HFPA in Conversation: The Eclectic Amy Seimetz

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros April 3, 2019
actress Amy Seimetz

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Amy Seimetz considers herself lucky- as an actress, writer, director and producer she can cathartically exorcize some of her demons. “Even in Pet Sematary or any of the horror work or genre work that I’ve done, there is the catharsis to exercising your existential dread.  I have lived through enough trauma that I don’t really have to pretend to have gone through some of these things,” she tells to HFPA journalist Brent Simon.

Pet Sematary is based on Stephen King’s novel.  The horror thriller follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home.  In her other movie, biographical comedy Wild Nights with Emily, she plays Emily Dickinson’s brother's mistress.

“I did that with Molly Shannon and Madeleine Olnek, who directed it.  She gave me so much reading material because she had uncovered this narrative that we don’t know about Emily Dickinson.  She uncovered through all this research with Harvard that Emily actually had a lesbian relationship with her sister-in-law.  There’s all these books and stuff that she sent me that I was reading.  My character is basically the reason that we know who Emily Dickinson is but she also spun the story of her being this lonely, recluse spinster.”

Seimetz studied English literature and art history and became fascinated with character pieces. “I’ve always loved that personal relationship that you’d have with a novel, living with these characters in a personal way for so long when you read a book.  That’s why I became fascinated with character pieces.  I start with the character because once I nail the character down or I understand the character that I’m trying to write or even perform, all of the other plot points sort of fall into place.”

After graduation, she started to make her own films. “I got into a lot of debt. But when I was making films I was finding my voice.”

Her home state of Florida affected her artistic views. “I find it very eccentric and more inspiring than New York or Los Angeles.  I didn’t realize that Florida was strange to grow up until I was older and left but now I realize it was.”

Listen to the podcast to hear why she feels that each new film is like the first day of school; what are her parents doing; what was her reaction when she read the script for Upstream Color; how she describes her childhood home; what was it like working with Kentucker Audley and Kate Lyn Sheil; how she ended up starring in the movie Silver Bullets;  why film festivals are important for her; what has been one of the hardest things in her life; how she processed her fear of death; why she is more at ease with auditioning now than before; what kind of conversations she had when she did the TV series The Girlfriend Experience; in which movie she dies first; what makes her laugh; and when did she work with Barry Jenkins.