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A strange thing happened to Peter Sarsgaard during the premiere of the biopic Lovelace this week.
The actor choked up while discussing the dark world inhabited by his character, Chuck Traynor, the husband of Linda Boreman, who would become porn star Linda Lovelace and later an anti-porn crusader.
"I was trying to explain that the movie was a difficult role for me to do since I have children," says Sarsgaard. "The minute you say that in front of a group of people, I feel that very strongly. So that’s what happens. I thought of everything I sacrificed to have this experience."
Sarsgaard, 41, who has two children with actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, says he didn’t enjoy accepting the role of Traynor, whose relationship with Boreman is portrayed as leading to physical and mental abuse.
While the world premiere led to rave reviews for him and Amanda Seyfried (who plays Boreman/Lovelace), he "just profoundly did not want to do the role. I kept dragging my feet."
The movie starts out as a poignant and often humorous story, with Traynor courting the young, sheltered Boreman in the early 1970s.
But the second half goes very dark as Traynor forces his wife into the porn business and prostitution and engages in physical abuse. (In real life, the couple divorced, and both died in 2002).
For weeks after the shoot, Sarsgaard was still affected.
"It took me a while to warm up again," he says . "Not in a noticeable way. But people close to you notice. I’m someone who gets deep into his work."
‘Concussion’ strikes chord
The premiere of Concussion couldn’t have been more fortuitous, given President Obama’s support of gay civil rights in his second inaugural address on Monday.
The film deals with a wealthy lesbian couple whose longtime marriage hits the skids when one of the partners is hit in the head with a baseball and starts to re-evaluate whether she wants to continue to live the suburban life.
"It’s certainly timely," says writer/director Stacie Passon. "All of this really calls out the idea that this (gay and lesbian) community has been searching for legitimacy for a long time. And all the hard work has really paid off."
Concussion is not a romantic picture of marriage by any stretch. It deals with what happens when the marital flame goes out.
The injured partner, Abby (Robin Weigert), decides to give up the world of minivans and start a new life as a high-end lesbian prostitute in Manhattan.
"It’s a concussion-like midlife crisis," says Passon. "It hits you hard. And suddenly the rules don’t make sense anymore. This is a real side of what marriage is all about."
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