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For seven years, different movie scripts about the Deep Throat actress Linda Lovelace circulated in Hollywood. Lindsay Lohan, Anna Faris, Olivia Wilde and Kate Hudson were all interested in the role at various times but all either pulled out, concerned about the nudity and brutality, or were dropped, leading to whispers that the project was cursed.
Some agents reportedly wouldn’t even show the scripts to their clients for fear they would accept the role and it would damage their careers.
But Amanda Seyfried, the perky American blonde who found fame as the star-struck Sophie in the film version of Mamma Mia!, has gone where others feared to tread: for three months she filmed Lovelace, immersing herself totally in the tragically troubled life of the actress who became the world’s first erotic superstar after famously starring in Deep Throat, the 1972 hardcore porn film that broke box-office records and became a cultural sensation.
When I talked with 26-year-old Seyfried a week after she wrapped her final scene, she was still recovering from her walk on the dark side and was, she says, “detoxing”. Talk of a curse doesn’t bother her, although she says: “I’m in a daze. It’s weird. It was a really challenging role and I don’t know how it’s going to go for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to play a real-life character and I took the experience home with me every night. It’s a really troubled story and I’m still getting over it.”
She is wearing a grey leather jacket and her shoulder-length hair is back to its natural blonde after going dark for the film. With her cherubic smile, Seyfried is not the first actress who springs to mind to portray Linda Lovelace, who lived a life of abuse and trauma. The porn star claimed in one of her autobiographies that her marriage to Chuck Traynor had been plagued by violence, rape, forced prostitution and private pornography. Following Deep Throat, she made two more movies and then denounced her pornography career, claiming she had been forced into it by Traynor (portrayed in the movie by Peter Sarsgaard) and for a while became a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement. She died, aged 53, in 2002 from car crash injuries.
Lovelace also features Adam Brody as Lovelace’s Deep Throat co-star Harry Reems, Sarah Jessica Parker as Gloria Steinem and James Franco as Hugh Hefner. To prepare for her role, Seyfried read Lovelace’s autobiographies, watched her movies and talked to people in the pornography industry.
“It’s a huge responsibility to be the voice of somebody else, and it was very difficult because what she had to go through was so dark,” she says. “She was physically, verbally and sexually abused and it made for a very strange dynamic between her and her husband, who was also her captor. Her life was ruined by what happened to her.“There was so much material available to me, which made it less daunting, but it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”Amanda Seyfried’s career has been on a sharp upward curve ever since Mamma Mia! She has a thriller, Gone, due out shortly, in which she plays a girl who sets out to find the serial killer who has kidnapped her sister; and next month she goes to New Orleans to join up with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe for the film version of Les Misérables, in which she plays Cosette.“I was playing Cosette in recitals when I was 15, because I used to sing classical music, and now I’m actually going to play her – it’s a dream for me,” she says. “Getting back into singing has been tough, but awesome, too, because I haven’t lost what I had when I was 15; it’s only got better, so that’s a plus.“It’s so different going from Linda Lovelace, a porn-star-turned-feminist with a New York accent, to an 18-year-old Englishwoman – well, French actually, but I’ll be doing an English accent – so it’s going to be hard.”After Mamma Mia!, Seyfried became deeply involved with her British co-star Dominic Cooper. He ended his 12-year relationship with girlfriend Joanna Carocan and she broke up with actor Micah Alberti so they could be together.But their romance foundered after two years. “I got my heart broken pretty hard,” she says. “It changes you a little bit every time you either break someone’s heart or get your heart broken.”Seyfried began her acting career at the age of nine in her home town of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and modelled from the age of 11 until she was 17, at the same time taking voice lessons, studying opera and training with a Broadway coach.The following year she moved to Los Angeles and landed a recurring role in the soap opera All My Children and then made her movie debut in Mean Girls alongside Lindsay Lohan. When she is not on location, she lives in West Hollywood in a house she shares with her older sister Jennifer, a rock musician.“It’s nice to have her around,” says Amanda. “I’ve gone all over the world and got to travel and do these extraordinary things, but I’m still coming home to my sister and her cat and my dog every day.”Another film about Linda Lovelace, called Inferno, is about to go into production with Malin Akerman as Lovelace and Matt Dillon as Traynor, so she knows that the success or failure of Lovelace lies with her performance.“The responsibility is huge, but I feel this is the beginning of something else and a new direction for me,” she says. ’Gone’ opens on April 20. ‘Lovelace’ is out later this year