Fame came to Amy Adams when she was almost 30 and on the point of giving up her career as an actress. But the ascent which followed was rapid, including FIVE OSCAR NOMINATIONS over 10 years
AS A YOUNG GIRL, Amy dreamed of being a ballerina. But classical ballet was too cramping a discipline for her – so she switched to singing and dancing in dinner theatres. She also worked as a waitress in tiny shorts at a Hooters restaurant. This was just a short episode, however: she gave up waitressingjust as soon as she had saved up enough for a car. “People kept on reminding me of this story for the next 10 years,” she says, “and it became my entire press career for a while.”
Amy Adams’ first appearance on a film set was almost accidental. The black comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous was being filmed in Minnesota, where she had a theatre job. “I hurt my foot and couldn’t dance for a while. I realized I’d be unable to shine on Broadway in the immediate future – so auditioned for a part in the film.” The audition was successful. “At that time I wasn’t exactly thinking of a big career in him, but my first experience put the idea into my head -1 reckoned I wasn’t going to lose anything if I moved to LA just to give it a try.”
She spent almost a year knocking on studio doors, playing small roles in TV series, until one day she found herself in a him by Steven Spielberg. In Catch Me If You Can she is the girl with whom Leo DiCaprio falls in love, although he is surrounded by a crowd of other girls all in their bloom. It might have seemed this was the ideal stroke of luck to get her career moving. But it was not to be. When the hint left the screens, Amy was not, to Spielberg’s surprise, inundated with offers of roles. But what the great Spielberg could not do for her was achieved by the low-budget hint Junebug, in which she played a pregnant young woman who tries to make peace between the perpetually warring members of her family. Adams managed to depict a character whose apparent naivety is deceptive: behind all her actions lies a profound wisdom built on goodness. This role brought Amy her first Oscar nomination. At the time Amy had been going out with actor and artist Darren Le Gallo for a number of years. After meeting in acting classes, they became one of the strongest unmarried couples in Hollywood. “When Darren proposed marriage, we had been together for many years. And then we had a long engagement – we wanted to wed in the spring or autumn, but every time I was busy filming!”
Her first Oscar nomination turned Amy into a hot ticket, and her next role – as the princess in Disney’s Enchanted – reinforced this success. The part required Amy to sing and dance, which suited her down to the ground, but the image of a Disney princess proved hard to shake off. In the ‘fat’ years that followed she played in two to three projects annually. Nevertheless, the roles she chose were varied: an actress / kept woman in the eccentric comedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day; a self-confident girl who helps her sister earn money by cleaning other people’s houses, including crime scenes, in Sunshine Cleaning; and Sister James, the modest nun in the classic Hollywood drama Doubt, where she played opposite Meryl Streep. Her portrayal of Sister James, who refuses to believe the accusations made against a priest, brought Adams her second Oscar nomination. Her third was for The Fighter, in which she plays barman Charlene, a smart girl with the bite of a bulldog who takes Micky, a simpleminded boxer, under her wing. The film’s director David O. Russell was pleased with how Amy inhabited this role, so untypical of her: “You’re no Disney princess now!” he would say on the him set. Two years later, she got her best reviews ever for her part as the wife of the leader of a religious sect in The Master. Once again, she was nominated for an Oscar and once again it passed her by. Twelve months later, she propelled her career in another direction, appearing in Man of Steel, her hrst Hollywood blockbuster.
As Amy’s popularity grew, her husband Darren Le Gallo found himself increasingly in the shade. But Amy knows she has been lucky: “He doesn’t try to compete with me. He’s incredibly talented, but it would never occur to him that my success means he’s failed. He just doesn't look at things that way – and neither do I!”
Amy picked up another Oscar nomination for American Hustle, an intellectual comedy by David O. Russell where she played a con artist pretending to be an English aristocrat. This was an unusual role for her: she wore revealing dresses, kissed Jennifer Laurence, and looked like a true sex bomb. “Funny: I’m now regarded as sexy,” says Amy. “When I was younger, roles like this never came my way!” As for Tom Ford, for the female lead for his new him Nocturnal Animals, he chose Amy for her beautiful eyes: “Her eyes – that’s what’s important in my him, because she spends the whole time reading the male lead's book.” Her hfth Oscar nomination again failed to bring her an Oscar.
Nevertheless, Amy Adams has no intention of resting on her laurels. Her plans for the immediate future include producing her own hlms; and perhaps the longed-for statuette is not so far away. ♦