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Interview: The blonde ambition of Amanda Seyfried

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Amanda

Amanda

Wild Woman: Amanda Seyfried plays gold-digger Louise, MacFarlane’s flighty ex-girlfriend in A Million Ways to Die in the West

Wild Woman: Amanda Seyfried plays gold-digger Louise, MacFarlane’s flighty ex-girlfriend in A Million Ways to Die in the West

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried

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Amanda

Amanda Seyfried hungrily attacks a bag of popcorn before waving her hands over her chest. "People still ask me can I predict the weather with them," explains the star through crunching, gaping mouthfuls. She spits a large brown seed back into the foil bag. Who says actresses don't eat?

"Or at least they used to. It's probably more Mamma Mia now, but I still get it."

I ponder whether she can put her whole fist in her mouth too but quickly recall the scene in Mean Girls where Lindsay Lohan's Cady Heron actually stops Seyfried's Karen Smith right before she demonstrates the 'talent'.

The ten year anniversary for Tina Fey's exquisite portrayal of twisted high school machinations came and went a couple of weeks back.

It coincidentally fell on a Wednesday, the day on which The Plastics wear pink, according to Seyfried's Smith.

Amanda tweeted this immortal line and smugly reveals it received over 18,000 retweets. "I didn't even know I had that many followers," she maintains, immovably assured.

It's a marked contrast to the last time we spoke for Red Riding Hood.

A limp encounter, she invariably huffed and puffed, making little eye-contact and absolutely no attempts at a smile. Not even a smirk. Not even a miniscule facial contortion. Just an unceasing frown.

And while working the promotional juggernaut for a gothic fairy tale rejigging so disenchanting it could have laid blame on the day, Amanda was already known for her stand-offish demeanour.

Before that meeting, a colleague had issued his best wishes – a simple and pointed, 'good luck.'

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Three years later, the 28-year-old manages a smirk. Then a grin. Before we know it, there's laughter. Not side-splitting, but vocal mirth nonetheless.

For a character with a reputation for naturally stifling her emotions with a somewhat mechanical camouflage, it's a welcome sound.

Maybe it's a fallout from her latest film, A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Seth MacFarlane's chaotic comedy and his debut big screen appearance (well, in physical form anyway) gathers an impressive cast to bounce his deadpanned witticisms and wisecracks off – Liam Neeson; Charlize Theron; Sarah Silverman; Neil Patrick Harris.

And it gives the willowy beauty her first crack at comedy since Mean Girls, which could explain the surly disposition of before.

"People forgot about Mean Girls," she cracks, reaching the end of the popcorn pack. She scrunches it loudly and folds it between the base of her saucer and the coffee table.

"Within the industry, people forgot about it, for a while at least. And they forgot I could do comedy. Two or three romantic comedies after, they were like, 'Oh, she's not funny, she's a heroine,' which seems really glamorous but it's kind of like the short end of the stick for an actor.

"So you get pigeonholed, quite easily. When I have a chance to play somebody like the antagonist, or a bitch, or an idiot, I'd much rather do that."

She ticks two boxes as MacFarlane's idiotic wagon of an ex-girlfriend, who tosses aside his lamentable sheep farmer, Albert, for the slick pleasures of Neil Patrick Harris' moustachioed villain.

Enter Charlize Theron's scratch 'em and stuff 'em cowgirl, perfectly stunning and implausibly drawn to our overly verbose hero. Suddenly Albert looks all shiny and new again, and Seyfried's Louise wants him back.

Neeson angrily flits about as the meanest gun in the West while Silverman, for the first time in her noisy career, doesn't grate as a whoring hooker with conflicting Christian beliefs.

It all plays out quite similarly to an episode of MacFarlane's monstrously successful Family Guy. In fact, many of the gags and sequences feel like they are ripped directly from the animated series, with some failing to stand up against a translation into live action.

Middling quibbles aside, it's all at once stupidly clever, and entertaining. And as a loyal disciple of the Griffin clan and their Quahogian adventures, Amanda needed little persuasion to join the cast, despite any concerns of what she might be called upon to do, given MacFarlane's penchant for gross-out comedy teetering 'oh so close' to the lines of common decency.

"The thing about Seth is that most people trust him, so I came into this trusting him completely. The only healthy nerves I had were based on my performance and was I going to please him. But whatever, he wasn't going to make me eat bugs."

She spots the raising of my brow.

"Well, I wouldn't! I would go pretty far for him but I wouldn't do that. Also, he's incredibly scared of most things, just like I am. I think we can agree on a lot of that."

The Pennsylvanian is incredibly petite. Sitting in front of me in a netted, monochrome shirt and black short shorts, her legs resemble kindling - thin and twig-like.

Her blonde mane sits over one shoulder, her calling card. Swished regularly from side to side. And her eyes, those enormous blue-green eyes, consume the room.

MacFarlane rips the proverbial out of them several times in the film.

Her idea?

"His," she snorts, "and I wasn't offended at all. It's nice, it's funny. I don't take myself seriously [enough] to be offended by anything really. I don't know, there's so many things that he makes fun of me for but none of it hits home because he's not a bad guy."

Known and adored for some of his biting, relentless jibes against Hollywood's finest on Family Guy, has she ever been targeted?

"Nope! I'm not famous enough. I haven't done enough, I don't have an image."

After stand-up performances in Mamma Mia, In Time, Les Miserables and last year's sadly flawed Lovelace – her portrayal of classic porn actress Linda Lovelace not quite hitting the heights – surely there's some material there to mock and ridicule.

"Not yet at least, but it wouldn't bother me either way. There are a lot of people that are a little mad at him because he showcases them on Family Guy in not a great light and I think it's probably not personal.

"And it might not have been him, it might have been one of his many, many writers. And also think about it, you're relevant enough for Family Guy to mock you. You should be happy.

"Does he take it too far? Possibly but in my opinion, it's pretty safe, it's pretty tame. But then again I haven't been made fun of so maybe I would feel differently."

Her current squeeze of just under a year, floppy-haired actor Justin Long, felt the bite of Seth's ire, which is, oddly, news to Amanda.

"No, what does he say?" the actress eagerly enquires.

In an episode of the ninth series, three years ago, reference is made to the implausibility of Long's Hollywood career.

A character remarks – "Humans have the power to send a man to the moon and make Justin Long a movie star. America said no but we kept at it."

"Justin and Seth get along very well and I'm not even sure if Justin is aware of that. Thankfully he doesn't take himself seriously enough to care. Thank god. He's light, Justin is really light which is ... I'm so fucking lucky."

Smirks and laughs and popcorn wolfing and loving admissions about her boyfriend – Seyfried is noticably more relaxed and chilled than the Red Riding Hood affair.

There was one inkling of positivity from our last meeting I do recall, leaving me curious to double back.

Four years ago, she spent several weekends at the Kildare home of Damien Rice, writing and recording a track for the soundtrack of big budget weepy, Dear John. The end product never emerged because the project was never finished.

Amanda expressed her desire to complete the song. Did it ever come to pass?

"No, it didn't unfortunately but we have tried. There was one point where we were going to meet in Iceland because that was a convenient meeting point. I think it was while I was shooting Les Mis maybe but it never happened.

"I would love to go back to his home, it's really something special. Have you been?"

Strangely, the invitation has never been extended my way. And Damien and I don't know each other, oddly enough, just because we're both Irish.

"Well it's just beautiful and haven-like and really peaceful. It's something I really want to make happen. And there's actually a line in the song where it says, 'and I'm still waiting for...' something. But you know, waiting. I'm still waiting.

"I don't know," she claps her hands, sighing. "Maybe there's some things you're just always waiting for. And maybe that's not a bad thing."

A Million Ways to Die in the West is out now


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