Amanda Seyfried: "I'm not anti-porn at all"

The star of "Lovelace" opens up about playing porn's first star and her dream role -- Hillary Rodham Clinton

By Daniel D'Addario

Published August 5, 2013 11:59PM (EDT)

Amanda Seyfried is one of a crowded generation of starlets. Just look at her two appearances on the cover of Vanity Fair; in both instances, she's one among a group of relatively the same level of fame. With only so many good roles to go around, how can an actress distinguish herself among a sea of Kristens and Emmas?

Though she's not possessed of Kristen Stewart's appealing darkness or Emma Stone's once-in-a-generation charisma, Seyfried's building a résumé either of them might envy -- and doing so while speaking her mind more frankly than just about any of her cohort. After playing the innocent in box-office hits including "Mean Girls," "Mamma Mia" and "Les Misérables," she's taking on the role of the first world-famous porn star in Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's biopic "Lovelace."

The film rather explicitly details both the goofy, innocent-seeming "Deep Throat," the multimillion-grossing film that made Linda Lovelace famous, as well as Lovelace's systematic degradation at the hands of her husband (played by Peter Sarsgaard). The tone of "Lovelace" is tricky throughout -- the on-set shenanigans and provocative (though not explicit) depictions of Seyfried performing the titular act of "Deep Throat" so quickly curdle into scene after scene of rape and abuse. Lovelace's eventual decision to crusade against porn until her untimely death makes sense within the context of the film -- even as the porn scene in the 1970s is made to seem, for so many people, like fun. It's a lot to hold in one's mind at once.

And yet Seyfried isn't afraid to work through these issues. In a wide-ranging conversation, Seyfried showed that, even though she fears she may have to walk away from the entertainment industry for a few years, she has the broad interests and willingness to speak out of an old-school grand dame. She admitted to being a feminist, confessed her dream role (Hillary Clinton, in the upcoming biopic "Rodham"), and discussed why she's not worried about the industry respecting her anymore. And, unlike so many of her peers, she was willing to admit that she hates interviews. Perhaps when she's promoting her next big role (Seth MacFarlane's "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), she'll be subjected to media training; for now, in a sea of interchangeable starlets, she's entirely refreshing.

To what degree do you think playing Linda Lovelace is a feminist statement? She was such an anti-porn crusader in the later parts of her life.

Yeah, I guess it is. I mean, I’m all for women’s rights. I’m all for civil rights. I think things have changed dramatically since ’72, when she was being coerced into all this. She claimed she was being coerced into all this stuff, but at one point I realized I couldn’t be cynical anymore and I was playing her and I had to justify – and now I believe her, I fully believe her. She really fought hard when there was no hope, and people were just really not listening, but she climbed on board, and she was an anti-porn crusader and she was a feminist and she fought against domestic abuse. She did a lot. So yeah, maybe this is a statement, but it’s just simply – I would always fight for women’s rights, I feel the same way. I mean, of course, of course!

Who wouldn’t?

Jesus, equal rights – fuck. Is it that hard? It is clearly that hard to get the fucking world on board with that. But yes, I guess so.

She was such a strong anti-porn crusader, and yet porn is still very much with us. Does that bother you?

Yeah, I mean, I’m not anti-porn at all. I’m anti-bullying. But it’s funny. It is different. You certainly don’t go to the theater and see feature-length pornos, but it’s everywhere. You want to get away from it sometimes. There’s so much access … it’s the Internet, man. That’s what it is. Before, it was taboo and it was exciting, I think at that time, and they wanted to bring it out – that was the sexual revolution, the beginning of that, and although that’s a positive way to look at it, she also didn’t want to be a part of it at all. That was never what she wanted to do, but of course I imagine the fame aspect was the only break she got, because she became familiar to people and it was exciting to her.

Leaving politics entirely out of it, this is kind of a risky part, because you go so far in this movie.

Yeah, I didn’t really see it as that risky. I saw it as a fucking huge opportunity to spread my wings – it sounds really stupid, but – just show range, experience. Every role that I play is an emotional education for me, and also one step toward, hopefully, longevity. Does that make sense? I want to get lost in my parts, and I don’t want people to see me as any one character. I think I’ve succeeded at that so far, and I’d like to keep playing parts like this.

Just playing a real person is risky. I didn’t know about the perception of my peers, and people in the industry didn’t – people are very judgmental, and I don't know, I can’t worry about that shit anymore. This spoke to me. I wanted to be her voice. I felt for her.

Is this a new approach for you, or have you always kind of wanted to go with what moves you?

Yeah, I always – oh, God. If it doesn’t move you, then you’re going to be stuck for two or three months, then you’re going to be stuck promoting something that you don’t give a fuck about.

I can’t imagine anything more boring.

No. It’s already awful, to go around promoting your movie. You have to say the same thing over and over again. Which is fine, when you really believe in it – it’s not a bad job at all. I don’t want to whine about it. But if you don’t believe in something, there’s no use doing it. I mean, money certainly doesn’t move a lot of people I know in this industry, and so we can agree on that. But it’s definitely always been something that I’ve put in the forefront of my mind: diversity, keep it different, it needs to move me, it needs to be important to me in some way, and it needs to have a message in some way.

What sort of roles are you looking for in the future, beyond those general guidelines?

I want to play Hillary, but I don't know what’s happening with that now. The script is really good, and she’s really important to me. I don't know, I just finished a comedy and it’s really – I’d love to play [the late singer] Eva Cassidy one day.

Yeah. That voice.

Yeah, yeah, that story. There are a lot of people I’d really love to play. I love biopics. I’d certainly not want to play a superhero, but I’d certainly want to do something with Chris Nolan. There are so many things I want to do, but there are so many options.

And that’s the beauty of being young, right? You have the rest of it ahead of you.

I mean, yeah, if you’re lucky. It’s all a game of fucking luck, really, even for someone who’s been in it for 10 years. I might fall off the radar for a few years and then come back on. You never know, you just want to make the right decisions. You really want to go with what moves you.

Can I ask why Hillary Clinton is important to you?

Because she’s, fucking, an incredibly strong, smart woman. She has her own voice and she’s fair and she’s liberal and she – you can’t compare her to anybody. She’s, like, an anomaly, and I really think she’s going to be president. We’re talking about women’s rights – a fucking woman, that a lot of people would agree with me, she could be president. Jesus, a woman running this country – a woman running the world, we need that. She’s funny, too. She’s just somebody you want to know, and she works so hard, and she … I don't know. I look at Bill the same way, but he’s different. Those are the two people in my life that I would … I’d love to meet them before I die.

That’d be really cool.

[whispers] I want to play her.

I know.

She’s so …  inspiring. She’s like everybody’s mom. Is that weird to say? She’s also got a good sense of humor. She’s really aware … I see that woman as someone who can totally take care of us.

It’s a really rare quality.

Yeah, she doesn’t seem political. That’s what’s crazy about her … watching people run for anything, watching people debate, it’s so gross to me, because there’s always a level of fraud, because it has to be.

It’s kind of like a press junket.

Yeah, it’s just … it’s impossible, you can’t please everybody, so you have to try to in a way, in how you behave and how you speak and she doesn’t seem to have any of that façade.

Was there ever a time in your career where you felt like you had to please everybody?

Still. Always.

Really? How do you think you do at it?

I think I’m pretty good at it. I want everybody that surrounds me to be happy. I don’t want to give anybody a hard time. I want everybody to feel -- everybody has different jobs in my career, in terms of my support. So I don't know.

Directors, too, it always feels like I’m doing something wrong. I’m a people-pleaser, and it takes a lot of energy and I realize I lose a lot of myself. I’m working on it. I don’t confront people if I’m having a problem with something. It’s as simple as, like, if I have a problem with my hair, I won’t say anything.

You’ll suffer in silence.

Because I just don’t want to dirty any waters. I want people to be happy, and sometimes that’s not the right way to behave.

Something to work on.

Yeah, I guess. It really is true, actually. I have a hard time articulating how I feel about things. Thanks for asking me questions that a lot of people don’t want to ask me, because I seem like an idiot.

I hope you don’t feel that way.

No, politically, I need to learn more. Like, I would never go on Bill Maher, for instance.

I wouldn’t either, and I’m a journalist, so …

[imitating a "Real Time" panelist] What’s the deal with Israel?!

Daniel D'Addario

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Adam Brody Amanda Seyfried Hillary Rodham Clinton Lovelace Peter Sarsgaard Porn