“Mank” director David Fincher, top, presents the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award to actress Amanda Seyfried. Moderator Anne Thompson is at left.
“Mank” director David Fincher, top, presents the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award to actress Amanda Seyfried. Moderator Anne Thompson is at left.
iSociety: Rochelle Rose

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored actress Amanda Seyfried with the Montecito Award for her career and performance in “Mank” from Netflix, for which she recently received Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations.

The Montecito Award is named after one of the most stylish areas in Santa Barbara and is presented to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film. Recent past recipients included Lupita Nyong’o (2020), Melissa McCarthy (2019) and Saoirse Ronan (2018).

The award was bestowed at a live-streamed event on Friday. The interview was moderated by film journalist Anne Thompson, editor-at-large at IndieWire. SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, dressed in black tie with a three-olive martini at his side, opened the program.

“Amanda’s portrayal of Marion Davies in ‘Mank’ made us take a double-take,” he said. “A star was reborn!”

Seyfried has received critical acclaim for her portrayal of actress Davies in the biographical drama “Mank (2020)” directed by David Fincher. It earned her nominations for the Critics Choice award for Best Supporting Actress, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

When asked if she was going to the Oscars this year, Seyfried said, “Yes, the Oscars are epic. I can’t wait to be back with the ‘Mank’ cast!”

The actress has been acting for two decades but is just in her mid-30s. She shared that she is the mother of a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old. She married her “The Last Word” co-star Thomas Sadoski in 2017. About motherhood, Seyfried said, “It is the most amazing thing I could ever imagine.”

Born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, her mother was an occupational therapist, and her father was a pharmacist. She started modeling at age 11, appearing in print ads for clothing companies, including Limited Too.

“I heard about open calls to be a model listening to the Casey Kasem radio show,” she said. “My mother and I would take the bus from Allentown to nearby New York City when I was 10 to go to auditions. Bus fare was only $18. Modelling was great because I had my own money to buy jeans and shoes.”

She stopped modeling when she was 17. Seyfried took vocal lessons, studied opera and trained with a Broadway coach while in her teens. She got her acting start in soap operas as an extra in the daytime drama television series “Guiding Light.” From 2000 to 2001, she portrayed the recurring character Lucy Montgomery on the CBS soap opera “As the World Turns.” She played Joni Stafford on the ABC soap “All My Children” from 2002 to 2003.

Seyfried gained prominence following her feature film debut in the teen comedy “Mean Girls” (2004) and her recurring role as Lilly Kane on the UPN television series “Veronica Mars” (2004–06).

“I remember when I got the role in ‘Mean Girls.’ My life turned in a day, in an hour,” she said. “The movie became a big hit. Because I was only 17 at the time and shooting in Toronto, my mother had to live with me as I was not old enough to be emancipated.”

Actress Amanda Seyfried

Montecito Award recipient Amanda Seyfried discusses her recent role in the film “Mank.”

She went on to have supporting roles in independent films such as “Nine Lives” (2005) and “Alpha Dog” (2006), and portrayed Sarah Henrickson on the HBO series “Big Love” (2006-11).

Seyfried has had starring roles in many successful films, such as the musical “Mamma Mia!” (2008), the horror film “Solstice” (2008), the dark comedy “Jennifer’s Body” (2009), the erotic thriller “Chloe” (2009), the romantic drama “Dear John” (2010), romantic comedy “Letters to Juliet” (2010), the romance horror “Red Riding Hood” (2011), the science fiction action film “In Time” (2011), the mystery thriller “Gone” (2012) and the biographical drama “Lovelace” (2013).

Later, she had big roles in the romantic comedy “The Big Wedding” (2013), the Seth MacFarlane comedies “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (2014) and “Ted 2” (2015), “Pan” (2015), the dramas “Fathers & Daughters” (2015) and “First Reformed” (2017), the comedy “The Clapper” (2017), the science fiction film “Anon” (2018), the comedy “Gringo” (2018), the musical “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (2018), and the comedy “The Art of Racing in the Rain” (2019).

“It was very hard to land the role in ‘Mamma Mia!’” she said. “But I got the role and was thrilled to share the space with actor Meryl Streep. My biggest challenge was to make sure that Meryl Streep was OK with me. And she was! I learned so much from her.”

Moderator Thompson noted the rapport that Seyfried and Gary Oldman created in “Mank.”

“We worked well together because we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Seyfried said.

At the conclusion of the event, director Fincher presented the Montecito Award to Seyfried. He said Seyfried’s portral of Davies was a “dream come true.”

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, presented by UGG, ended Saturday, with online events and free in-person screenings at two oceanfront drive-in theaters at Santa Barbara City College. Click here for more information about SBIFF.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at rrose@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.