Amanda Seyfried, known for playing bright young things in movies like “Mamma Mia!” and “Dear John,” takes a walk on the wild side in her new film “Chloe.”
The artfully-made erotic thriller, directed by Canadian Atom Egoyan, is about a marriage in jeopardy. Catherine, a gynecologist, played by Julianne Moore, suspects her professor husband David, portrayed by Liam Neeson, has been cheating on her. To test his fidelity, she hires Chloe, an alluring young call girl, to try to seduce him and to report back to her. Misdirected motives and psychological deceptions trigger unfortunate consequences.
The film, set for release on March 26, has already generated advance buzz, primarily for an explicit sex scene between Seyfried and Moore. More important for the 24-year-old actress, playing the enigmatic title character, and holding her own with two consummate actors, she reveals a new dramatic depth that could propel her fast-ascending career to a new plateau.
“It’s a character that wouldn’t come up very often for a person my age,” says Seyfried, promoting the film at a recent roundtable with reporters at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. What will her fans make of her switch to such a dark-side role? “Hopefully they will see me as an actress, rather than just a sweetheart,” she says. “I think ‘Chloe’ is going to raise the bar a bit,” adding, I hope it’s a turning point.”
Lately, Seyfried (pronounced sye-frid) has been as ubiquitous off the screen as on. She was one of the presenters at the 82nd Academy Awards. She is one of nine “Hollywood Fresh Faces of 2010” featured on a recent Vanity Fair cover along with other up-and-coming actresses such as Kristen Stewart and Carey Mulligan.
Most eye-popping is a photo spread in the brand new Esquire, where Seyfried poses provocatively in black lingerie, in what appears to be a calculated tease for her kinky new movie.
Approaching the role of Chloe, Seyfried admits, was daunting. “I was worried that I was incapable of nailing it the way it was written,” she says. “It’s so realistic. And the way things happen are so unexpected. I’ve never seen that in a movie.”
Also participating at the roundtable is the film’s screenwriter, Erin Cassandra Wilson, who is fulsome in her praise for Seyfried, not just for her performance in the film, but for her physical beautiful. “The face is so insanely given to us by heaven,” she says. And indeed Seyfried in person, with her saucer-shaped blue eyes and bee-stung lips is as uniquely striking as she is on the screen,.
Wilson, who adapted the script from a 2003 French film, “Nathalie,” recalls Seyfried’s audition. Up against a number of well-known actresses, she got the part because she showed she “knows how to walk the line between good and bad. … Her soul was able to play two things at once.”
Seyfried’s steamy sex scene with Moore inevitably comes up. “No intimate love scene like that is going to be easy whether it’s with a man or a woman,” says Seyfried. “I think we got through it as best we could.” She praises Moore for her willingness to collaborate. “Julianne treated me like a peer and like a teammate,” she notes. “We had to discover something, a relationship--we had to work through it together. It was amazingly generous for someone like her, so established and so unbelievably intelligent, to be able to give me her respect.”
Seyfried shies from talk that that her career is at a new launch point. “I feel like that they’ve said that before about me, but mainly because I had a movie that won at the box office,” she declares. “When people say ‘I’m in the moment,’ how long does a moment last?”
Her popular February release, “Dear John”—in which she co-starred with Channing Tatum in a wistful modern-day wartime romance, has so far taken in $77 million at the box-office, triple its production costs. It was also the first film to knock “Avatar” off its No. 1 box-office perch. Though critics generally panned the film, Seyfried was singled out for praise in a number of reviews. A.O. Scott of the New York Times called her “a resourceful and engaging young actress industriously turning herself into a movie star.”
Looking forward, Seyfried has a platter of projects. She recently agreed to do a fourth season of HBO’s “Big Love,” which will be her last, playing the oldest daughter in a polygamous Mormon family. It’s considered to be her breakthrough role.
In “Letters to Juliet,” to be released in May she reverts to her sweetheart side, co-starring with Gale Garcia Bernal. Set in Italy, it’s a fanciful story about the discovery of a trove of letters from Juliet Capulet. “That’s more like me,” she notes. “Chloe isn’t me.”
Next up for Seyfried is a period piece comedy, “A Woman of No Importance,” based on an Oscar Wilde play, that also stars Annette Bening and is being directed by Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”).
Seyfried is meanwhile in late-stage negotiations to star in “Red Riding Hood,” another psychological thriller that Catherine Hardwicke, who did “Twilight,” is directly. And Seyfried says she has also been talking about a part in “Albert Nobbs,” based on Glenn Close’s Broadway hit about a 19th century woman who impersonates a man to survive. “Working with Glenn Close,” she says, “that would really be amazing.”