'American Woman' Premiere: Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks on the Film's "Character Driven" Story
"To begin as one woman and end as another, to be able to explore that — it's the first time I really felt it was a complete process,” Miller told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's Wednesday night premiere in Los Angeles.
The modern depiction of an American woman, especially in the context of her family, has evolved from the static, one-dimensional American woman archetype of the mid-nineteenth century. That idea is something explored in James Scott's new film centered on a single mother in a suburban Pennsylvania town, who is left to raise her grandson and reexamine her life after her teenage daughter disappears with no explanation. Stars Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks and Scott discussed how the film explores a relatable "vulnerability" during Wednesday night's Los Angeles premiere of American Woman at the ArcLight Hollywood.
“It's certainly been missing for me, but to begin as one woman and end as another, to be able to explore that, we see that with men all the time in films. It's the first time I really felt it was a complete process,” Sienna Miller told The Hollywood Reporter about her character, Deb Callahan.
Scott explained that the film centers on the "fragility of vulnerability" and the various mistakes and flaws a woman can endure.
"The world we live in now is hard. A lot of people are really struggling and are less certain about the future than they used to be: money is a concern, functioning marriage is a concern, what your children are exposed to, how they grow," Scott explained. "This film deals with that: the fragility on [the] vulnerability of family and also its strength, and it deals with a woman's mistakes and her flaws, her own failings in an interesting way because you see it from her point of view."
Having a six-year-old daughter herself, Miller said her character's grief was something she felt she could immediately empathize with.
"We're different kind of parents, but I can understand what motherhood is. As a parent, I think you imagine what that must be like when you read about people who lose their children," Miller said. "It's devastating and crushing and so the grief aspect is very near to any parent, but she's not like me, and I loved her because she's flawed and sort of messy and trying, and I love the resilience of this woman."
For her role, Miller heavily dove into the experiences of families who have lost loved ones. "I remember speaking to someone and hearing their story, and I said, 'I just cannot imagine what that would be like,' and he said, 'you can and you have,'" Miller added. "It was this very succinct, very generous and grounded thing to say, and I knew exactly what he meant."
Even further than the narrative of losing of the child, American Woman focused heavily on Callahan’s growth as a person throughout the film.
"A lot of the things we were working with was the idea of how a person, in this case, a woman, conforms with ideas about who she has to be to a man. In fact, she gradually dismantles that and sheds that and becomes her true self," Scott said. "That’s what it was about: a journey into your own truth. It takes courage. She has to almost stand against her family at times."
Hendricks co-stars as Callahan’s sister, Katherine, who acts as constant support and a voice of reason for Deb.
"It was very easy to become Siena's sister," Hendricks said. "I thought the script was really human, and I think many actors love to dive into these kinds of character pieces where it's really about relationships and family and very character-driven rather than just plot, plot, plot, although it has that, too."
American Woman will be released in theaters June 14.