The 43-year-old actress stars as Camille Preaker, a journalist who returns to her hometown of Wind Gap to investigate the murders of two young girls. Camille has a few demons of her own, including and represented by words she's gruesomely carved into her body. But unlike the silicone scars her character sports, Adams couldn't wash off Camille's trauma every night.
"I felt crazy," she said at HBO's Summer Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday. "I had insomnia and anxiety and I'd have to realize that I didn't own it. It belonged to Camille."
Adams continued, recalling that while she'd often spend time with her young daughter, Aviana, or do "domestic" activities at home to de-stress after an emotionally draining day, she'd often be awoken in the middle of the night by something bothering Camille. It helped to go back on set and act it out.
"I think what saved us, in a way, is that we were quite close off camera," added Patricia Clarkson, who plays Adams' cold, seemingly untouchable mother, Adora. "So we had these traumatic days... and then we would drink fake alcohol on set, and then have real alcohol," she added with a laugh.
"There's a closeness that either existed, or became during shooting, so that helped us through some of the darkness," Adams agreed.
Dark roles are nothing new for Adams, however, who has built a career playing strong, interesting and captivating women. "To me, just something that feels different that I haven’t done before [is what attracts me to a project]," Adams said, noting she looks for a "strong voice," no matter who she's playing. "With Camille, I think the thing that attracted me was I hadn’t seen this particular hero as a woman."
"But there isn’t one particular type of woman [I try to play]," she continued. "If it doesn’t feel true, I can’t do it. Or I don’t know how to do it."
As for whether the eight-episode limited series, based on the 2006 novel by Gillian Flynn, will continue for a second season, showrunner Marti Noxon advised viewers not to get their hopes up. "We’re not talking about a season two," she said. "This is it, so bask in it while you can."
After all, the story will pretty much wrap up in Sharp Objects' season finale, despite Camille's not-so-great reporting skills.
"I think she could be better... I think she has potential, but she doesn't always bring out her tape recorder," Adams hilariously conceded of her character. "I think she misses some steps. She has room for improvement."
"She's not as good as Lois [Lane]," she cracked.
Sharp Objects airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.