PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Porn star Linda Lovelace became a poster girl for the sexual revolution of the 1970s, but it's her story of a life marked by domestic abuse and exploitation that is the focus of a new film.
"Lovelace," starring Amanda Seyfried, joined a slate of films exploring the darker side of sex and pornography at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
Seyfried, 27, is best known for playing pretty, wide-eyed blondes in movies such as "Mean Girls," "Mamma Mia!" and "Les Miserables."
Not this time.
"Everybody has a story and (Linda's) story is really fascinating and really dark, and I like that stuff. I wanted to portray somebody who really existed and had that story," Seyfried told Reuters.
"I like controversy. I like risks, nudity and sex. That doesn't scare me at all," she added.
The film chronicles Lovelace's formative years, her abusive marriage to Chuck Traynor, played by Peter Sarsgaard, and how she was forced into working on the 1972 porn film "Deep Throat," which became one of the highest-grossing films in America.
Traynor, portrayed as a sadistic man with a charming facade, has a destructive relationship with Lovelace in which he rapes and abuses her, and at one point sells her to a group of five men.
Both Sarsgaard and Seyfried said they felt the film was less about pornography and oral sex and more about the disturbing course of Lovelace's life.
After she left the porn industry and Traynor, Lovelace wrote several contradictory accounts of her experiences and became an anti-pornography activist. She died in 2002 of injuries from a car crash, aged 53.
Sarsgaard, who is often drawn to playing complex and darker characters, said he was uncomfortable playing Traynor.
"I didn't want to portray him. I really didn't ... I felt like the point of view of the story was so strongly against him and his perspective, that I'm the kind of guy who looks to see the person in the corner and tries to figure out what's going on with them," the actor told Reuters.
The actor said he wished he could remove some of the grittier, violent scenes from the film.
"I have two kids, both girls, and it's getting harder and harder for me to play these roles ... especially the violence to women. I'm really having a problem with it," he said.
"Lovelace" is the first of two upcoming films based on the porn star's life. "Inferno: A Linda Lovelace Story" is also due out later this year, with Malin Ackerman playing the role of Linda, and Matt Dillon as Chuck.
"Lovelace" has been purchased for theatrical distribution by The Weinstein Company.
Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh