Amanda Seyfried makes movie leap from musical ingenue

Just six years ago, Amanda Seyfried was an Allentown, Pa., high school grad who longed to break into movies. Her dreams came true in a big way. "Mean Girls" (2004) put her on the map. "Alpha Dog" (2006) created buzz. And "Mamma Mia!" (2008) turned her into a household name.

During the last year, she's partied at the Golden Globes with Meryl Streep, performed on the Oscar telecast alongside Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, and been profiled in Allure, Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair.
Most significantly, she's snagged starring roles in a quartet of flicks, each with a ritzier pedigree than the last. Up first is "Jennifer's Body," a horror shocker with Megan Fox which opened Friday in area theaters. In February, Screen Gems is releasing "Dear John," a decade-spanning romance with Channing Tatum. Also arriving in the new year are "Chloe," an erotically-charged thriller co-starring Julianne Moore, and "Letters to Juliet," the saga of an American girl vacationing in Verona who sets out to reunite a pair of star-crossed lovers (Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero).

Unpretentious and friendly, Seyfried admits during a midnight phone interview from her folks' Allentown home how overwhelming instant success can be.
"I can't really believe it sometimes," she says. "There are so many opportunities and they just keep growing, but sometimes I worry when are they going to stop. But none of this would have been possible without "Mamma Mia!' That movie absolutely changed my life."

So popular was the Abba musical, it smashed records all over the world and, after picking up $600 million at the box-office, became the most successful songfest of all time, outgrossing "Chicago," "Cabaret" and "Grease." So far, Seyfried has done a good job keeping her feet on the ground. Self-deprecating almost to a fault, the actress jokes she's only tracked by the paparazzi if "they're having a slow day." As for Hollywood producers who promise her the moon and the stars, Seyfried says, "You can't actually take anything they say seriously. Half of them are full of (baloney)."
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Karyn Kusama, who directed Seyfried in "Jennifer's Body," isn't surprised by the actress' fast climb up the Hollywood ladder. "What's lovely about Amanda is she has this expressive face that can be very still. She has so much going on behind her eyes."

If Seyfried had been trying to find a film far removed from her "Mamma Mia!" ingenue role, she couldn't have done a better job than "Jennifer's Body." Written by "Juno" Oscar winner Diablo Cody, the flick stars Megan Fox as Jennifer, a satanically possessed cheerleader who begins feeding on the cute boys in her small Minnesota farming town. It's up to Jennifer's best friend Needy (Seyfried) to slay the beast and save boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons) from becoming a meaty snack.
"It's unique because it's woman's film, a slasher flick, a human comedy and a drama all rolled into one," says the 23-year-old Seyfried, who dates her "Mamma Mia!" co-star Dominic Cooper.
"Jennifer's Body" might be fun to watch but it was anything but fun to make. Seyfried was puked on (with paint substituting for black bile), submerged in cold water and bruised on the inside of her legs from straddling Fox's hips for two days straight. And then there was the already-infamous lesbian kiss between the stars. So, what was it like to smooch a sex bomb like Fox?
"It was a little strange," says Seyfried. "She's so feminine; she has such soft, nice, full lips. But she had the same smell as my sister."
Oddly enough, Seyfried has another same-sex make-out session in "Chloe," the saga of a doctor (Julianne Moore) who hires a prostitute (Seyfried) to test her husband's (Liam Neeson) fidelity, only to fall in love with the woman herself.
"I'm so proud of "Chloe,' " says Seyfried. "That's my pride and joy. It was such a difficult movie for me because there's a lot going on with my character. I just saw it and I don't know what the reaction is going to be, but I don't give a damn. It was the best experience for me."

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