We’re assuming by now, five episodes in, HBO’s Sharp Objects has you trembling with fear and anticipation, as you await the next chapter of the limited series each Sunday night. The Amy Adams led adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel is equal parts gripping crime thriller and heartbreaking exploration of a woman deeply troubled by her childhood and her battle with alcoholism.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the show is its handling of children – particularly the three young roller-skating party girls at the plot’s center. Eliza Scanlen plays 13-year-old Amma, the younger sister of Adams’ Camille Preaker. In the most recent episode, we saw her popping pills on stage with her two cronies, played by real-life sisters Violet and April Brinson.
We’ve seen their backlit silhouettes gliding down the nighttime country roads of Wind Gap, Missouri all season, their miniskirts fluttering as a psychopathic killer of young girls remains on the loose. As the show progresses toward its sure-to-be grisly conclusion, we couldn’t help but wonder: what’s it like on set in the deep south (Barnesville, GA), alongside a somber Amy Adams, a sinister Patricia Clarkson (playing Camille and Amma’s cold-hearted mother), and several fake corpses?
Who better to answer that question than the true flies on the wall: the Brinson sisters, who watched the show unfold from the comfort of their roller skates.
Walk me through the casting process – how did your audition(s) go?
Violet Brinson: Well, before we even got in the room with casting, we had to submit a roller-skating video. April and I filmed separate videos that we sent to casting. It was really funny because they called up April’s agents and asked them if April had a sister, and her agents didn’t know, so they said she didn’t. Then casting called again asking if she had a cousin or something, because our last names are the same and our videos look very similar. April’s agents called our mom and finally asked whether or not she had a sister or cousin auditioning and my mom confirmed that, yes, April has a sister that is also auditioning. Everyone got a good laugh out of this. After we read for casting the next step was the director’s session with Jean-Marc Vallée. At first, it was a bit bittersweet because we were both going in for the same role. We really had to channel our inner Serena and Venus Williams (sister goals). We were so thrilled when we both got cast!
Had you read the book before coming in?
April Brinson: As soon as I found out I was going to be reading with casting I read the book. I loved it and became attached to the characters and story almost instantly. I had previously read Gone Girl, so I was already a fan of Gillian.
How familiar were you with Amy Adams, Jean-Marc, and Patricia Clarkson before signing on?
Violet: Oh my gosh! I knew exactly who all three of them were! I’ve seen Dallas Buyers Club and Wild and Demolition and they are some of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve grown up watching Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. They are such successful and talented actresses, who I have looked up to since I was young. Being on set with them was so surreal.
April: I had seen almost every project each of them had worked on. I had grown up looking up to them. While I was going through the auditioning process, Big Little Lies was being released and I was obsessed. So I couldn’t help but be thrilled to work on Jean Marc’s next HBO series.
What were your feelings toward your fellow cast members going in versus how you feel about them now?
Violet: I was terrified! Going onto a set with such extraordinary artists who have been my idols was very nerve-wracking. But they were all so welcoming and so warm. They really put me at ease and made me feel comfortable enough to do my very best work.
April: I was extremely nervous. They all are such talented and hardworking people, I really felt like I had to step up and be the best I could be. As soon as I arrived on set, everyone made me feel at ease. Because of everyone’s kindness I was able to do my very best work and since it was such an inclusive environment, I was really able to soak up so much knowledge from everyone around me. I was really fortunate to work with them and get to know what amazing and compassionate people they are.
What was it like on set? Was it scary and serious, or lighthearted?
April: It was a very passionate and hardworking set. Everyone really loved what they were doing. That being said, the content is very dark and difficult. When we were working on some of the more difficult scenes, there was a respectful and professional tone so that the actors could stay in the emotional state they needed to be in. However, overall it was a very warm set.
Did you know how to roller skate before this, or did you learn for the part?
Violet: It’s funny, because both April and I were competitive figure skaters when we were young, but we haven’t spent much time roller skating. However, I do believe our figure skating along with our dance training helped a lot when learning to roller skate. Eliza, April, and I were taught by a World Champion for about two months before we even started filming and it was so much fun!
Did you both become close friends with Eliza Scanlen? How was it working with her?
Violet: April, Eliza, and I connected really well right from the get go. Learning to roller skate together really gave us the opportunity to bond. We all became great friends. Eliza is such a hard worker, she is so sweet and talented and getting to know and work with her was such a blast! We love her and are still great friends today!
April: Working with Eliza was not only incredible because she is so talented and hardworking, but because when the three of us are together, on or off set, we have a total blast. It was so nice being able to form such a close bond with her, she is such an amazing and thoughtful person. We both adore her.
Last night, we finally were blessed with the premiere of the Amy Adams-led miniseries Sharp Objects, adapted from the Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) novel of the same name, and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée – who also directed every episode of Big Little Lies season 1.
In it, Adams plays Camille Preaker, an alcoholic journalist sent back to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to investigate the murders of two young girls. She’s joined in the cast by fellow Academy Award nominee Patricia Clarkson, who plays her wealthy, eyelash-plucking mother, and newcomer Eliza Scanlen as Camille’s teenage half-sister.
At last, it seems Adams is being given the vehicle to take home some serious accolades – the five-time Oscar nominee has proven herself time and again in films like Doubt, The Fighter, and American Hustle, as well as two of our favorite performances of hers: Enchanted and Arrival, both of which were not even nominated by the Academy!
Sharp Objects gives Adams a character that lets her show off something we’ve rarely seen from her before: a woman deeply troubled, constantly drinking to avoid remembering her past too deeply. Her performance in the series premiere shows us that Camille’s arc will be a slow burn – we’ve mostly seen the antiheroine wallowing in her own pain so far. Adams is able to pull off her character’s inner turmoil with an understated, restrained distraught that will make the moments where she bursts all the more poignant.
Of course, Adams will be up against some stiff competition in the 2019 Limited Series category (Sharp Objects came out after the deadline for this year’s ceremony) – including the Meryl-backed cast of Big Little Lies season 2.
Episode 2 of Sharp Objects will air on HBO this Sunday, July 15, at 9 PM EST.