Interview with Amanda Seyfried of Les Misérables
It was 2004 when we first met Amanda Seyfried on the big screen, as she sparkled in the teen-angst comedy Mean Girls. Having modelled since the age of 11 and put away several television roles prior to her celluloid debut, Seyfried seemed a natural on the silver screen, equipped with all those essential qualities: beauty, poise, pout, ambition, and that glint in the eye that demands to learn and know more about the fantastical filmic world around her.
Since Mean Girls, she has appeared in everything from romantic dramas (Dear John, Letters To Juliet) and erotic thrillers (Chloe, Jennifer’s Body), to quirky indie flicks (Nine Lives, Alpha Dog) and musicals (Mamma Mia!).
Her most recent turn has been in the stage-come-celluloid epic Les Misérables in which she plays Cosette, the orphan of an unwed mother deserted by her father. Hence her character is very much the linchpin of this Victor Hugo classic.
With her ability to portray a diverse array of handsome young women, it is no wonder that the House of Givenchy has hired Amanda as the face for its new Very Irresistible parfum (see a clip of it here).
In this interview, Amanda Seyfriend talks about how her role in Les Misérables took more from the book than the stage, and the occasional art of lip-synching.
You had some past musical experience with Mamma Mia!, the movie (2008). How did that experience help prepare you for this, your role of Cosette in Les Misérables?
This is a completely different animal. It is a drama, it is a tragedy, it is a really dark story told through song, which you would not think would work, but it is a phenomenon. With these actors and with Tom Hooper directing it, it actually pulls you into it. It is funny when you see Les Misérables (2012), when some of the characters speak you are kind of pulled out of it — you expect them to sing because the music lends itself to that feeling. It is just a really big challenge. For Mamma Mia!, I just recorded my stuff months ahead of time and learned how to lip-sync my voice. For this, it was completely different.
[Actor] Eddie Redmayne told me how HughJackman said that while you are lip-syncing stuff, you spend a lot of your brainpower thinking about syncing up with your words rather than focusing on the actual emotional aspect of the performance.
You cannot really be in the moment, and there is no freedom whatsoever. You are stuck with what you have recorded, and it works for a lot of things. It works for Mamma Mia! It is an entirely different genre.
Your character is a positive anchor in a very dark story. You have to maintain a certain energy level but still be aware of the tragedy around you.
I felt the responsibility of being that light in these densely tragic surroundings, and the circumstances are just tragic. I needed to be the source of light or maybe the only source of light.
It’s a very challenging part.
We took a lot of Cosette from the book because on stage she can sometimes just disappear in everything else that is going on. She is such a positive source, such a symbol of hope, and we had to make sure she was interesting as well.
In this day and age, it must be hard to keep somebody isolated in the way that Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) does with Cosette because of cell phones, the Internet and everything else. How did you get in the headspace of being completely cut off?
You have to have this kind of naivety that I think I actually have in certain ways. That was a resource for me; just someone who actually has not seen the bad parts or really experienced the good parts. [The character of Cosette] is very protected and in a way she is very comfortable, but at the same time she cannot even explore and really has no idea what is out there, which is why this falling in love with Marius (Eddie Redmayne) at first sight pulls her out of her cage in a way. You can see that teenage angst at that point. She becomes alive.
Les Misérables is available now on Blu-ray and DVD through Universal Home Entertainment (and just in time for Mother’s Day!).
Pictured (top of story): Amanda Seyfried for Parfums Givenchy, and (below) a still from Les Misérables.