Molly Matalon—The New York Times/Redux

When I lured Amanda Seyfried into Mank, her ability to be simultaneously knowing and warm opened that role to a (much) larger conversation than the script might have otherwise intimated. People may have thought of her as a rom-com-edienne, but she’s got a lot more going on under the hood. Including the rare ability to make one reassess one’s own imaginative shortcomings.

Watching her as Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout, one cannot help but realize: not only does this woman have an instrument, but she can play it. She chewed her nail beds over choices for that role—and after witnessing the results, I thought: I love it when people torment themselves to be great.

Acting is inherently silly, and she still has perspective on the circus of highly trained professionals all waiting for somebody else to repeat their text—in the right order. Clad in a one-off lamé gown, she would hoist its train about her waist, sling her shoes over her shoulder, and hike through ankle-deep mud to our next location—just ’cause it was faster than waiting for a golf cart. That’s a rare combo: the assiduous virtuoso.

It’s lovely to see her get these opportunities and watch her be recognized for how she (alone) can take us places we just hadn’t allowed her to before.

Fincher is an Oscar-nominated director

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