By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—In her new movie “Gone,” Amanda Seyfried plays a woman who must overcome paralyzing fear to track down a serial killer who has kidnapped her sister. In real life, the blond star of “Mamma Mia!” “Red Riding Hood” and “Dear John” has a more unlikely phobia, given her celebrity status: she’s afraid of going on talk shows. The host she most fears may come as a surprise to fans of the actress.
The 26-year-old recently talked about her stage fright, her newest role and depicting a famous porn star in her next role.
Front Row Features: Your character, Jill, is fearful of his guy who could have killed her, yet she forges ahead to find her sister. Is there something you’re really afraid of that you had to work through?
Amanda Seyfried: Yes. I’m still working through it—talk shows. I have a big fear of talk shows. Truthfully, I drink whiskey.
Front Row Features: Which brand?
Seyfried: Jameson. It really is the only thing (that works). I’ve tried taking beta-blockers; I’ve tried therapy. I’m just afraid of ever looking fragile as a spokesperson for a movie, something that I’m very passionate about. To falter would be not succeeding. It’s a big fear of mine. The fact is I have four talk shows coming up and I’m terrified. Whenever I’m on stage, I always have a good time. It’s just beforehand.
Front Row Features: Do you have a favorite interviewer?
Seyfried: Jay Leno. He let’s me talk. I just have had good experiences with him. We have a good back and forth. Chelsea (Handler) is great. She’s easy.
Front Row Features: Who scares you?
Seyfried: I haven’t done Conan (O’Brien yet and I haven’t done Ellen (DeGeneres). I’m kind of terrified about that. How long are Ellen’s interviews? Seven minutes? It seems terrifying to me. I don’t know, a very cold room with all the lights on you. It just actually makes me clammy right now thinking about it.
Front Row Features: How would you describe “Gone?” Is it a horror movie?
Seyfried: It’s more a psychological thriller. It’s very grounded in reality. It’s about a woman on the run trying to save her sister from the serial killer that didn’t get to kill her, and nobody believes her. Whenever anyone is in that situation, I imagine the adrenaline kicks in and you just do what it takes to save the life of your loved one.
Front Row Features: In the scene where you’re bound and gagged, even though you’re acting, what goes on in your head at that moment?
Seyfried: You have to kind of trick yourself into being afraid. In circumstances like that I always trick myself into feeling a certain way, feeling something very similar in something that would really trigger me. When I was at the bottom of the hole, I am a little bit claustrophobic, so I made the hole even deeper in my head and I freaked out.
Front Row Features: Do you think that the part of being a woman limits you somehow to do adventurous things like traveling by yourself to a non-traditional tourist spot?
Seyfried: Absolutely yes. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go by myself anywhere. I know a lot of women that would. I remember Rachel McAdams after “Mean Girls,” she was going to travel to Costa Rica by herself. I was like, “how could you do that?” How lonely is that, first of all? Secondly, how scary? I think that’s why—not to speak for her—I think that’s what adventure is for her maybe or at that point in her life years ago. I think it’s a beautiful thing but I don’t have that in me.
Front Row Features: Who’s your favorite female heroine or female empowerment movie?
Seyfried: Ashley Judd in “Double Jeopardy.” That was my first big obsession in this genre. There are just so many twists. It’s just outsmarting the bad guys. It’s just really satisfying.
Front Row Features: Is it hard to find roles where women are this empowered?
Seyfried: Not really. They’re coming out of the woodwork I guess they are new. I mean, no it isn’t. First of all when I got the script I’m like, “Really? Me? Me, going after the bad guy, really?” And then I was like, no actually it’s very grounded. You can be at any age and you would behave the same way—doing my own driving and doing my own fighting and doing my own shooting.
Front Row Features: Have you taken power training, karate, some kind of self-defense?
Seyfried: I have a trainer named Uly in New York that really wants to teach me this training method he uses and he’s really good at. I just haven’t been in New York in awhile. I haven’t had the time or the energy. But I would. I did a little bit for this movie because I had to. It just feels so good. Physically, to shoot somebody who’s done you wrong even though it’s not real. It’s even better this way because you know there are no consequences. You don’t really feel guilty but the act of doing of it and the act of punching somebody out.
Front Row Features: What did you do to prepare for it?
Seyfried: Gun training and a little bit of fight training. I’m obsessed with this show called “The First 48.” It’s a documentary crime show on A&E. I have a lot of frustration built up for criminals that just kill. We all probably do. We’ve seen enough movies anyway. I had a lot of liberty so it’s not that I had to do a lot of preparation.
Front Row Features: Faced with a similar situation, do you think you could go after someone like that?
Seyfried: I would hope so.
Front Row Features: Your director, Heitor Dhalia, is from Brazil. Any communication problems?
Seyfried: No. He’s great, though he’s not fluent in English. He didn’t need to be because he expresses what he means. He’s a born director. He has a really good eye for visuals. I saw (his previous movie) “Adrift.” I knew what I was getting into. I knew he was going to be amazing.
Front Row Features: You portray porn star Linda Lovelace in your next movie. Can you talk about preparing for that role?
Seyfried: I had to do a lot. I read her books, which actually didn’t take that long. I saw every piece of footage I could get my hands on of her speaking. I did New York accent training. It was a subtle Yonkers accent. We did rehearsals, improv. I did the whole thing.
Front Row Features: There must have been of an empowerment aspect to that.
Seyfried: Yes. She survives. It’s a survival story. It’s amazing. Her story, nobody really knows about it. Two different groups of people were trying to make a movie about her and we won.
Front Row Features: I can just imagine when you’re doing the research, you saying, “Mom, I’m watching porn. I can’t talk right now.”
Seyfried: Yeah, she knew. She’s proud of me. My dad read the book during Christmas break.
Front Row Features: How do you commit to a project? What are the ingredients necessary for you?
Seyfried: A twisted story and a really good director.
Front Row Features: Why twisted?
Seyfried: I don’t know. I just really like a good dark story. Like (Spike Lee’s) “Oldboy”— that’s the kind of movie I want to do.
Front Row Features: Do you miss being on “Big Love?”
Seyfried: Yes and no. I still see a lot of them. Chloe (Sevigny) was on set the other day. She plays the journalist in “Lovelace.” Jeanne (Triplehorn) lives two blocks away from me. Doug (Smith) is my best friend. My sound guys from “Big Love” are doing “Lovelace.” We had our grips from “Big Love.” But I don’t miss playing Sarah at all.
Front Row Features: How do you see your future?
Seyfried: I don’t know. I’ll have kids and keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully.
Front Row Features: Would you like to direct a movie?
Seyfried: No. I don’t need anything else on my plate. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Me, directing a movie? No.
Front Row Features: You’ve done “Mamma Mia!” and you’re tapped to do “Les Miserables.” Will you ever record a pop album?
Seyfried: No. I had to do a pop video for when “Mamma Mia!” came out, and that was an embarrassing experience in my life.
Front Row Features: Is that a no?
Seyfried: I’m saying no right now. I might change my mind in 10 years but probably not. I have stage fright.
Front Row Features: Which movie role do you get recognized the most?
Seyfried: “Letters to Juliet” and “Mamma Mia!” Crazy, huh?