Amanda Seyfried on Chasing Dark Forces in Blumhouse’s ‘You Should Have Left’
Amanda Seyfried sits comfortably at home as social distancing remains the norm. It is almost ironic considering that the Blumhouse thriller the actor is headlining with Kevin Bacon, “You Should Have Left,” which is about a family trapped in a Welsh house with a stunning design but dark secrets. Seyfried plays Susanna, the young actor wife of a troubled older rich man named Theo (Bacon). With their young daughter Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex), the couple decides to rent the house as a getaway before Susanna has to begin shooting a new movie. But soon enough dark forces start intruding first in Theo’s mind with visions that begin to alter his sense of reality and then into the world of the entire family.
“There’s a lot of similarities between my character and me,” said Seyfried. “It’s almost about how I navigate through this world as a young actress. I’ve grown up a lot since I started but her character is a ‘yes person’ and I used to say ‘yes’ to everything. She’s a people pleaser. She can easily be taken advantage of. She’s also a mother and is wondering about doing love scenes and how to work in this industry.” In an early darkly comic scene, Theo arrives to the set where Susanna is shooting but is not on any guest list, so he has to stand by security listening to his wife shoot a sex scene. “It was super interesting because I can explore this so much on screen as much as in my life, almost to a dangerous place! I felt like it was blending into my real life. My real assistant is also my assistant in the movie. But that’s where the similarities stop. The real challenge then becomes exploring that train wreck of a marriage.”
The marriage itself is captured with a smoldering intensity where the plot does not need to depend on cheap scares but in the feeling terrifying emotions are preparing to explode. “Is he schizophrenic? I don’t know. Everyone in the story knows Theo is suffering from some kind of trauma and isolation. Mental illness makes you feel isolated. It’s about how it is so difficult for a family to deal with someone who is on another planet. His guilt is so massive that it’s clear the foundation in him is broken. You just hope no one in your life cracks that much where they can never come back, it would really fuck everything up.”
Seyfried has come a long way since her feature film debut in 2004’s iconic “Mean Girls.” Since then she has worked with major directors like David Lynch in his “Twin Peaks: The Return” and Paul Schrader for 2018’s powerful “First Reformed.” In “You Should Have Left” Seyfried works with writer/director David Koepp who is one of the most successful screenwriters in Hollywood but also a skilled filmmaker. “They know the story better than anybody. When you have a director and the writer on set they’re definitely very tight and sometimes work tandem. But here you have everything you need in one person and it’s such a vast amount of information coming from them and they know how to articulate it. Not to say directors can’t take what’s written and create the world they want to create. But here the intention behind the writing is directly feeding what the director conveys to you. And they’re so protective of it. Paul Schrader was so specific about what he wanted, very specific and I like that. Some people don’t like it, some actors just want freedom. But god, put me in a box and design that box. I just want to do exactly what they want. Not that I won’t input sometimes, but I want to give what they want. For the most part I trust them, especially Paul and David.”
“If you’re going to make one of these films definitely go there,” said Seyfried about shooting in the Welsh countryside. Much of the film is draped in clouds and greyness as Theo and Susanna feel the home slowly becoming a psychological prison. “You want that vibe. Although we had a sheep problem. There were thousands of sheep, you would want to laugh. We would see them and wonder, ‘what is this?’ But it’s so different from when you’re on a set or studio all day, which can get so boring. The best experiences also come from getting to know the local culture and getting to know that world you’re trying to capture. They were all good to us, Kevin, David and myself, and the sheep were very good to us.”
“You Should Have Left” premieres June 18 on VOD.