Amy Seimetz: Based On The Hit Movie

Sep 29, 2017
Originally published on March 9, 2018 7:56 am

A true multi-hyphenate, Amy Seimetz is a director, actor, producer, and writer, who Ice-T once called "freaky-deaky" on the set of Law and Order: SVU. As an actor, she's also appeared in Stranger Things, Alien: Covenant, and The Killing.

Currently, this accomplished multitasker is the co-creator and executive producer of the Starz series The Girlfriend Experience, an adaptation of Steven Soderbergh's film of the same name. The upcoming second season makes a huge departure from traditional television storytelling conventions. This time around, Seimetz and co-creator Lodge Kerrigan each wrote their own plot arc with different characters, and their episodes will air in alternating order.

Inspired by this adaptation, we challenged her to a game about hit movies that were turned into (usually not-so-hit) TV shows.

Heard On Melissa Joan Hart And Amy Seimetz: Multi Multi-Hyphenates

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While Ayelet and John get ready for the final round, it's time to welcome our next special guest. She's the co-creator and co-director of the Stars series "The Girlfriend Experience" and as an actor has appeared in "Stranger Things," "Alien: Covenant" and "The Killing." Please welcome Amy Seimetz.



AMY SEIMETZ: Thank you.

EISENBERG: You're a multi-multi hyphenate in the sense that you are a huge part of the indie filmmaking scene. But you got into acting, I read, to make you a better director?

SEIMETZ: I mean, I started as a writer-director. And I went to NYU, started making movies and ended up in my movies because I was too insecure to tell my actors what I wanted them to do because it was very weird. And so then I just put myself in them. And then other people asked me to be in movies and that seemed to work out OK. Yeah.

EISENBERG: So like many actors, of course, you appeared on "Law & Order: SVU," right?

SEIMETZ: Hell yeah, I did.

EISENBERG: That is like - every actor has to have that on their resume.

SEIMETZ: It was so fun.

EISENBERG: It was fun?


EISENBERG: Did it change your life?

SEIMETZ: I mean, the first two days, I didn't like it because, like, they told me I was, like, playing Jodi Arias. And so I was like, I have a bunch of ideas of how I'm going to play Jodi Arias. This is very dark. Can I go dark real quick?


SEIMETZ: So she got brought into this interrogation. And she kind of talked like a child. And I was like, I'm going to go on "Law And Order," and I'm going to talk like this little girl that murders her boyfriend. And they didn't like that at all.


SEIMETZ: So I shut up the first two days. And I kept being like, this is how I'm going to talk now. And then they were like, no. This is "Law And Order," and we have, like, a thing that we do. We're like the most successful show on television. Just do what we want you to do. And then as soon as I was like, I can just, like, coast and do what they want me to do, it became really fun. But the...

EISENBERG: So wait a second. So you're saying that as soon as you agreed to take direction...


SEIMETZ: Correct.

EISENBERG: It all felt...

SEIMETZ: Wait. But I have a good takeaway.


SEIMETZ: So I have to describe all these, like, terrible things that happened to me. And the best part was that Ice-T was in the courtroom. And after one take, he said, man, that girl's freaky-deaky.


SEIMETZ: And I was like, I didn't know that was a - like, a bucket list checkpoint. But I definitely have that moment now.


EISENBERG: That's amazing. Yup. So now you write, direct and produce "The Girlfriend Experience" on Starz. This is a show inspired by the Steven Soderbergh film of the same name. And it's about people who work as high-end escorts. So the show has been described as a think piece powder keg. Can you explain to me what that's supposed to mean?

SEIMETZ: No because I didn't write that sentence.


SEIMETZ: But we approach it in this very non-judgmental way - in this way that doesn't say it's right or wrong to be a sex worker. It just is, and it just exists. And I think that that's why this person said that.

EISENBERG: This person thought of it from that point of view.

SEIMETZ: Right - and also approaching women as people that make their own choices in whether or not they're choosing to do this profession or not, that they have agency and, you know, whether or not you agree that they are putting themselves in danger or not. It's their own decision to do this.


SEIMETZ: And that's the world we're exploring.


SEIMETZ: But I also wanted to approach is as a filmmaker as just, like - just let me be much more like National Geographic and watch people take this thing that is mating, essentially, that animals do and commodify it, you know?

EISENBERG: Right. Now this is second season. First season had a storyline - this season, abandoning that storyline. You and your co-creator Lodge Kerrigan have taken seven episodes each. You're kind of doing your own thing with these episodes - different storylines, different characters. And then they will air in the season, like, alternating. Tell me about this great vision? Like, how am I as the audience supposed to put the whole thing together?

SEIMETZ: Well, you have two ways.


SEIMETZ: You can watch his and my storyline linear, sort of choose your own adventure.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

SEIMETZ: But - and so you can watch them paired together and see thematically how Lodge takes the subject matter or the definition of the girlfriend experience and how I take the definition of the girlfriend experience and see these thematic elements, which I think is extremely interesting in alter-driven television...


SEIMETZ: ...To see a man and a woman have these two storylines.

EISENBERG: I love the idea of it. It sounds fascinating. I'm really looking forward to seeing it.


EISENBERG: Yeah. OK. You're writing a TV show based on a film. So your game is called Based On A Hit Movie. I'm going to give you the name of the movie. You just have to tell me, did that movie become a television series or not.

SEIMETZ: OK (laughter).

EISENBERG: OK? Here we go. Well, let's try it. Did "Casablanca" become a TV show?

SEIMETZ: Oh, My God. No.



EISENBERG: Yeah. It aired on ABC in 1955. How about the movie "Juno?" Did that become a TV show.


EISENBERG: No, no, no, no, no.


EISENBERG: Yeah. You can't justify someone getting pregnant every episode.


SEIMETZ: Or just being pregnant for, like...

EISENBERG: Like, the whole thing.

SEIMETZ: ...Eight seasons. Yeah.


EISENBERG: How about "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure?"

SEIMETZ: Oh, man. I loved that.

EISENBERG: Did you really? Yeah, who didn't love that? Did that become a television show?

SEIMETZ: I'm going to say, yes. Yeah, it did.

EISENBERG: Yes, it did.

SEIMETZ: (Laughter).


EISENBERG: Here is your last clue. Did "Pulp Fiction" become a television show?

SEIMETZ: Oh, Jesus. No.


SEIMETZ: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: No is correct. No is absolutely correct.


EISENBERG: I just got word from headquarters that you got enough right. Congratulations, Amy, you won.

SEIMETZ: (Laughter).


EISENBERG: Season two of "The Girlfriend Experience" premieres on Starz on November 5. Everyone give it up for Amy Seimetz.


SEIMETZ: Thanks, guys. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.