Sharp Objects Brings Women’s Stories to the Forefront
BY OLIVIA ARMSTRONG
At the L.A. premiere, Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson explained why the limited series will resonate with audiences.
At the Los Angeles premiere of Sharp Objects, writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) was ecstatic her “first born” had finally made it to the screen. The limited series, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Big Little Lies), is based on Flynn’s 2006 debut novel and follows Camille Preaker (played by Amy Adams), a reporter who returns to her small, Missouri hometown to investigate a string of unsolved child murders. The case and its proximity to Camille’s steely mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson) and mysterious half-sister Amma (Eliza Scanlen), bring Camille’s old wounds to the surface.
“Of all the characters I’ve created over the years, Camille is the one people seek me out to discuss,” she said. “It’s been so nice to allow this character study spread out over eight episodes and really let it breathe.”
Showrunner Marti Noxon, who wrote scripts alongside Flynn, was attracted to both the whodunnit elements of the book and the story’s broader commentary. “It’s a great murder mystery but it also has so much to say about compassion,” said Noxon, whose self-proclaimed “self-harm trilogy” (Netflix’s To the Bone, AMC’s Dietland and now, Sharp Objects) is redefining how the female experience is depicted on screen. “I really hope these stories help people walk in someone else’s shoes,” she posited. “If you can create a little bit of compassion for someone, you see the world differently. You just can’t be as mean.”
Initially drawn to Camille’s complexity, Amy Adams wanted to see a subject that affects women every day. “Gillian has a wonderful way of telling female stories of generational violence that are so familiar to women yet not told very often,” she said. Adams, who earned her first executive producer credit on the limited series, had a hand in how the adaptation came to fruition. “Being a producer allowed me to have agency in casting and decision-making along the way,” she reflected. “It really was a great education for me.”
Patricia Clarkson (Six Feet Under), who plays town matriarch Adora Crellin, appreciated the challenge of playing someone so complex: “Playing Adora taught me that I can do anything.” Without spoiling any plot points, Clarkson had a message for those tuning in: “I hope audiences learn the importance of acknowledging the relationship you have with your parents… and the truth of it.”
Newcomer Eliza Scanlen had thoughts about what sets her rebellious character, Amma, apart from other young women on TV. “Amma has a dual personality, so being able to switch between the two was a challenge — and taught me a lot as a person.” In addition to the series’ portrayal of familial violence, Scanlen wants audiences to keep mental health in mind. “It’s a really important conversation to have and continue because everyone deals with it in one way or another,” she said. “I hope people can see the trauma this family has experienced generationally and are able to relate.”
Sharp Objects premieres July 8 at 9 pm on HBO.