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Amy Adams' role in Dear Evan Hansen as a grieving mother still lingers with the actress months after she completed filming the movie musical.
Adams, 47, attended PEOPLE's panel discussion "Let's Talk About It: Youth and Mental Health—A Conversation with the Cast of Dear Evan Hansen and PEOPLE," where she was asked about channeling the character of Cynthia Murphy, a grieving mother who has lost her son Connor to suicide. PEOPLE Every Day podcast host Janine Rubenstein questioned if Cynthia would have been better off believing that Connor and Evan Hansen (Ben Platt) were actual friends.
"It's a question I ask myself when playing her if she knew, if she kind of suspected, but she needed—," Adams broke off to wipe away tears. "Sorry, it makes me so sad. She needed the Connor that Evan saw and Evan did too in a way. And so I just always kind of wondered and when you're playing it, if you go back and watch it, I, there are moments I can kind of feel that she wants to ask more, but she knows better because she's not, she's not ready to grieve yet."
Adams continued, growing emotional as she said, "And Evan provides a way for her to sort of postpone the—sorry—it kills me to postpone the inevitable. She's just not ready. And that's another way of grieving, you know? And I think, I think that's something that's not shown often."
The Oscar-nominated actress explained her emotional response to the question, saying, "This is my first time talking about it publicly. This is what I look like on set all the time. So Ben [Platt] only knows me as like weepy Amy."
For more on PEOPLE's discussion with the Dear Evan Hansen cast on mental health and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.
Adams was joined on the panel by her costars Platt, Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Danny Pino and Nik Dodani, along with expert Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, founding President and Medical Director of Child Mind Institute. The film's director Stephen Chbosky and screenwriter Steven Levenson were also present.
On Wednesday night, Adams told PEOPLE at the red carpet premiere of the film the panel was "one of my favorite Q and A's we've ever had."
"So many of the questions educated me as well," she said. "So thank you guys for doing that first off, because as a mom getting to hear about sort of the importance of communication with our adolescents and our preteens and our teens, it just, it reaffirmed everything. It just reaffirmed sort of what I want to do as a parent."
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She continued, "I just want to say thank you for that. 'Cause it was a, it was educational for me to sit down."
Erika Doss/Universal Pictures
Special guests in attendance also include event co-host YourMomCares, a kids' mental health nonprofit founded by celebrity mothers: co-founders Sharon Feldstein (Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein), and Patsy Noah (Adam Levine), along with Terria Joseph (Alicia Keys).
The movie musical stars Platt, who originated the role on Broadway, as Evan Hansen, a socially anxious high school student who feels like an outsider at his high school. Trying to improve his self-image, he writes himself a letter that is mistaken for a classmate's suicide note—and rides that error to popularity.
Moderated by PEOPLE Every Day podcast host Janine Rubenstein, the panel discussion, "Let's Talk About It: Youth and Mental Health — A Conversation with the Cast of Dear Evan Hansen and PEOPLE," will stream exclusively on PEOPLE.com, EW.com, PeopleTV, and PEOPLE's social platforms on Thursday, September 23 at 5pm PT/8pm ET.
PEOPLE's award-winning Let's Talk About It mental health campaign, which launched two years ago, is helping to destigmatize mental health struggles and has led to hundreds of texts to the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.