is Hollywood superstar and perennial Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who finds her transition from the big screen to the small screen an “intense experience.”

“You have eight hours of this person’s life that you’re telling as opposed to fitting it all into two hours, so the arc is very different and the commitment level through it was different for me because it was a very intense experience — the sort that never ends,” Amy said with a halting laugh during our interview. “And Jean-Marc works in that way and, I think, that helps inform his material because you really never leave the set once you’re there, it becomes really intense.”

Amy is also one of the executive producers on the series.

This writer has seen the first two episodes of the series and it is absolutely riveting, hypnotic even! Director Jean-Marc Vallee, who also helmed the award-winning Big Little Lies for HBO last year, has another winner here. Amy will likely get an Emmy ahead of an Oscar for her powerful performance in the series.

“Hopefully, I don’t spoil your opinion in the next six episodes,” she said half-smiling after we marveled at her performance.

Getting to her status as one of the most admired actresses working today wasn’t easy, however.

In the early days of her career, Amy had a hard time balancing between the characters she plays and her real life. “I have gotten better at it. My husband suffered, I suffered and then when my daughter was younger I had to figure it out because there was a couple of experiences that were really challenging and I just thought I got to figure out something or it can’t work because I don’t want to be this mom — coming home and not being present.”

Amy with creator Marti Noxon (center) and author Gillian Flynn

Today, to help her cope, she finds time to relax on the set. “I do a lot more meditation, I do a lot more breathing. I take moments on set where I lay down for half an hour.”

She also engages the assistance of famed acting coach Warner Loughlin, who helps her prepare for complicated roles like that of Camille.

“I work with her before I start, not every project, but if it looks like it’s going to be super complicated — I worked with her on this one, worked with her on Arrival — things like when you’re going, sort of, back and forth in time. What she really helped me do is find a place where my character can live that I don’t exist in. I am never owning my character’s trauma because I am not putting my own trauma in there.”

It’s the opposite of method acting to some degree.

“I can’t help it if at some point if it permeates you but I don’t use my own trauma, my own life, my own fears, because I deal with it very differently.”

She revealed that in real life, it’s very hard to make her cry.

“If I am upset, I get mad! If somebody makes me feel sad or makes me feel vulnerable, I shut down, so that doesn’t work for acting, like, you’ll say ‘cry,’ and I am not going to cry because now I am just angry!”

And that’s how she earned the nickname Angry Adams. “I don’t cry. I shut down and I get very, very precise. So, I had to find a way to create different characters where I could access how they would deal with something as opposed to how I would deal with it.”

At some point during our interview, Amy paused and told us it was weird talking about acting techniques because she feels like Bette Midler’s character C.C. Bloom in the tearjerker Beaches.

“You know, when she’s watching herself do the interview? ‘C.C. feels deeply!’ I start to feel like that and immediately get self-aware.” To correct herself, she would do what her coach calls “leaving emotion with details” and what Amy does is “remember a moment but you remember every detail about it because memory is weird in that way.”

In Sharp Objects, Amy had to gain and lose weight, had to go fully naked in front of the camera, and had to engage in some delicate and sensitive scenes — and she embraced it all.

“This is a girl who lives on sugar and vodka and whiskey. That became important to me. I didn’t want Camille to be a beauty queen who just happens to have flaws. I wanted her to feel flawed.”

In the episodes we saw, there are a couple of scenes where the actress had to show a certain amount of vulnerability due to nudity and sexual situations and Amy admitted to having a drop of whiskey just like how her character would have done it. “Camille was drinking!” she joked.

“I like to be honest, I don’t want to pull something here,” she explained. “I don’t necessarily believe in doing that to get into character but there are times when she’s so messed up that I would just, you know!”

Sharp Objects was author Flynn’s first novel and Camille, was her very first heroine.

“This was my first novel, yet the last to reach screen — 12 long and often disappointing years. But then Amy came along, and I thought, ‘Oh, that was it! Camille was waiting for Amy to play her,’” Gillian said. “I really believe Camille needed Amy.”

AMY ADAMS GILLIAN FLYNN MARTI NOXON SHARP OBJECTS
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