Joan Allen on navigating the trauma of Lisey’s Story with director Pablo Larraín

When we first meet Joan Allen’s Amanda in the premiere of Lisey’s Story, a check-in call to her sister Lisey (Julianne Moore) soon turns into an emotional outburst, a harrowing scene of self-harm. It’s an admittedly jarring introduction to the character, and one that hints at the darker depths of the miniseries, an adaptation of the 2006 Stephen King novel that explores trauma, grief, and the ways we attempt to cope with both in our lives. By the end of the first two episodes (which premiered simultaneously on June 4 on AppleTV+), it becomes clear that Amanda’s methods of coping have transported her—at least spiritually—to Boo’Ya Moon, a King-ian otherworld as alluring as it is dangerous.

Why and how has Amanda found herself here? And how does it relate to the fiction of author Scott Landon (Clive Owen), Lisey’s late husband? For some insights, The A.V. Club spoke with the great Joan Allen about Amanda’s vulnerable state, and why running away from your problems is never a permanent solution. Here’s what Allen had to say about her approach to Amanda:

I try to imagine what her real life was like, you know? I think she had a lot of unhappiness in it, in relationships, and a lot of loneliness and I think a fragility—some people are just born that way. There’s nature-versus-nurture, and I think that there is a certain piece of that [where] some people can take tougher stuff than other people. And then some people can’t take it, and they have to split off or do something to try to protect themselves. I kind of put her in that place… That helped me to empathize with her and sort of see that actually, when she’s having a hard time, she’s really trying to cope, even if it looks like she’s escaping by doing not good things. She is trying to help herself, but not with the best methods.

In the video above, Allen discusses Amanda’s “methods” in more detail and reveals how she re-centers herself after filming such intensive scenes with the help of director Pablo Larraín.


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