Amy Adam’s Team Revealed How They Physically Transformed Her to Play an Alcoholic in ‘Sharp Objects’

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects

Amy Adams stars as Camille in ‘Sharp Objects’ | HBO

You may know Amy Adams for her various roles in comedies, the DC Universe, and of course, Ella Enchanted. Adams is one of the highest-paid and successful actresses in Hollywood, so it only heightened expectations when she was cast as the star of the highly-anticipated HBO miniseries Sharp Objects.

While Adams has portrayed dark, challenged characters in the past, none can hold a candle to haunted Camille Preaker, the self-dubbed “trash that came from old money” with a serious drinking problem and a scarred body. Camille, a journalist assigned to report on the mysterious case of one teenage girl’s murder and another’s disappearance, appears gaunt and exhausted in nearly every scene.

Adam’s makeup artist Kate Biscoe told Cosmopolitan how she transformed the star from a healthy, fresh-faced actor into the protagonist we see on Sharp Objects. Plus, we uncovered how Adams trained emotionally and mentally to take on the challenging role.

Adams sat through three hours of prosthetic makeup

One crucial, plot-driving aspect of Camille’s appearance are the scars that cover every inch of her body. Adams had to gain weight for the part as well as sit through hours of prosthetic makeup to create the needle-stitched dictionary that is Camille’s body. As far as face makeup went, Biscoe revealed the inspiration for Camille’s day-to-day look. “We decided that she should always look like she’s wearing last night’s makeup and never takes it off. So, you know, wakes up with it on and maybe with some spit, wipes under her eyes and gets going. And then if she has to make herself more presentable, she digs into her pocket and just puts on more over what’s already there.”

To achieve the “functioning, or not-so-functioning, alcoholic look” as Biscoe dubbed it, she used one secret weapon: “Eyeliner … Smudged around with fingers, maybe with a little bit of water sprayed on top of it to let it get really soupy.”

An interesting caveat of shooting? There was no “beauty lighting,” which made Biscoe’s makeup design more important than ever. Director Jean-Marc Vallee doesn’t set up lights and shoots with a hand-held camera, Biscoe revealed. “And it’s HD, so what you see is what you get,” she said.

Adams adopted a sort of “anti-diet”

Biscoe revealed how Adams’ transformed herself to appear like an alcoholic. “You always read in magazines about how to get rid of puffiness … she just went the opposite way.” Adams ate sodium-filled foods, drank tons of coffee, purposefully stopped exercising, and, according to Biscoe, “certainly wasn’t getting enough sleep because she’s in every scene.”

Alcohol is a key source of “empty calories” and also the reason plenty of otherwise-healthy individuals can’t lose the last few pounds. While Adams didn’t drink on the job, she drank O’Doul’s Non-Alcoholic Beer while shooting to get in-character and inflame her skin.

“She was probably drinking 20 O’Doul’s per day; that was just gluten overload,” Biscoe said. “In reality, Amy has absolutely perfect skin and looks like she’s in her twenties.”

Adams used behind-the-scenes skincare treatments to counteract her “reverse dieting.” She used eye recovery masks, Burt’s Bees lip balm, and her favorite moisturizer (Eucerin Calming Daily Moisturizing Body Wash) to keep her skin as intact as possible despite the terrible diet and lack of exercise.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams | John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI

Adams prepared more than just her appearance to embody Camille Preaker’s inner darkness. She read A Bright Red Scream to learn about self-mutilation and Camille’s cutting, as well as researched other psychological conditions that played a role in the miniseries’ plot.

She coached herself to speak lower than usual (a whole octave, a Variety reporter disclosed) and used a slight southern drawl to indicate Camille’s return to Wind Gap, Missouri.

Past the metamorphic makeup and weight gain, there’s one other artist responsible for transforming Adams: the actor herself, who perfectly embodies the sheerly troubled and imperfect Camille Preaker.

‘Sharp Objects’ episodes air on HBO Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET

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