Amy Adams is in fine form as a damaged reporter in the adaptation of novel Sharp Objects, writes MICHELE MANELIS
Amy Adams stars in new show Sharp Objects
IT’S every parent’s nightmare … a serial killer, with a dark thirst for murdering little girls.
So for Amy Adams – the star of Sharp Objects and mother to eight-year old daughter Aviana – it was a gruesome and confronting story to explore.
Playing a damaged crime reporter investigating the deaths of two young girls in her home town, Adams admits to TV Guide: “It was really hard to live inside this world of violence. It doesn’t help that I have insomnia, so I’d wake up often and sometimes find there was a residual effect [of that day’s shooting]. When I’d go home I’d try to do something grounding, like make dinner or do homework, something that felt normal and got me back into my own skin.”
In the eight-part series – based on the novel by Gone
Girl author Gillian Flynn and directed by Big Little Lies’ Jean Marc Vallee – Adams says she gave into the role in ways she wasn’t aware.
“Well, [surprisingly] I didn’t have any nightmares. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so much Law & Order that I’m immune to all those kinds of crime stories,” she says.
“But then again, I’d just wake up and be filled with anxiety and not know where it was coming from, before I’d realise, ‘Oh, actually this isn’t my anxiety, this is my character’s anxiety that I haven’t dealt with!’”
That character, Camille Preaker, is an alcoholic, recently released from psychiatric care, still harbouring many secrets, including a body covered in cuts from self-mutilation. It’s a condition she’s battled since her sister died when they were both children.
The extensive make-up required, as well as having a solvent and adhesive applied all over her body, only added to the intensity and ignominy of the job for Adams.
“I had to stand there pretty much naked for four hours, which is not my natural state,” she says, laughing.
“I mean, I’m not shy, but I’m not an exhibitionist either. So it really made me feel vulnerable, which kind of helped stepping onto the set exposed in that way.”
The kind of self-loathing her character lives with manifests itself in a disregard for her own physical appearance. In fact, it’s safe to say this is probably Adams’ least glamorous role to date.
“What are you saying?” she says, pretending to be insulted.
“I really enjoyed approaching this role with a certain lack of vanity. It was appropriate and I didn’t really even think about how I would feel about it until I started watching it. Then I was like, ‘Oh wow! I really maybe should have been a bit more vain!’ But actually, it’s really freeing to let go of that and get to dive into a character without vanity.
“What was difficult,” she explains, “was that level of vulnerability that was required … that’s a place that’s hard for me.”
“Maybe that’s why I don’t like to be on social media as it makes me feel too vulnerable as well as feeling exposed. Well, this role made me both,” she says.
“I had to sort of contend with my own demons a little bit in order to tackle this role because it made me examine myself.”
Co-star Patricia Clarkson also turns in a stellar performance as Adams’ mother, who is clearly dealing with myriad personal issues.
A constant state of antagonism between the pair ensues.
“They seem to have an allergic reaction to one another,” Clarkson notes.
Meanwhile, Sydney-born beauty Eliza Scanlen, 19, gives an astounding breakout performance as Adams’ half sister, who idolises her damaged older sibling.
“Eliza is so amazing,” enthuses Adams.
“She had no problem with the [American] accent, but the way that Jean-Marc works is very demanding and for a young actress who doesn’t have the breadth of experience that Patricia and I do, she more than held her own.
“Eliza was completely fearless. I was so envious of her youth and her energy because she was just inexhaustible and good.”
In the series, the two sisters share a deep bond despite their age difference. How was it off screen?
“Well, I wanted it to be cooler and like I was a friend but I’m so much older than her,” Adams laughs. “But she is truly thrilling to watch.”
As Sharp Objects reveals so acutely, so too is Adams.
SHARP OBJECTS 11AM AND 8.30PM, MONDAY, SHOWCASE AND FOXTEL ON DEMAND