Amanda Seyfried sees herself in Marion Davies in ‘Mank’

Amanda Seyfried in the film "Mank."
Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies in “Mank.”

Hello! I’m Mark Olsen and welcome to the newsletter companion to “The Envelope: The Podcast,” where my cohost Yvonne Villarreal and I bring you highlights from each week’s episode.

The precursor awards keep rolling in, as this past weekend both the Directors Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts held their ceremonies. “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became only the second woman, and the first woman of color, to win the top prize at the DGA. Other movie awards went to Darius Marder, recognized as a first-time director for “Sound of Metal,” and Gregory Kershaw and Michael Dweck for the documentary “The Truffle Hunters.”

On the TV side, Lesli Linka Glatter won the dramatic prize for an episode of “Homeland,” Susanna Fogel won the comedy honor for an episode of “The Flight Attendant” and Scott Frank was recognized for an episode of “The Queen’s Gambit.”

At the BAFTAs, “Nomadland” won four prizes, including best picture, director and lead actress for Frances McDormand. Also recognized were “Promising Young Woman” for original screenplay and best British film, Anthony Hopkins for lead actor in “The Father,” Daniel Kaluuya for supporting actor in “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Yuh-Jung Youn for supporting actress in “Minari.”


Actress Amanda Seyfried.
Actress Amanda Seyfried at her farmhouse in Stone Ridge, N.Y.
(Michael Nagle / For The Times)

This week’s interview is with actress Amanda Seyfried, nominated for an Oscar for her role in the movie “Mank.” As actress Marion Davies, Seyfried captures a fizzy screwball energy undercut by a sense of melancholy and disappointment with the world. Davies finds herself caught between her friend, irascible screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, and her boyfriend, powerful newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. When Mankiewicz draws from her relationship with Hearst for his screenplay that will become “Citizen Kane,” Davies may finally be forced to choose sides.

Seyfried is a a show-biz veteran at age 35, having been in movies since her teens, including “Mean Girls,” “Les Misérables,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Jennifer’s Body” and “While We’re Young.”

The actress spoke candidly about working with director David Fincher on “Mank” and also about how she came to feel a true affinity for Davies, in particular the way the light comedies she excelled in caused many to underestimate her.

As Seyfried said, “It’s such a tight rope to play somebody like her. And that was one of my fears in the beginning of this whole thing: ‘Am I gonna fit into the ‘30s? Am I too contemporary as an actor? Do I move my face too much, like people have said? I’m very animated … does that distract?’ Or whatever. And all the things that make me me can serve me well if utilized correctly. And I don’t even know what I used at this point — like I shed most of me for this role.”

Thanks for reading/listening/subscribing. We have lots more conversations to come, including talks with Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman,” Cynthia Erivo for “Genius: Aretha” and Kate Winslet for “Mare of Easttown.”

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