'Sharp Objects' Breakout Eliza Scanlen on First Major Role, Working With Amy Adams

"It’s pretty insane that one of my first roles [is this dark]. But the reception has been awesome," Scanlen tells The Hollywood Reporter of playing Amma in the HBO limited series.

The most vicious, blood-hungry killer of summer television came in the pint-sized package of an up-and-coming Australian teen actress on HBO’s Sharp Objects. Eliza Scanlen’s performance and venomous unraveling as Amma has created a huge stir as viewers come to terms with Sunday’s nail-biting finale. 

The actress, who had no major credits prior to being cast in the Southern gothic drama led by Amy Adams, is now ready to make her next mark on Hollywood with her upcoming role in Greta Gerwig’s directorial follow-up to Lady BirdLittle Women. Scanlen told The Hollywood Reporter that she is still adjusting to her newfound fame after recently graduating high school. 

“Every day, I have to pinch myself," says Scanlen. "Something new and weird happens literally every day. It’s strange and I’m very humbled by the whole thing."

Based on the debut novel by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects explores an emotionally and physically bruised journalist, Camille Preaker, searching for the answer to the recent murders of two young girls in her hometown. Scanlen plays Camille's estranged sister, Amma.

Scanlen revealed that Flynn didn't give her many notes on how to bring Amma to life, but the freeing process ultimately worked in her favor and allowed her to explore the character on her own terms.

"You can go so many different ways with Amma as a character," Scanlen says. "She is just so multifaceted. In a way, if you were to pigeonhole her into one direction, it would limit her as a character."

Holding her own alongside scene partners Adams, a five-time Oscar nominee, and her onscreen mother, played by two-time Emmy award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson, Scanlen navigated her character's cunning duality by focusing on Amma’s movement. 

“She’s kind of like a snake, that’s how I see it," she says. "Amma is always navigating herself in and out of situations without reaping the consequences."

Scanlen viewed the show’s evolving story as a deviation from the popularized dead-girl trope and loved that the content wasn’t shallow enough to hinge upon a tired plot point.

“It’s about something deeper and more internal than anything,” Scanlen says. “I really think it’s about the rise and fall of Camille Preaker and everyone else around her. In the end, that’s what people want to watch. They want to see relationships unfold onscreen.”

Watch the video above to hear Scanlen discuss her affinity for roller skating, how she is preparing for her role in Little Women and more.