Amanda Seyfried stars in writer-director David Koepp’s psychological horror film, ‘You Should Have Left.’

Many people who possess the inability to move on from a traumatic experience continuously engage in other situations that can ultimately become distressing. That’s certainly the case for the troubled married couple in the new supernatural horror movie, ‘You Should Have Left.’ Amanda Seyfried and Kevin Bacon play complex and secretive anti-heroes who become increasingly more duplicitous and distrustful of each other the more they spend quality time together.

The psychological drama was written and directed by David Koepp. The filmmaker adapted the screenplay for ‘You Should Have Left‘ from the 2017 German novel of the same name by Daniel Kehlmann.

Blumhouse Productions‘ latest mystery feature is now available On Demand, courtesy of Universal Pictures. The thriller was produced in part by Jason Blum through his production company, Blumhouse Productions, and Bacon.

‘You Should Have Left’ follows Theo Conroy (Kevin Bacon), a successful middle-aged man whose marriage to his much younger actress wife, Susanna (Seyfried), is shredding at the seams. Their relationship has been negatively affected by her secretiveness, his jealousy and the shadow of his past.

In an effort to repair their marriage, Theo and Susanna book a vacation at a stunning, remote modern home in the Welsh countryside for themselves and their six-year-old daughter, Ella (Avery Essex). What at first seems like a perfect retreat soon turns into a nightmare when Theo’s grasp on reality begins to unravel. He suspects that a sinister force within the house knows more than he or Susanna have revealed, even to each other.

Seyfried generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘You Should Have Left’ during a roundtable Zoom interview. Among other things, the actress discussed how she was in part drawn to play the role of Susanna because they both navigate through the world of filmmaking in the same way, particularly when it comes to pleasing others. The performer also shared that she enjoyed exploring every facet of Susanna and Theo’s marriage with Koepp and Bacon, and determining where their relationship should go.

The conversation began with Seyfried delving into her initial response to the story Koeep created in the script for ”You Should Have Left.’ She noted that she was particularly drawn to her character of Susanna, including how she fits into the film industry’s view of women, and how that influenced her relationship with Theo.

“There are a lot of similarities between my character and me,” the actress divulged. “We’re both actors, and (the way Susanna deals with the film industry) is also how I navigated through this world when I was a young actress. Basically, I was a yes man, and said yes to everything, and my character just wants to be a people pleaser. You can see that she’s created that vibe on set, and she’ll do anything, and make friends with everybody. But she’s also easily taken advantage of,” she added.

“Also, she’s a mother who’s growing up in this industry, and having questions about doing love scenes and being intimate. Those things are also in the forefront of my mind when I’m looking at a character in a script,” Seyfried admitted. “So, that was obviously super interesting, because I got to explore that on screen as much as I am in my life. It felt like it was really blending into my life.

“But that’s where the similarities stop, and that aspect of it was fun. The real challenge was exploring that train wreck of a marriage that you know is just going nowhere fast, but you don’t know how,” the performer continued. “You’ll want to find out, if we did it well. That’s why I wanted to do it.”

The process of working with Koepp to bring the complexities of Susanna to life was also one that Seyfried cherished during the thriller’s production. “Every step of the way, he was very present and really smart. I feel like that during so much of the production, the three of us-Kevin, David and I-were exploring every facet of (Susanna and Theo’s) marriage by asking questions. (David) just understood exactly what needed to be said and done, in order to help the thriller part of the story. He also made sure we got the most humanity out of it, and got it to be super truthful.

“David just understands everything,” the actress continued. “He’s like a therapist in some ways, and maybe that’s why it felt so safe to work through that stuff with him. He’s your best friend and therapist, and also someone who completely knows exactly what you’re talking about. He’s quite a director. I just loved having discussions with him about marriage and parenting. It’s so therapeutic to me in general to be around people that are so insightful and intuitive.”

Work with a versatile filmmaker like Koepp, who both wrote and directed ‘You Should Have Left,’ is a learning opportunity that Seyfried truly appreciated. She shared that helmers who also pen the scripts they bring to the screen “know the story better than anybody. When you have a director and the writer on set, they’re definitely very tight, and we definitely sometimes work in tandem. But if you have everything you need in one person…they’re able to articulate what it is they’re trying to say so well, in a way that a director can’t if they didn’t also write it,” she explained.

But the performer confirmed that it’s “not to say that directors can’t take what was written (by someone else) and create the world that they want to create. But (with) this movie, the intention behind the writing was articulated from the director’s point of view.” She added that she thinks the filmmakers are “so protective of, and specific about, (their work). There’s really one way (the story) can go.

“I like that (way of working). Some actors don’t like it, as they want to have freedom, but put me in a box and design that box. I just want to do exactly what they want. Not to say that I don’t have my own creative input sometimes, but I really want to give them what they want (my character), especially with David,” Seyfried concluded.

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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