Amy Adams | Interview
In film as in life, Amy Adams reveals just what she wants.
Not even three years ago, a relatively unknown Amy Adams turned heads—and scored a Best Supporting Actress nom—with her heart-wide-open Ashley in the indie Junebug. Last fall, the 33-year-old filled the nation’s multiplexes in Disney’s Enchanted; she sang one of the tunes at last week’s Oscars. In her latest, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starring opposite Frances McDormand, Adams plays Delysia, an irrepressibly perky American actor in pre-WWII London. Adams’s star will keep rising: She chatted with us between filming two projects in which she’ll share the screen with Meryl Streep: Doubt and Julie & Julia.
Time Out Chicago: Of your Junebug character, you’ve said she “knows more than she lets on,” which also sums up your latest role. Does that resonate with you?
Amy Adams: Um, yes. I’ve had that comment several times, that I’m perceived as this nice person and do I have another side. Of course I do. We all have a persona we put on to help us get through the day.
TOC: You’re going to get asked this again with your next role, right? The innocent young nun in Doubt.
Amy Adams: People will be like, “When are you gonna stop being innocent?” Yeah, I imagine.
TOC: You do have this knack for playing dumb smart.
Amy Adams: [Laughs] Thank you, I think.
TOC: I mean, you give layers to characters who could seem all surface.
Amy Adams: I really do a lot of investigation into who this person is. I try to answer as many questions as I can and then behavior happens on top of facts.
TOC: You’ve said you’re glad you didn’t get famous earlier on because “your twenties are brutal, a hard time.” What made yours so rough?
Amy Adams: We all have a period where we struggle for self-discovery, and we take some missteps along the way. In my early twenties, I moved to Los Angeles and it was just a long adjustment period.
TOC: Um, could you be more specific?
Amy Adams: No. [Laughs] I think it’s just very much like Delysia, trying on different identities, trying to fit in, trying to find your friends. Los Angeles was not an easy place for me to meet people.
TOC: What identities did you try on?
Amy Adams: Girl next door, the vixen—but that was just work-wise. In my own life, I made friends that were—they weren’t my peeps.
TOC: Hollywood types?
Amy Adams: Not even Hollywood types, just dating the wrong guys.
TOC: Since you grew up Mormon, what’d you make of all the recent media hype around Mormonism?
Amy Adams: Well, we stopped practicing at some point, but before that it was just somewhere you went on Sunday. I didn’t think of it as different. But there are values and teachings I take with me: don’t lie, observe the Golden Rule. I can’t even yell at a New York taxi driver without feeling like I have to apologize for losing my temper.
TOC: You’re a natural blond, but since Junebug you’ve been a redhead. Were you trying to get away from the blue-eyed blond identity?
Amy Adams: Maybe. I did notice a shift in perception. Here I am, I’m super-energetic, a positive person with blond hair, blue eyes—it’s very easy to make assumptions about my character. And the minute you put red hair on it, it’s suddenly, like, instead of energetic, she’s a firecracker; instead of ditzy, she’s quirky.
TOC: Did you find that, like with your characters, people underestimated your intelligence?
Amy Adams: There was a time when I definitely thought that, but I had something to do with that. I didn’t let people in.
TOC: Here are three words you’ve used to describe yourself.
Amy Adams: Oh, no.
TOC: Chipper. Goofy. Cartoonish.
Amy Adams: [Laughs] Well, those aren’t the only three words.
TOC: In the articles I read—
Amy Adams: Oh no, I repetitively said that? It wasn’t just, like, put on AP and then they put it in a bunch of stuff?
TOC: It just seemed to be a theme. So when are you at your least chipper?
Amy Adams: Oh, gosh, when am I at my least chipper?… I don’t necessarily get the blues, but I do get angry.
Amy Adams: Things. I don’t like injustices.
TOC: Such as…?
Amy Adams: I don’t want to go into examples because I don’t want to get involved. I know I’m being vague, but I’m intentionally being vague.
TOC: I noticed that.
Amy Adams: I just—we live in a society that tends to dehumanize people, and it drives me crazy. How would you want to be treated in that situation? Maybe that goes back to my Mormon upbringing.
Miss Pettigrew opens Friday 7.