When you look at her acting CV, it’s hard to believe Amanda Seyfried is not even 30. As well as five seasons of hit TV show Big Love, her impressive resumé boasts two smash-hit musicals (Mamma Mia and Les Misérables), weepy Nicholas Sparks adaptation Dear John and last year’s indie hit While We’re Young, to name but a few. At just 29 she’s already a Hollywood veteran, having been launched to stardom in her teens, playing ditsy teen Karen in cult favourite Mean Girls, and she’s since proven her acting chops in everything from small independent films to big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, and from comedies and musicals to creepy thrillers.
As she nears her milestone 30th birthday this December, Amanda is now firmly at the top of every casting director’s wish list. Next up, she’s starring in frat-boy comedy Ted 2 and a new imagining of Peter Pan, Pan.
There are also a whopping four movies in the pipeline: time-lapse drama Fathers & Daughters, opposite Russell Crowe; ensemble comedy Love the Coopers with John Goodman and Diane Keaton; upcoming indie road trip movie Young Americans, co-starring Daniel Radcliffe, and a biopic of pioneer photographer Eadweard Muybridge, Flying Horse, alongside Oscar-bait Benedict Cumberbatch and Gary Oldman. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she’s just made her stage debut in Neil LaBute’s off-Broadway play The Way We Get By.
Making her own luck
However, the star modestly insists her stratospheric success is less to do with clever role choices and more to do with good fortune and a titanium-strength work ethic. “The truth is, there is only so much control that I have. It’s hard to turn things down, because it’s in me to want to always be working,” she says. Adding, “But it’s the choices and the breaks that separate you from the rest, I think.”
She admits to having workaholic tendencies – a fact she had to face up to when she booked some much-needed downtime recently. “I am most scared of being bored. I was at a resort, and I thought, I should be loving this – but I wasn’t getting anything done, and that terrified me. When I feel like I’m not accomplishing something, I feel like I failed the day. I guess I missed work.”
The truth is, Amanda has been working pretty much constantly for 18 years – she began modelling at 11 and started acting in daytime soaps in her teens. Some of her formative experiences were on sets – like her fist kiss. “I met my first boyfriend on a soap opera. We kissed for the first time on the show. It was like a fairy tale. When you’re young, it’s hard not to get together with your co-star. It’s not always the greatest idea, but the experience of making a TV show or a movie is so intimate and romantic. And I love acting like I’m in love!”
After acting solidly for over a decade, it was the 2012 musical Les Misérables that thrust Amanda to international stardom. “It may be that I’m older, and it may be that social media is everywhere now. I don’t think I was really famous until [then] – and I felt like no one paid much attention to what I was doing. That was good. But Les Mis was an international hit, and that changed things.”
Child star grows up
However, her early introduction to showbiz has not equipped her with the bratty confidence normally associated with child stars. In fact, she admits to suffering from anxiety. “I have a lot of anxiety that I’ve been struggling with my whole life,” she says. “So I have been working through it. I’m terrified, but this is exactly what I wanted.”
Her anxiety has been so severe that she’s suffered crippling panic attacks in the past. “It feels like you’re going to die. There’s nothing scarier.” And her recent stage debut brought a new level of anxiety as it was the first time she had acted in front of a live audience. “There’s a layer of insecurity that this brings out, of course, but I am trying to throw it away,” she says. “Although I can’t, really, because insecurity, a little bit of it, is always important for any actor.”
As she approaches 30, she claims she has finally shaken off the demons of her child-star past. “I have to behave like a grown-up. And as hard as it is… I realise it’s the only way to be, it’s the only direction. It’s the only way your life is going to work, you have to be mature, and you have to make mature decisions and you have to think of other people, and you have to be responsible. And you know what? My life is better for it.”
Her new mature outlook has brought with it a proper grown-up relationship. After a string of failed romances – most notably with her Mamma Mia co-star Dominic Cooper and Ryan Phillippe – she’s settled down with actor Justin Long, whom she met via Instagram. “I really do have my own identity, both inside and outside the relationship, if that makes any sense. It just feels right. It’s also really good to feel OK being alone.”
In between acting gigs, the couple enjoy cosy domesticity with Amanda’s adored golden-brown Australian shepherd, Finn, on her recently acquired farm in Stone Ridge, New York. She’d love to spend more time at the farmhouse, she admits, and can even see herself bringing up a family there, “because I want to have kids. And I want them to go to local schools, and there are some really good schools [there]”. She adds, “I’d like my life to be the same as it is now, but with a little less stress and a little less work.”
However, even her beloved pooch Finn can be a source of worry for the star, especially as her busy schedule keeps her away from him. “I just don’t want to leave him any more,” she says. “Maybe it’s because I’m subconsciously aware of his mortality. I try not to think about it, but somewhere inside of me, I’m like, he’s going to die way sooner than all the rest of the people I know!”
In fact, Finn is getting his own taste of fame and has something of an international following. “When I landed in Korea recently, there were people holding up pictures of Finn. In the past year, people just learned how to pronounce my last name correctly (Sigh-fred), but they all know everything about my dog.”
She may have Michelle Pfieffer-esque looks with huge eyes, plump lips and alabaster skin, but she’s more at home on the farm in jeans and no make-up than she is posing on the red carpet – not that she is immune to the lure of couture. “I don’t love the red carpet, because it’s loud and unnatural, but I do still get excited when I put on the chosen dress for the evening, because I feel confident. Fashion can do that to you. I have a great relationship with Givenchy. I basically will wear whatever Riccardo [Tisci] designs because it’s always interesting.”
Looking back on her defining red carpet moments, she cites the London premiere of Mamma Mia as a show-stopper. “It was the world premiere of the one project that was going to change my life. I was wearing Miu Miu, and I needed to look amazing…”
However, she remains acutely aware of the superficiality of Hollywood, and life behind the velvet rope holds little appeal for the down-to-earth star. “Maybe people [in Hollywood] wear really nice clothes, and they drive really nice cars – but that doesn’t make me comfortable. And if I’m not comfortable, it won’t be a part of my life. There’s something empty about having your own VIP booth, and people staring at you.”
Body image in Hollywood It’s clear that Amanda is not after a goldfish-bowl, Kardashian-level of fame – especially as she has struggled with body confidence. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t constantly aware of what I’m doing with my body,” she says. “I don’t have to look like a supermodel. I don’t have to have those abs – the camera doesn’t see that. But because we have all been designed to want these things, I’m a victim of this stuff, too.”
Still, she refuses to conform to some stick-thin Hollywood ideal (recently taking to Twitter to reveal she almost lost out on some roles because she was deemed overweight) and hails the advent of acceptance of all body shapes, a positive change embodied by curvy US model and actress Kate Upton. “Thank goodness for Kate Upton. She’s a supermodel, she has curves. She’s the new image of beauty.”
Not that Amanda has any regrets about her chosen career – despite the pitfalls of fame. “Acting kind of bit me in the butt. On Big Love, I realised that I didn’t want to lose this thing that I had stumbled into. Now, I’m at the mercy of my calling. I was lucky back then and a little naive. Now I’m addicted. Addicted and scared but never bored. I get to be other people all the time, and there is nothing dull about that.”
Red carpet style
Amanda’s ultimate style moment was wearing this Miu Miu green dress for the premiere of Mamma Mia, and she says she will wear almost anything by Givenchy designer Tisci Riccardo.
From Mamma Mia to Les Misérables and Mean Girls, Amanda Seyfried has been in her fair share of smash-hit movies.
Having been through a string of failed romances with the likes of Ryan Phillippe and Mamma Mia co-star Dominic Cooper, Amanda is now loved up with another actor, Justin Long, whom she fell for after following him on Instagram. The couple love nothing more than taking her Australian shepherd dog, Finn, for walks.