The first episode of the HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects made its world premiere tonight to a packed house at the Paramount Theatre at the ATX Television Festival. With Flynn’s signature twisted storytelling skills, it left the audience with a feeling of fascinating uneasiness which, in its own way, a good thing — particularly for female-driven narratives.
After the screening, Flynn was joined on the stage by star/executive producer Amy Adams, showrunner Marti Noxon, director/executive producer Jean-Marc Vallée, executive producer Jason Blum as well as David Levine (EVP, HBO Programming) and Pancho Mansfield (EP/President of Global Scripted Programming, Television eOne). Flynn, who is known best for the similarly haunting Academy Award-nominated thriller Gone Girl, pointed out that there are plenty of stories about how men handle violence and rage — but none about women.
“No one wants to hear this kind of story,” said Flynn. “No one wants to hear about women we can’t root for.”
Noxon adds that stories with complicated female leads don’t get support. “I spent the last four or five years taking women-centered projects that aren’t supported and getting them made.”
In Sharp Objects, the woman in question is Camille Preaker (Adams), a reporter who returns to her small hometown to cover the murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. Trying to put together a psychological puzzle from her past, she finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too closely. Based on the first episode, it’s clear she isn’t the typical heroine. She’s flawed and as the story unfolds, the audience attempts to piece together a tragic past that is affecting her present.
The panel talked in depth about how they toyed with Sharp Objects being a feature, but in the end, a series seemed best and Big Little Lies director Vallée was the perfect man to helm the project.
“If there is anyone who understands a totally f*cked up woman it’s Jean-Marc,” joked Adams. “But I dont know if he actually does.”
The series also marks Adams’ first time as an executive producer which is something she has always wanted to do. Known mostly for her feature work (she actually was working on a Janis Joplin project with Vallée which seems to have been shelved), she thinks Sharp Objects works better as a series.
“The novel is so rich,” said the Academy Award-nominated actress. She said that Camille’s internal monologue is “well-suited” for a series and it is “impossible to capture in a 90-minute feature.”
“Television is in a renaissance,” she adds. “It’s a great place for stories — especially this story.”
Sharp Objects debuts on HBO on July 8.