As reporter Camille Parker in HBO’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel “Sharp Objects,” Amy Adams had to dive into a troubled protagonist who struggles with addiction, anxiety, and self-harm.
“One of the things that’s been really nice — and this is very much due to everybody involved — is that the reactions [have been that] it’s of an accurate telling of female trauma. And that felt very validating to me because it isn’t explored as often. We often make females the victims, but in this, Camille is very active,” Adams said at a panel for the show during HBO’s Television Critics Association tour on Wednesday.
Adams said she doesn’t intentionally look for a specific theme for the roles she accepts, but she admitted that in reflecting on her body of work, she feels “like I’m working out my own junk, so to speak, through work.”
As long as the character “has a strong voice” and feels “new and unique” from what she has done before, she is open to it. What attracted her to Camille, specifically, was that she “hadn’t seen this particular hero from a woman” before.
But Adams also acknowledged that the role came with its own challenges — both emotional and physical.
Because Camille is a character that suffers so greatly, Adams said she experienced bouts of insomnia while working on “Sharp Objects.” She would wake up at four in the morning and have “insane conversations with myself” in which she had to separate what anxieties were hers and what belonged to Camille.
On the physical side, it took three hours each day to apply Camille’s scars. A combination of “silicone and glue,” she shared, “the minute you put clothes on, it would start to get crazy.” Things would stick to the scars, and sometimes she would have to peel them off. While the artist who created them took care to design them differently for various kinds of lighting, the post-production team still put finishing touches on them for further realism.
One area where Camille’s life doesn’t perfectly match up to reality, though, is in her job as a reporter. She is sent back to her hometown to cover a missing child that turns into a murder investigation, but Flynn shared that more important than the “really cool, amazing mystery” that she is involved in, is the “character study.”
“I wrote ‘Sharp Objects’ because I loved Camille and because I wanted to tell the story of generational violence among women and I didn’t think the story had been out there that much,” Flynn said. “I wrapped it [in] the town and these murders, but I didn’t want the story of what Camille and her mom and her sister meant to each other and did to each other to get lost.”