"Sharp Objects" wrapped its eight-episode run on HBO Sunday, giving you the twisted ending to Marti Noxon's take on Gillian Flynn's debut novel. And while Noxon and Flynn worked closely together on the TV adaptation starring Amy Adams, there are a few key differences that were made to take the story from the page to the small screen. Here, Noxon broke down a few of them for TheWrap. Spoilers abound, obviously.
Also Read:‘Sharp Objects’ Finale: Marti Noxon Explains the Final Line and Why They Cut the Ending Off Early
When Camille's cutting is revealed on screen vs. to the reader
Viewers of the TV adaptation find out Camille (Amy Adams) is a cutter, who has marks covering nearly her whole body at the end of the premiere episode -- but it takes readers about 60 pages to get to that revelation.
“I was mindful that many of the people watching the show would not know the story," Marti Noxon told TheWrap after the premiere. She added that was the moment the reader “really get[s] the story of what these ‘sharp objects’ have done to her,” and so she knew she wanted to replicate it on screen.
“But I also felt like we didn’t want to leave it too deep in the season,” she said. “At one point there was debate about, you know, do we match the book and hold it until like Episode 3? And I was like, ‘no way.’ I think the viewers will feel betrayed if they’ve been kept out of her secret for that long.” Read more about it over here.
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In the novel, Amma is only 13 years old, though the actress who plays her, Eliza Scanlen, is 19 in real life.
Showrunner Marti Noxon said that the decision to age Amma up was in part to make sure viewers wouldn't be distracted by her youth.
"It would be hard to see her doing some of the stuff she does," Noxon told TheWrap. She continued to say that their goal was to age her "only about a year older, 14 maybe nearing 15? But we just wanted to age her up a tiny bit because of some of the parts in the book that are you know -- visually it's different to see it than to read it, we might even age her up in your head a little bit."
She added that part of why Amma's age is never explicitly mentioned in the show is "because those teen years where girls are somewhere between womanhood and childhood are so different for every girl. And depending on her emotional and physical maturity, you can imagine something for a girl who looks a certain age and not with others. You know, it would take the focus and put it on a whole different thing."
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Alan is more of a sympathetic character
It's easy to look at Camille's stepfather, Alan, (played by Henry Czerny on the show) and see a "beaten spouse," as Noxon described him in a recent interview with TheWrap. But in the book, Adora's (Patricia Clarkson) husband feels far more distant and much less sympathetic.
"I think he's almost more a victim of whatever mind control [Adora has him under]," Noxon added. "He feels like a very classically female character in that way."
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The gang rape scene
While Camille mentions in the book that she became sexually active at a young age following Marian's death, the actual flashback to the gang rape she experienced at 13 was added for the TV adaptation and portrayed in a different way.
In the book, Adams' character tells Richard (Chris Messina) about an eighth grader who got drunk at a high school party and was passed around by the football team -- not letting on she's telling her own story.
Whereas on the HBO drama, we actually see a dark glimpse of our heroine's abusive past, in a scene that shows a preteen Camille in her cheerleading uniform, being hunted down in the woods by boys who go on to gang rape her in broad daylight.
Also Read:Why ‘Sharp Objects’ Showrunner Named Each Episode After a Word on Camille’s Body
One thing we learn about Camille's backstory is her history with alcoholism and self harm and that she at one point checked herself into rehab. She's bunkmates with a young girl named Alice, who Camille empathizes with -- and who introduces her to several rock classics. Sadly, Alice dies by suicide, and her memory joins Marian in haunting Camille throughout the series.
In Flynn's novel, Camille does attend rehab and has a 16-year-old girl as a roommate, who kills herself by swallowing a bottle of Windex -- but her good friend Alice is strictly a character from the show.
Also Read:Here’s How ‘Sharp Objects’ Is Not Hiding Its Cuts and Looking Out for Triggers at the Same Time
Camille's obsession with music
One of the show's delights is the way music is used to enhance the story. But while Camille is obsessed with her rock playlist -- and carries that cracked iPod with her everywhere -- there's no mention of her musical preferences in the book. Of course, Camille's connection to music is largely due to her relationship with Alice, who also isn't mentioned in the book.
Noxon said that the show's soundtrack is all thanks to director Jean-Marc Vallé.
"I think if you look at his work in everything, he’s very, very, music-driven," she told TheWrap (you might think of the "Big Little Lies" soundtrack). Noxon added that she was impressed with his ability to secure the rights to some songs.
"Frankly there were things that he was like, we’ll have Led Zeppelin here, and I was like, 'Good luck with that!' And he’d be like, 'Oh, we got Led Zeppelin.' I’d be like 'OK, you did!'" she said, adding that he has a reputation for "exquisite" musical tastes.
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Visions of Marian and Alice
As for Camille's visions of Marian, Alice, Natalie and Ann, those were a visually creative decision added to the show by Vallee as well.
"That was a choice that Jean-Marc made, and I think that it was just this idea of being haunted by these broken women that, again, there is this sort of legacy all around [Camille] of people who haven't survived trauma, in a way," Noxon told TheWrap. "And in some ways, I feel like she's doing it for them as much as she's doing it for herself. She will tell the truth about one of these stories."
Calhoun Day is a huge event in the show for Wind Gap, but the holiday doesn't exist in the book. Noxon told TheWrap in a previous interview that the whole idea started out as a joke in the writer's room.
“There’s a lot of talk about myth and fantasy and how that can influence towns, and your story versus your truth,” Noxon said. That idea bleeds into Camille’s own mythos: “The [Preaker] family has myths, the family has things that aren’t necessarily true on the surface.”
“The more we talked about the fake news of the town, the things that they told each other that just weren’t true, the more we kept focusing on the founder’s story, and the joke was that we were going to do Calhoun Day the musical,” she said with a laugh. Read more about the Calhoun Day episode over here.
The HBO limited series cuts off dramatically as Camille is realizing that Amma is the one who killed Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, when she discovers the mosaic of of jagged, broken teeth in her dollhouse. But the book continues for a bit and Amma even ends up in prison for what she's done and Camille goes to live with Curry and Eileen to recover from a relapse into cutting.
Noxon told TheWrap that the decision to end the show's story there was because she and the writers wanted to "convey the emotional experience of reading the book and, to me, the book ended there."
"And it felt emotionally like, this story is about the legacy of violence among these women and that it really started with Adora," she continued, adding that Amma's words -- don't tell mama -- bring it all back to Adora.
"So to end it sort of calling back to Adora felt like the original ending for this mystery," she said. To read more about that shocking ending, head over here.Also Read:‘Sharp Objects’ Showrunner Says No to Season 2: ‘This Is It’
We don't learn how Amma murdered Natalie and Ann
Unless we're counting those violent flashes in the finale's post-credits scenes, viewers don't find out how Amma took those young girls' lives.
But in the final few pages of the novel, it's revealed Amma had some help from her friends in kidnapping Natalie and Ann, while she was the one to ultimately strangle them to death and pry out their little teeth.
Amma doesn't kill her friend in the city -- on screen
Yeah, in the book, Lily Burke -- a friend Amma makes when she moves to the city with Camille -- falls victim to the young sociopath's murderous streak as well before all is said and done. Amma kills her new bestie when she thinks Camille likes her better than her little sister, and Camille finds some of Lily's hair in the dollhouse, alongside those teeth.
On the show Amma's new friend's name is Mae and the story gets cut off before that murder takes place. Though the post-credits scene alludes to a still-not-so-happy ending for Mae.
Also Read:‘Sharp Objects': Showrunner Marti Noxon Says Calhoun Day Started Out as a Joke
While a smaller detail, in the book, Camille lives in Chicago, not St. Louis. But in both the show and the book, she works as a reporter for an editor named Curry and brings Amma home for a time after Adora is arrested.