Though Patricia Clarkson takes on one of her darkest roles yet in HBO miniseries “Sharp Objects,” she still sees a bright light in the character as an empowered leading woman.

As Adora Crellin, the manipulative and abusive mother to Amy Adams‘ character in the show, Clarkson said it was a challenge “just keeping upright, not losing yourself, being able to walk away at the end of the day from this. But also making sure that in the complexity, there is some ounce of pathos and humor and humanity, as dark as things get and as brutal as these characters are to each other at times, they’re human at the end of the day and they’re broken.”

At the Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday night, Clarkson also told Variety that even through the show’s very dark themes, dealing with murder, addiction, abuse, mental illness, and self-harm, “the great thing about this story is it’s three women. It’s a mother and two daughters leading this brigade, its led by women and we’re always winning as women when we lead the stories. We’ve supported for years, god knows I have. When we’re leading in a story, we’re way ahead.” 

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Sharp Objects,” based on Gillian Flynn‘s 2006 novel, follows Camille Preaker, played by Adams, a journalist who returns to her hometown to report on a series of murders and is forced to confront her own past. Flynn adapted her hit “Gone Girl” for the big screen in 2014, and she has taken what she learned with that film and applied it to her small-screen debut.

“It was to make sure to keep the inherent darkness, to make sure to not lose any of the dark stuff or tone it down,” Flynn said of her “Gone Girl” takeaways. “Working with [‘Gone Girl’ director] David Fincher definitely taught me that, never worry about toning anything down or losing the audience, trust the audience to step up to your material.”

The author, who co-wrote the miniseries’ script and served as an executive producer, added that despite the heavy subject matter, she wants people to “take comfort from it. Camille is someone who has undergone a lot of psychological pain. Out of all of the characters I’ve created, Camille is the one people seek me out to talk about the most. I think people really connect with her and really root for her.”

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As for creator Marti Noxon, she said taking on the story’s dark tone was “kind of a relief. I had so much bottled up, frustration and anger over so many things, because I’d been working on ‘Girlfriend’s Guide for Divorce’ for a long time. That show wears its topical nature with heels and a martini and its hand, so it’s always a little bit lighter and it was good just to be able to let loose and scream onto the page.”

Stars Adams, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Messina and Elizabeth Perkins, along with director Jean-Marc Vallee, were also on hand at the premiere, held at Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome.