Peter Sarsgaard is a Good Person


“First of all, we were partying until 3 am last night,” the filmmakers of Lovelace explained yesterday at the film’s Sundance press screening. “The film sold, we’re very happy. Some of us are a little hungover…”

It’s not uncommon for 9 am Sundance films to start off with such a caveat; director Frederik Bond said the same thing at the screening of his first feature,
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, the day before. But the film’s directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and stars Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard, were all present to answer questions.

is the first of two biopics of porn star turned activist and writer; another one, Inferno, is currently in production with Malin Ackerman as Linda and Matt Dillon as Chuck Traynor. Why all the interest in the life of a ’70s porn star?

“I think her story is really fascinating, it’s controversial,” said Seyfried about what attracted her to the role of Lovelace.

“It’s a great story. Linda embodies a moment in our culture—a moment we think of as a sexual revolution and segue into feminism,” added the filmmakers. “We thought of Linda as the first reality star; she became famous for her ‘special talent,’ and then she was just famous for being famous… the fame really took over and she had to really struggle to get her sense of identity back.”

“Great” might not be the best adjective to describe the life story of America’s first porn star. Famous for her role in
Deep Throat, which allegedly went on to make $600 million, Linda received only $1,250 from the film. It’s hard not to laugh at Deep Throat’s camp, ludicrous script, which contains lines like “having your clitoris in your throat is better than having no clitoris at all” and “if my balls were in my ears, I could hear myself coming.”

“The acting in Deep Throat is so bad—in such a wonderfully innocent, cute way,” laughed Seyfried. But then you find out that throughout her porn career, Lovelace was repeatedly beaten, held at gunpoint, prostituted to acquaintances, raped, gang-raped, and verbally abused by her husband and manager, Chuck Traynor. In the film, porn producers Jerry Damiano (played by Hank Azaria) and Butchie Peraino (Bobby Cannavale) reassure Traynor that “your girl is going to be a star and you own the product.”

At the Q&A, Peter Saarsgard, directly addressed his character’s persistant abuse and exploitation of Lovelace. “I have two little girls—I have a six-year-old and I have an eight-month-old girl—and this material is incredibly disturbing for me, and I don’t like playing [Chuck]. But obviously I needed to for some reason,” he remarked. “I had a lot of resistance to playing this role, it’s weirdly emotional for me. I didn’t want to do it at all, but I couldn’t let it go…I was just skulking around the house, going from room to room, sulking, thinking about it, going, ‘Why do people offer me these parts? I’m not like this. I’m such a good person!'”

“My resistance to playing this guy was in the performance,” Saarsgard continued. “I would come across scenes like, ‘he offers her up to be gang raped,’ and I’d be like: ‘This scene can’t happen! I wouldn’t do this! It’s horrible!’ I think sometimes that resistance will put you in the reality of what you’re doing.”