For Amy Adams, pain of HBO's 'Sharp Objects' is also its pleasure
At HBO's TCA event in Beverly Hills, Amy Adams said she suffered from insomnia while filming 'Sharp Objects'
By Carita Rizzo in Los Angeles
Amy Adams, the five-time Oscar-nominated star of HBO’s dark limited series 'Sharp Objects', says she couldn’t help but bring her troubled journalist character Camille Preaker home to bed at night.
“I had really bad insomnia and would wake up with anxiety, and I had to realize that I didn’t own it—it belonged to Camille,” Adams said on July 25 at the Television Critics Association press tour at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles. “I’d have these insane conversations with myself at four o’clock in the morning, trying to decide what was my anxiety, what was Camille’s.”
'Sharp Objects', the TV adaptation of 'Gone Girl' author Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, centers on a reporter who returns to her small Missouri hometown to investigate a series of murders, while the psychological puzzle of her past plays out simultaneously.
Camille suffers from lingering trauma from her childhood, which manifests through self-mutilation and heavy drinking. Adams said what drew her to the role was not the unraveling of her character, but that throughout her struggles, she somehow maintains power. “It’s something I understand as someone who also has anxiety, stress and depression from time to time, but making the choice to wake up and work through it,” she said.
“Her alcoholism… is not drinking to get drunk,” she says. “It’s self-medicating and self-soothing because she wasn’t soothed as a child by her mother. That’s what I focused on: the trauma that brings about these behaviors.”
Emmy-winning director Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies) said during the panel that he collaborated closely with Adams to get to the raw and emotional truth of Camille.
“I went to her trailer every morning — not that I didn't want to; it was part of the process and I loved it. She's so cerebral that every word, every line, every intention is challenged. And often I don't have answers,” said Vallee. “But when she gets on the set after three hours of makeup, special effects makeup, it becomes instant. She talks, talks, talks, this cerebral, intellectual girl and then — bam.’”
Though at odds on screen, Adams and her on-screen mother, played by Patricia Clarkson, found tremendous support in each other once the cameras stopped rolling. “What saved us, in a way, is that we’d have these traumatic days and then we would drink fake alcohol on set and have real alcohol later,” said Clarkson. “We had a great closeness.”
For her part, Flynn said it took more than a decade to make an on-screen adaptation of her novel because early interest in the book tended to lean heavily on the exploitative elements of the book. “They weren’t interested in Camille, and I wrote Sharp Objects because I loved her, and I wanted to tell the story of generational violence among women and what that felt like,” said Flynn. “And HBO got that.”
During the session, the panelists were asked how they felt about the trope of dead women at the center of a story, and what it felt like to reclaim the genre with numerous women behind-the-scenes. “Anytime women are at the center of a story, we’re winning,” said Clarkson. “We are also winning when the characters are beautifully drawn and complicated, and daring and bold and difficult and unlikeable— which most of us are.”