HBO’s Enthralling Adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s “Sharp Objects” Novel, with Astonishing Amy Adams, Delves into the Heart of Darkness of Complex Women
Author Gillian Flynn continues to make an impact for women in Hollywood, writing stories about fictional female protagonists who have real, relatable issues — about the challenges of modern marriage in the filmed adaptation of her Gone Girl novel, which she calls a “grown-up movie.” And, now, her debut novel, the dark, gothic drama/murder mystery, Sharp Objects, has been adapted by HBO. Starring amazing Amy Adams — cue the Emmy and Golden Globe talk — superb Patricia Clarkson, and surprising newcomer Eliza Scanlen, Sharp Objects is a mesmerizing story about the violence that women inflict upon themselves, including self-harm, and on other women, be it psychological or otherwise. The arresting series features performances by seasoned actors like Amy Adams and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, that you’ve never seen done before. It quite simply is inspired TV.
Intriguing Gillian Flynn explains:
Q — How true is the series to your book?
A — It is very true to the book and sometimes when I was in the writers’ room with Marti Noxon. I was like, ‘Guys, we should try to shake things up a little bit.’ I didn’t really want to go off of the book but we did have the opportunity to grow certain characters, give them bigger roles. Then play with the town a little bit more, and see how, as a character, the town functions a little more.
Q — Series creator Noxon had said that women tend to internalize their hurt while men usually externalize it and turn it against other men.
A — I think it’s long been institutionalized to internalize one’s hurt for women. When I started to write this story, I felt there were eight million stories about men and their generational violence against each other and themselves. But stories didn’t exist about this generational violence for women. There wasn’t enough about what that looked like. About what women did to each other, to themselves, what violence breeds, the self-hurt and (different) aggression, what this actually looked like. So, I really wanted to write about that.
Q — How did you then bring those ideas to this small town Missouri?
A — I tend to set all my stories in small towns — here it’s fictional Wind Gap. Then for me if you want to start with a crime, start with the family and go up from there. And, like if you want to talk about violence, shrink it down to this little town and then you can shrink it down to the family within this town. If you want to talk about generational violence, well, you’ve got three generations within this one family under one roof.
Q — Could you further talk about these three generations — a mother, daughter and younger half-sister?
A — I wondered how violence would look like within a family and generationally what it looked like from one woman (Patricia Clarkson’s Adora), who grew up in the 50s where women were supposed to be nice and kind of caregivers and partners and docile. Then also what it looked like from someone from Gen-X — kind of my generation — where women were coming a little out from under the thumb but not entirely fully comfortable in that role. That’s Amy’s character, Camille. And, finally, Eliza Scanlen’s character Amma — from this younger social media generation that’s posting everything online.
Q — And in a small town, the hierarchy is more evident, right?
A — Exactly. You battle for your hierarchy much more harshly and unforgivingly within a small town. You’re much more unforgiving about that and I think it works very well as a microcosm of what women deal with, even now, with the “MeToo” movement. Why didn’t women say if they saw women below them in a company being abused? Well, because there was only so much room at this level and they didn’t want to lose it. Well, that’s so easy to see at this small town and visible.
Q — Did you base this story on your experiences or own imagination?
A — [Laughs] It’s all from this twisted little brain! It’s always imagination with me. But certainly I’ve experienced some of those feelings. Actually I came from a really loving family. I don’t have a mom thing and I’m really close to my parents. I just I just had other stuff going on. So I really poured a lot of that angst out into Camille. I was lucky that Amy Adams had sturdy enough shoulders to bear that.
Q — Where did your tortured protagonist Camille come from?
A — I knew her, she’s like me. I’m not a self-cutter, but I have a real affinity for self-destruction and I always have. And, I think a lot of women do. But, I think a lot of women deal with a fondness for self-annihilation or wish for it. I mean it’s not like complete suicidal thoughts, but skirting with them and I certainly did for a long time. I just knew her. She has a line dear to me, something like: “It’s not enough that I don’t want to exist. I want to never have existed.” And that was like I felt for a long time. I also like that Camille was someone who’d never outgrown her reputation from this town. I think that’s always particularly damaging for someone to never be able to outgrow what happened to them or what they did from when they are a child.
Q — Do you see more of an appetite in Hollywood for layered and flawed female heroines?
A — I think there definitely is. When I was thinking of writing this kind of book with this kind of character that for women that didn’t exist, no one wanted the book. And, then we had so much trouble selling it. They said, ‘Men don’t like to read books about women, frankly’ — this was 10 years ago — ‘And women don’t like to read books about women they can’t root for, women who aren’t good and women who aren’t heroic and don’t get them like a happy ending,’ And I think that’s changed, hopefully, almost gone. You know, I’m so proud of Gone Girl the movie because it shows that men and women will see an R-rated film. Also, it’s like bring back grown-up movies — if I have to watch one more f••king Thor film!
Sharp Objects premieres as a limited series on HBO/HBO Canada, July 08 at 9pm.