As the porn legend turned activist, Amanda Seyfried takes on her most risqué role to date in Lovelace, which premiered at Sundance. The actress tells Marlow Stern about the role, Mean Girls, and if she has ever been exploited.
Linda Boreman spent only 17 days in the pornography business. She emerged a legend.
Her 1972 porn film Deep Throat, which featured her as Linda Lovelace performing the eponymous sex act in the film’s climactic scene, became the highest-grossing porno of all time. Deep Throat netted $600 million and was so mainstream it even scored a review in The New York Times. However, Lovelace entered the porn biz while under the control of her husband-manager, Chuck Traynor, whom she alleges coerced her into porn, got her hooked on drugs, and even pimped her out. She eventually split from Traynor, quit the porn biz, and became an anti-pornography and women’s-rights activist.
Lovelace, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, stars the typically chaste Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables) as the embattled starlet alongside Peter Sarsgaard as Traynor. Following its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the Weinstein Co. immediately acquired the movie for a cool $3 million.
Seyfried sat down with The Daily Beast at Sundance to chat about playing Lovelace, the polar opposite of her Cosette in Les Miz, as well as the enduring legacy of Mean Girls—and why she’s easily taken advantage of.
Going from live singing in Les Misérables to Lovelace, you’ve really been showcasing your range.
The funny thing is, I only had three weeks between the two. I played Linda first, and when we were getting to do this film I was auditioning for Les Miz. I had to let go of the Les Miz fight to focus on this. I ended up getting the call a month later while I was doing Lovelace, and I thought, “This is so great! I got the movie.” But I stopped singing because I was full-on into Linda. It’s just crazy that I did both in such a short amount of time.
And to jump from an abused porn star to one of the most virtuous, chaste characters in the history of literature in Cosette is a pretty big leap.
It saved me, and it’s so funny that it saved me. I’ve never played a role like Linda before and gone so far into myself. And to pull yourself out of that when the filming is over, especially since it’s based on a real person, was very hard. It dragged me down afterward. Plus, I created such a bond with everyone on Lovelace. But as soon as I stepped onto the set of Les Miz three weeks later in London, I was like, “Thank God!” Because it was like postpartum depression getting over Lovelace.
What did you do to research the role of Linda? Did you watch Deep Throat?
I watched Deep Throat with a friend. [Laughs] But the directors had this huge book of material for me to study, which was great. You can of course go on the Internet and see everything she was in, including snuff films and bestiality, but I have no interest in any of that. And I feel for her, I really do. But it’s just off the charts disturbing. And there’s also so much footage, and we reenacted scenes from Deep Throat and her Phil Donahue interview. It’s so great to be able to mimic people sometimes.
How fun was it to reenact those Deep Throat scenes? It’s so great and campy.
It was so fun! I had an amazing fucking cast. Everybody was so funny and amazing, and took their characters and made them sweethearts in this crazy, weird world. You root for these people ’cause it’s so cheesy and sweet in a way, what they were trying to do.
Was there any apprehension in playing Lovelace? This is your raciest role to date, and there’s plenty of nudity.
I don’t know if it’s the raciest! Chloe was way more graphic and racier than this. But funny enough, the movie is not that graphic at all. They said, “This is not a porn.” There’s intimacy, but there are scenes of Peter kissing my [birth] scar, so it’s really about the sexual revolution and her growing into her sexuality. There’s nothing gratuitous about it. It’s a risky part to take on, but I felt safe.
How did you occupy such a complicated character’s headspace? Do you have a particular “method” for this as an actor?
I got caught in a wave that I’ve never experienced before when I was doing the polygraph-test scene with Eric Roberts. I really did have to go there and visualize it and experience what she was actually going through. There was a moment where I completely lost myself. I don’t know how I do things or my method, but it just feels real.
You’ve been acting and modeling since probably as far back as you can remember. Have you ever been caught up in a situation where you felt like you lost control and were being puppeteered, in a way?
Yeah. I think back in the day I had a lot less support and a lot fewer people around protecting me when I got started doing Mean Girls. I very easily could have done something that would have been…because I want to please people. I still have this issue and I’m working on it. I’m not very assertive, and I literally will do what people ask me to do, so I could have easily gotten into trouble because I don’t want people to hate me. I still find myself in situations where people are like, “Will you do this for me?” And then I find myself in a situation where I’m like, “What the hell am I doing?”
So how do you assert control over your career?
That’s why I have a publicist who is so protective, because she knows me. I’ve said stuff in the press that I wish I could take back. I’m very open, and people do take advantage of it for the story. Even on Conan, it was funny at first, but then I realized I was being very graphic in my descriptions of how I was simulating Deep Throat, and I even said on air, “Now I’m doing this for the wrong reason; I’m trying to get a reaction and it’s going to go too far.” So I was able to stop myself. But I’ve never been in very intense situations where I’ve completely lost control.
You mentioned Mean Girls. It’s such a cult classic. People still quote it, and it really stands alongside Clueless now as this pop-culture phenomenon. What are your thoughts on its legacy?
I can tell the weather with my boobs! I’m kidding. [Laughs] I’m so super proud of it, and I think it’s the best movie I’ve ever done, hands down.
Do “the Plastics” still get together at all?
No! I haven’t seen Lacey [Chabert] or Rachel [McAdams] in years. We got along very well while we were shooting. It was so fun, very innocent, and a sweet group of people. I sometimes run into Tina [Fey]. I think she’s one of the most insanely gifted comediennes of our time, and I’m desperate to work with her again.