Movies

New film helps Amanda Seyfried come to terms with death

She overcomes anxieties playing sick person in The Art Of Racing In The Rain

From the team behind the 2008 doggy tearjerker Marley & Me comes the heartfelt new drama, The Art Of Racing In The Rain.

Milo Ventimiglia plays racecar driver Denny who is devoted to wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried) and dog Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). The couple start a family, but face a crisis when she is diagnosed with brain cancer.

Opening here tomorrow, The Art Of Racing In The Rain is directed by Simon Curtis (Goodbye Christopher Robin, My Week With Marilyn) and is based on the 2008 bestseller of the same name.

Seyfried, 33, who has a two-year-old girl with actor-husband Thomas Sadoski, talks about the film, her health anxieties and happy family while on set in Vancouver.

What was the film's appeal?

I read the book when it came out and was blown away. I was so excited they were making this film. I am obsessed with dogs and it is a beautiful story about family, a dog, love and connection. I have a kid now, so the stories I'm attracted to are a bit different.

I want to make movies about families and love and trust, about the beauty of life. The script looks at the dynamic changes when Eve is brought into Denny and Enzo's lives.

What can you say about Eve?

At the age Eve is when we meet her, still in her 20s, she has a real sense of confidence. It took me much longer to reach that kind of confidence and self-respect. It's a great role, because I love playing evolved characters.

Eve is also way more content than I used to be. I am very contented now, since the birth of my daughter. Motherhood changes everything for the better. I love being a mother.

Can you relate to Denny and Eve's close bond with Enzo?

I can relate because my 81/2-year-old dog Finn is the constant in my life; my rock. We have a thing together, a connection. He has known me all his life and I don't remember much about my life before him (laughs).

Denny and Enzo are a team when they meet Eve, and I can relate because I know what it was like for my husband when we got to know each other.

It was really important to me Finn loved him and vice versa. That part of the relationship can be tricky or wonderful, depending on the dog and the person. Of course, it worked out for us. It's just a really nice family.

What is it like playing a young woman with a serious illness?

It is challenging because I'm pretty sensitive and have some health anxieties myself. I get a bit obsessive about my health because I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and I'm very open about talking about that. I said to my husband, "I'm a little anxious about what it will feel like when Eve gets sick."

During the first week of shooting, I had terrible headaches. There is one scene when I find out I am sick. I am leaning over the sink, and at the time I was experiencing severe allergies and neck pain. Very early in the film, my husband said to Milo, "Make sure you tell her as many times as she needs to hear it that she does not have brain cancer."

Milo's like, "Got it dude, totally." So every once in a while, he'd be like, "You're fine," and I'd be like, 'Okay'."

Having played someone who was sick makes me so grateful I am healthy. I think it was actually cathartic to play somebody who is seriously ill because it is something I've been afraid of.

It is a touching story but uplifting at the same time, isn't it?

It is because the love doesn't go away. Death is something I want to come to terms with, which is why I like books about it.

I think this movie helped me. The best, I think, is when we go through it when we are young, with pets that die, because then we can understand we don't live forever. That is why I'm really glad that my daughter is growing up on a farm. She's going to deal with death and beauty.

At one point at the table read I was just crying and crying. Milo gave me his handkerchief. There I was at the table read with all these executives and I was literally soaking Milo's handkerchief. It was embarrassing, and I actually had to go to the bathroom and wash my face.

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