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March 1, 2008.
is way too obvious to say that Amy Adams is having an enchanted year Ė and
yet at the same time it is absolutely, inescapably accurate.
Since her first appearance on film in the 1999 beauty pageant comedy Drop
Dead Gorgeous with Kirstie Alley, Adams has worked pretty steadily in
film, often doing well in films what were not quite up to her talents, like
The Ex, The Wedding Date, Serving Sara and Psycho Beach Party.
Things changed big time for the actress in 2005 when her role of a wide-eyed
small-town pregnant woman who loves meerkats in a quirky little comedy-drama
called Junebug earned her the type of reviews that most actresses
would kill for Ė as well as a nomination for a Best Supporting Actress
that film opened the door for Adams, Disneyís comic fantasy Enchanted
blew that door off the hinges. In the smash hit post-modern romantic comedy
fairy tale, Adams played Giselle, a fairytale princess who is sent to modern
New York City by her evil future stepmother (Susan Sarandon.) While waiting
from her Prince Charming (James Marsden) to come save her, she becomes
enamored with a divorced man (Patrick Dempsey) and his cute little
Not only that, in 2007, Adams starred in
the Sundance Film festival favorite Sunshine Cleaning, had a
supporting role in the acclaimed Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts film Charlie
Wilson's War and even did the voice of Sweet Polly Purebred in the movie
version of Underdog.
Adams follows up her breakthrough performance in Enchanted with a
quirky old-fashioned British parlor comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a
Day. The movie is based on a 1938 novel by Winifred Watson and co-stars
Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo) and Pushing Daisies
star Lee Pace. Adams plays Delysia, a breathy American ingťnue in pre-World
War II London who is willing to do anything Ė or anyone Ė for her shot at
stardom. When her juggling of men and career options becomes too much for
her, she hires Miss Pettigrew (McDormand), a desperate and slightly
repressed former nanny, as her social secretary. Though they are polar
opposites, through their whirlwind relationship both women learn what is
important in their lives and open themselves up to finding true love.
couple of weeks before the premiere of Miss Pettigrew, Adams met up
with us at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to discuss her film and her
Can you tell us about Delyshia and what you saw in her character and what
you changed in the script?
Well, I donít think I necessarily changed anything from the script. I think
the script provided such a great character just in the situations that she
was involved in. Who is a person who would get themselves in this kind of
situation? How can you approach it in a way that makes her still likable?
(laughs) Sheís a little bit manipulative Ė a lot manipulative. You
have to deal with it in a way. Sheís
self-centered and she has a lot of faults, but how can you, at the same
time, give her a soul? Whereís the soul? (chuckles) But the script
provided that. They let you know. They show who she really is and who sheís
supposed to be when sheís not trying to be who she wants to be. I think
thatís a lesson we all can learn at times. That was really attractive to
me, to get to play somebody who has several different veneers that she puts
on for different people. I mean she is an actress, you know, in her life an
actress playing an actress was fun.
Did you find
yourself channeling the ghosts of Carole Lombard, Judy Holliday and Myrna
It was something I thought about a lot. I watched the movies. I
did take from themÖ I thought that she was the kind of person who would have
watched movies and thought she was just as good as them Ė so she would try
to act like them in her own life. I really felt that she was the kind of
person who wouldíve watched movies and act like that in her own life so, I
tried to channel them. I donít know if they were really thereÖ
What is your favorite movie from that period?
From that period? Gone with the Wind. (long pause, then
laughs) I watched it when I was thirteen and it changed my life
forever. I was like: (dramatically) I am Scarlett OíHara. Which is
not good at thirteen. (laughs again) That is not a power you need to
She was a
pretty girl and just trying to have funÖ
know! She was a survivor. I think thatís what I identified with. She got
in these situations andÖ I mean, I watch the movie now and Iím like, wow,
films are different.
How glad are
you that you took Kirstie Alleyís advice to drive out to Hollywood?
Iím very glad. It led me on a completely different path than I had
intended for myself. I think the idea of Hollywood just didnít make any
sense to me Ė it wasnít on my radar at all. Acting in films was something
that special people did. So, when I met people that were in films
and realized they were just people it helped make it more of a reality. And
having her say that I could work, itís just weird. Sometimes you just need
a little kick in the butt.
some singing in your last two movies. Is that something you want to
Iíd love to do it on stage. I donít have any plans for an album
because me singing pop music is just shockingly bad. (laughs) Iíd
turn it into the musical version of whateverÖ Itís annoying. Iím
the girl at karaoke that youíre like: ďDid you have to pick Journey?Ē I
would love to work on stage, though.
singing at the Oscars?
No. I was like; if I get through the first one I think I should
just count my blessings. But, Kristin Chenoweth is singing the second one
so, no pressure. I was like; did you have to pick the best singer in
fascinating is it that three songs got [nominated for Best Original Song
Itís reallyÖ I mean, itís not surprising but I wasnít expecting
that. I thought one Ė maybe. But they are very different. They are three
different styles of songs.
You are doing
two back to back movies with Meryl Streep. How amazing is that?
Itís amazing. Sheís great.
Did she stay
in character the entire time you filmed?
Not really. No, she didnít. But, at the same time, if she did I
donít know that I would notice. (laughs) I know, it sounds
horrible, but I tend to just accept people for who they are and whatever
their process is. She was playing my Mother Superior, so she was very warm
with me and very kind. If that was her way of [staying in character]Ö I
donít think it was. Sheís just a great lady. She wasnít the disciplinary
nun with me at all.
your leading men? Can you say something unique about them?
Unique? I donít know. What I know about Lee [Pace, who played the
man in love with her in Miss Pettigrew] that is exceptional is that
he is one of those people who really enjoys life. He just roles with the
punches. Iíve never seen anything anyone more spontaneous than him. I
really envy that. Heís so spontaneous in his life. Heís so much fun
to do something with. Itís always an adventure. Whatever comes up. Iím
not spontaneous like that at all, so I really envy that quality in him.
Heís wonderful to work with. 6í4Ē and completely solid. (chuckles)
Itís like, thatís really what you look like. I just feel squirrelly talking
about it. Hereís why. I have come across as boy crazy because Iím like: Oh,
my gosh. Heís so cute. But thatís how Iíve been, so Iím kind of trying to
be more professional, because I sound like that actress who, like, really
overly enjoys all of the scenes I get to do with them. There is this story
with Lee where the director asked him to leave the set because I was staring
at him. (laughs) Because I am a little boy crazyÖ But I was staring
at him and the director was trying to talk to me. Lee had come in on a day
where he was not working. He had a dialect session. He was across the room
and he just looked dashing. He looked like an old movie star, just
lounging there in his cowboy boots, like Steve McQueen across the room. I
was, like, oh, wow. And the director was like, ďWhat are you doing?Ē I was
like Iím sorry, I wasnít listening. I was looking at Lee. I mean look at
him leaning over there. Itís just distracting. And the director walked
over and said ďyouíre distracting Amy with your presence so you need to
leave.Ē You werenít supposed to tell him! He was joking Ė it was all in a
good spirit. But I was mortified. Mortified! We just started laughing.
What was it
like working with Frances?
It was excellent. It was wonderful. I have always loved her work
and so to get to act opposite her and do comedy opposite her and to realize
that we have a similar approach to certain kinds of comedy; it was really,
really fun. Her work ethic and her professionalism is just unbelievable.
The more that I work, thatís what I really notice. People who are where
they are Ė thereís a reason most of the time. Theyíre hard workers. She
never left the set. She set such a wonderful tone. The director as well,
Bharat [Nalluri]. The two of them really Ė it was one of those experiences
on the set [where] you just canít believe how good itís going. How much fun
youíre havingÖ Thereís no drama. Thereís no issues. Nothing, weíre just
having fun every day. You show up to work and you are excited. I think
that comes a lot from the people you work with.
pointed out that it was exciting working on those grand sets. What was that
like for you Ė being in with all that splendor?
fun. Itís transformative. It helps you so much to believe in yourself in
the situation. When you are in London, a lot of it is existing spaces.
They did an amazing job of finding those spaces in London. Shooting outside
of the Savoy Ė all they did was change the storefronts. The rest of it was
as is, which is amazing. It puts you back into a bygone time. It seems
glamorous, but Iím sure itís far too much work for me, but everyday getting
that dressed up, that would be a lot of work.
comfortable are you with your ďIt-nessĒ
Until this junket I didnít even know about it. (laughs) I
always equated ďItĒ girls to having a certain kind of sexuality. So, for
me, I donít think like that. That was the original thing, sheís got ďIt,Ē
you know what I mean? Who was the first one? Clara Bow? So, I guess itís
not something that I associate with myself at this time. But Iíve been
working which is so grounding. You donít get a sense of the outside world
when youíre working Ė also when youíre in New York, because New York is its
own universe. So weíll see, Iím sure, when I go home weíll see how it
and this film being comedy, do you see yourself as funny?
Iím silly. Iím a silly person. I can be ridiculous. Annoying Iím
sure. But what I like about both of them is that thereís a little bit of
pathos underneath with them. It gives us a place to center the characters
because theyíre both really out there Ė as far as characters go.
Are you at
all concerned about getting typecast?
Not at this point. Right now Iím just doing what I enjoy. Iíve
done some different films. Iíve done some different types of roles. Iíve
done drama. We did a film at Sundance this year [Sunshine Cleaning]
that was much more dramatic. I enjoy playing upbeat characters. I really
do, because you take those characters home with you, whether you intend to
or not, so playing depressed people, itís just a downer, you know? Itís a
lot of sacrifice in your personal life.
Sunshine Cleaning. What was it like to make and what were your co-stars
Well, Emily Blunt is like my English sister. Sheís like my English
twin, as far as personalities go. The two of us together we would exhaust
people. (mimicks talking non-stop) We like to tease each other.
Sheís got a great sense of humor. What I took from working with her is not
just from the acting experience, but getting to know her. Itís so nice to
have someone whoís your peer who you can absolutely, without any question,
cheer for. She does the same for me. Weíre so supportive. I was so
excited when we did the cover of Vanity Fair. Sorry, Iím all
blah-blah-blah-blah. The coffee just kicked in. (laughs) When she
was cast I was originally, completely intimidated because Iíd seen My
Summer of Love. At the time she was cast I hadnít seen [The Devil
Wears] Prada yet. I did see it and sheís great in that, too. I was
like that girlís got chops. I have got to bring my A game to this. Not
that I was planning on not. (laughs again) But, I knew her
potential and she completely lived up to it. Then they also cast Alan Arkin.
It was just really a dream cast. I really felt that she was my sister. I
still do. Itís weird when youíre not related and have such a kinship.
Did you read
the book Miss Pettigrew by Winifred Watson?
I asked if I should read it and I was told not to read it
beforehand, because I would draw comparisons. I try to take that advice
from people. I have read part of it since. It is quite a bit different.
Did you get
to keep the costumes?
No, I didnít get to keep the costumes. You know I have to be
honest; I see the costumes as my characterís wardrobe so I would feel so
weird, you know? But I would have kept the jewels. That I can handle.
(laughs) Jewels! The diamonds, I would have kept those.
I hear youíre
Night at the Museum 2?
Yeah, Iím in negotiations right now for that Ė to play an
Have you seen
Can you tell
like when you go back to your hometown?
I havenít been back to my hometown, I think, since I left it. It
was one of those places for me. I was ready to leave.
when you visit your family over the holidays? How does your family react to
all thatís happened?
Theyíre cool. You know, Iíve been out in LA working now for nine
years. Theyíve had a lot of time to get used to the idea. I think they
have a lot to deal with because they are always asked a lot of questions
about me. Iím not the best communicator, so they donít know the answers.
Iím like; just tell them to stop asking you questions. But I understand.
going back to your hometown, that was the premise of
Junebug, the film that got you your
Oscar nomination and really got you noticed. Did you know have any idea
when you saw the script for Junebug it was the movie that would
I had no idea. At the time I had just done a pilot for a
television show that was picked up. [Dr. Vegas, a short-lived series
with Rob Lowe.] Then my contract got renegotiated. I really was
consideringÖ at that time I had done Junebug and I was like, I have
to do this project. I have to prove to myself that I can do this Ė play
this character. Then after that I finished my obligation on a television
show and I was really considering moving to New York and pursuing theater.
Because I was like I donít know if LA and I are a good match. Iíve been
out here for seven years at the time and Iím still not happy. Iím still
not, sort of fulfilled as an artist. What can I do?í So I thought, okay,
Iím going to go back and Iím going to get some conservatory training and go
to stage. Then it premiered at Sundance and things changed.
working a long time to become an overnight sensation.
Most people who arenít eighteen do. Even at eighteen some people
have been working [a long time].
arenít so much in the magazines and the blogs and things. How do you keep
your private life private?
Iím not that interesting. (laughs) I donít do interesting
things. I think part of it is that Iím a little bit older so I donít have a
nightlife that really involves anything other than going to get Mexican
food. There are only so many times they [can write] ďHow can you eat so
much Mexican food and still be thin?Ē That would be the only headline.
(laughs again) ďWhatís she really eating in that Mexican food
restaurant?Ē I donít know what it is, I think there would be a lot of
people in LA who do not appreciate that attention but get it. So, in a way,
it is just luck that they really havenít found me interesting yet. Iím
happy to be a bore.
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