Amy Adams, who does double duty as actor and an executive producer on the HBO miniseries Sharp Objects, struggled on today’s panel to talk about the challenges of portraying the story’s main character, emotionally troubled (to put it mildly) newspaper reporter Camille Preaker. Patricia Clarkson portrays Adams’ mother.
“When this came across my desk, it terrified me. (I thought) I should probably explore this,” Adams said.
Quick background; Sharp Objects is based on the bestselling book by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn about a reporter, just out from a stay at a psychiatric hospital, who is ordered by her tough editor to return to her small hometown to report on the murders of two preteen girls. Marti Noxon, who wrote the final script, serves as showrunner and writer. Noxon, Flynn and Jean-Marc Vallée also serve as executive producers and Vallée directs.
“I think her relationship with her family and her history, her past is very complicated, and the town has its own history that needs to be resolved in the course of the show,” Adams said. She added that most audience members will be able to relate to the idea of returning to one’s past: “Hers is just very, very extreme,” Adams said.
Adams appeared on the panel, moderated by Pete Hammond, with Vallée, who directed all episodes as he did for HBO series Big Little Lies, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. The pair come to the project with a history. The worked together for some seven years to develop a Janis Joplin biopic that never came to fruition.
A big challenge for the creative team was figuring out how to get inside Camille’s head without the benefit of a narrator in the style of the book. Said Vallée: “I was surprised (the writers didn’t want to go with a voice-over… that’s suicide, no? They are going to compare the series to the book and we are going to get f–ked.” However, the director said the team found ways to express the character’s inner trauma.
Small spoiler alert: One of those ways is through Camille’s behavior of cutting words into her body, through which an audience gets insight into her thoughts. Shooting these scenes required Adams to spend two to four hours virtually naked for the makeup and the prosthetic process.
“I had to stand just literally naked, and that isn’t a natural place for me,” Adams joked. “I used that vulnerability as part of getting into the character.”
She added with a laugh: “We would do scarves over key places. It was all Kosher.”