Amanda Seyfried Talks 'Mank,' 'Mean Girls,' Working With David Fincher & The Benefits Of 100 Takes [Interview]

While actor Amanda Seyfried may be 35-years-old, if it seems like she’s been around forever, it’s because she’s been working in the industry for 22 years now. Starting in 1999 in the world of soap operas (“As the World Turns”), she quickly got noticed and by 2003, was already cast in “Mean Girls,” her debut feature-length film (the film would come out the next year).

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Her career has been extremely eclectic ever since, working in comedies, rom-coms, musicals (“Mama Mia,” “Dead John,” “Les Misérables!”), and more serious fare by working with filmmakers like Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”), Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”), Joe Wright (“Pan”) and Andrew Niccol (“Anon”). If there feels like little through-line to it all, Seyfried suggests most defined careers are a luxury, and hers has been “happenstance. I didn’t choose them. They chose me.”

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This may change soon with her supporting role in David Fincher’s “Mank” where she plays 1930s starlet Marion Davies. The actress seems poised for an Oscar nomination, which would be her first, but still sounds fortunate and humbled to be in this position.

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We spoke to her about working on “Mank,” working with David Fincher, the pros of working with an exacting filmmaker like this, his penchant for a lot of takes, and of course, the long-lasting legacy of “Mean Girls” which has surprised her and everyone involved.  Our conversation began with “Mean Girls” and Bernie Memes—following the inauguration, Bernie Sanders was photoshopped into Seyfried’s enduring teen comedy, went viral among many other images and perhaps, once again, demonstrated the testament to “Mean Girls” continuing power.

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Congratulations on going viral. I guess this is just more proof of the enduring legacy of “Mean Girls.”
[Laughs]. I didn’t get it until really until today. But yeah, Olivia Munn had posted [the meme], and I reposted it, and I was like, “oh my god, that’s really funny.” I realized that it’s just because of how he was sitting and his [high school] minions.  

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Did you ever think “Mean Girls” would endure like this?
It’s crazy. And I don’t think anybody, even people that wouldn’t have voted for [Bernie]; I don’t think anybody could dislike this man. I mean, who would’ve thought? So yeah, that was my first movie. So, I was just happy to be on set, but it really travels, right? It travels through time; kids who are 10 to 15 right now are watching it. They can relate to it, and it’s smart. You know they do those Entertainment Weekly reunions, and every time they do that, I go back and rewatch the movies. And some of them do not hold up, even though they’re considered cult classics. Some of them are just aren’t good. And I rewatched “Mean Girls” maybe this year. And there’s no; you can say anything about it. It’s perfection.

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It’s hard to argue that statement. It also possibly speaks to your taste because your career, to me, is very varied with comedy, musical, drama, it’s really versatile. And then perhaps your biggest role in “Mank.”
Yeah, well, both “Mean Girls” and “Mank” were happenstance. I didn’t choose them. They chose me. And that’s what happens when you’re in this position. When “Mean Girls” came along, I had never been in a movie before I had just done some soap operas, which are, are a very different medium. Never in a million years did I think I would be in a movie. And then there was. I was gifted that opportunity. And then it’s the same thing with “Mank.” You know, I try. When it is my choice, what I’m going to do next, my choices are very deliberate. I don’t just do movies for the sake of being bored or wanting a certain amount of money or wanting to be in a certain place. I don’t do anything by accident, but sometimes things choose you.

So, “Mank” just dropped out of the heavens, and here I am. I was like, “What do I have to do?” They’re like, “You’re going to meet with him on zoom after you read the script,” and I’m like, “Okay, how do I get him to want me to play this role?” [laughs]

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According to a recent interview, David Fincher said he messed up his pitch to you and was nervous that he botched the initial conversation.
Uh, yeah [laughs], that was not my experience. Like, please. Sure, however, he sees it in his head. He says he was rambling on for 45 minutes and spouting off, which is not true! He’s so incredibly smart. And he knows exactly what he wants to do and he’s really proud! He was really proud of this project, proud of the work that he’d done and proud of his father. When you have a master like David Fincher, who knows exactly what he’s doing when it comes to filmmaking, and you have him discussing something to you means so much to him in such a way, like— how could you not just bow down to that? You just want to jump in. Cause it’s like a warm bath.

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My experience of that conversation was just that he was talking for so long. I didn’t get a word in. And I was afraid that he was going to think I’m mute or uninterested. And I was afraid that he would read me the wrong way, because I didn’t have a chance to speak for a while. And I think maybe we were both anxious, but to see someone speak with such pride as is so attractive and by the end of the conversation— it was really long conversation—I had a lot of thoughts and feelings about the script and I had a lot of things to say about what he was talking about. I had many questions, and he gave me the space to air my opinions as if I were a peer. And it’s really nice to feel respected. When I finally was able to talk [laughs], I felt like there was a give and take there that existed, that we existed on the same plane.