Amanda Seyfried's farm in the Catskills might seem like a world away from Hollywood – both the one of 2020 as well as the 1930s version seen in her new film “Mank” – but it also grounds the actress like nowhere else.
“You see these animals, they don't need much and they give so much without meaning to, and you can really put things in perspective a lot easier when you're surrounded by animals and people who work really hard,” says Seyfried, who just gave birth in September to her second child, a baby boy, with husband Thomas Sadoski. “It's harder to get your head stuck up your (butt) when you live on a farm.”
Seyfried, 35, stars in director David Fincher’s “Citizen Kane” origin tale “Mank” (in select theaters now, streaming on Netflix) – and is, for the first time in her career, seriously in the Oscar discussion. She plays real-life savvy starlet Marion Davies, the girlfriend of married media mogul William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) who strikes up a friendship with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman).
“The relationship that Marion had with Hearst was very real. She had a genuine love for him. It's hard for anybody to believe that that could be true because she was much younger and she was his mistress for years and years,” Seyfried says. “There was such a sweetness and such a good bond between them that never broke.”
Seyfried talks with USA TODAY about her latest role, awards recognition and COVID-19-era life on the farm:
Question: “Mank” finds Marion at a career crossroads, with the men around her wanting her to go one way in her career and she wants to go another direction. Do you find yourself connecting with that in a way?
Amanda Seyfried: Listen, there's always a game somehow. People will always push you to do things, for whatever reasons, (like) the benefits of doing a superhero movie. I mean, any agent wants their client to do a superhero movie, just for every reason: international success, box-office success, financial success. It's good for everybody, but it's not for everybody. You can carve a career out for yourself without doing those big tentpole movies.
You do have to push back to make it very clear what you're willing to do and what you're not, or else you'll just be forced into these genres that you don't want to do or these roles that you're not comfortable with. You just have to know what you want.
Q: Who knows what the upcoming Oscars will look like, but is the awards talk around you a cool prospect?
Seyfried: Yeah, it's really great. I haven't experienced this kind of discussion surrounding me and my performance ever. I've always skated through reviews. I've had luck with not getting anything totally horrible said about my performance, but it's always just been "Amanda Seyfried, who plays this character" or, you know, "She was fine." This is definitely out of the norm for me. I just want to keep working and I want people to respect me.
Q: Are you close to getting back to work yet or is it still too soon with the baby?
Seyfried: I don't know what I'm going to do next. The COVID protocols are great and they're in place, but this virus, it's so unpredictable and there's nothing I want to sink my teeth into yet. I would always rather be with my children, but there's also that need to work and I don't have that right now. I just want to be with him.
Q: What was that like having a baby during a pandemic?
Seyfried: The delivery process and being in the hospital is definitely different. There's this major threat, but it didn't feel that different for me. People are wearing masks and I'm not in that particular moment. That's really the only thing.
Living up here in a small town, I felt like it was good timing for us. It was definitely not planned, but the only difference for me was going to the doctor every week with a mask on and staying away from most people (laughs). That's the hardest part, not letting people hold your baby and come visit. My in-laws have not met their grandson. The physical part is not so bad; not being able to be together is hard.
Q: I have enjoyed the many farm animal pictures on your Instagram. Which one’s the hardest to photograph?
Seyfried: Brownie the goat because he's always moving. Animals don't follow commands. It's hard to get them to stand still and Brownie's always up in your business. He’s always trying to get really close to you because he likes when you scratch where his horns used to be.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Mank': Amanda Seyfried talks Oscar buzz, farm life with her new baby