Amy Adams

Amy Adams as Giselle in Enchanted
Amy Adams as Giselle in Enchanted

This piece first appeared in the Sunday Independent on December 16, 2007. Link at the end of the piece.

It’s 11am but Amy Adams looks like she’s ready for a night on the tiles. She’s immaculately made-up, her auburn hair is shampoo-commercial shiny and her delicate little frame is clad in a little black dress. And she smells amazing. ‘Oh I just fell out of bed like this’ she deadpans when I coo my admiration. ‘I wear this kind of thing around the house.’

The look is one of someone who intends to be taken seriously as a leading lady and Adams has been billed as Hollywood’s next great white hope in what has been, by common consensus, a fairly fallow period for superstar starlets. Despite this, in person she has none of the jadedness or haughtiness you find in so many of tinseltown’s bright young things. In fact, she’s as sunny, wide-eyed and downright likable as her alter ego in Enchanted – the wickedly clever Disney flick in which she stars as a fairy tale princess who has to grapple with a real life romance. Adams looks like a little girl who’s been beamed into magical world of interviews and 7am make up calls. She all but curtsies as we’re introduced.

If she’s a little happier to be here than you’d expect it might be because unlike a lot of other young stars Adams wasn’t simply plucked from obscurity and handed big roles on a plate. She scaled the greasy showbiz pole the hard way. ‘Yeah I mean I did dinner theatre in the states’, she tells me, referring to the mainly amateur revue type shows common in America. ‘I’ve sent in audition tapes. I’ve done it all really, I take nothing for granted now.’

She won a number of small roles on shows like Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but in the film world her star rose at a fairly modest pace. Although she regularly popped up in teen and romantic comedies she was mainly known for playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend in Catch Me If You Can before her performance in 2005’s Junebug won her an Academy Award Nomination. Hollywood sat up and took notice. ‘It was incredible, I couldn’t believe it when I heard’, she tells me now. ‘I rang my mom who was at work (in Starbucks) at the time. And when I told her she just started screaming in excitement down the phone. Everyone was wondering what was wrong with her. And then she went right back to work.’

Adams is a self-confessed ‘military brat’ whose family moved around a lot – despite her All American looks she was born in Vicenza Italy, where her father was stationed. Her parents, who eventually settled in Colorado, were members of the Latter-day Saints church but left the religion after they divorced when Amy was just 11. The family were ‘never very heavily into the church’, she tells me. ‘It wasn’t really a lifestyle for us. Or at least it never really felt like a lifestyle.’

It was a big family. ‘You know I was the middle child’, she tells me. ‘And that is difficult in its own way. You sort of struggle for a sense of identity. And that struggle brought me into acting.’

She is currently dating hunky but little-known actor Darren Le Gallo, who has had bit parts in a few episodes of Six Feet Under but brushes aside suggestions that the disparity in their levels of success and fame places any pressures on the relationship. ‘Is he insecure about it? No, I mean it’s not a usual situation and I’m sure it must have been tough for him at times but he’s been really great about it. He was my date for the Oscars.’

But now that she has access to so many powerful players in Hollywood – she’s going to work with Meryl Streep next – wouldn’t she be able to help the bf out a little? ‘Well I don’t approach people for him. That could be weird. Maybe I’m not pushy enough. We’re not really what you would call a power couple.’

I can’t help believing her when she says she doesn’t get involved in the wheeling and dealing of Hollywood. She has vulnerability and a naiveté that about her that makes her seem like an old-time starlet. I get the feeling that if she were born fifty years earlier MGM would have bought her, changed her name to something sassier and rationed out the barbiturates.

In that alternate reality Amy might have done some topless photos or ‘glamour shots’. The nearest her actual life comes to having a sordid past is her stint as a waitress at the one of the notorious Hooters bars, a chain in which the waitresses (there are no waiters) wear tight white tank tops and shorts and which requires employees to sign a form stating that they acknowledge that their work environment is one in which ‘joking and sexual innuendo based on female sexuality is commonplace.’

Amy giggles when I mention this. ‘Oh yeah I worked there. I’m not embarrassed about it at all in fact. You know, when you’re on the way up you do what you can to pay the bills. I was supporting myself and I needed the money.’

All totally understandable. And I can’t help wondering if in those years my new favourite starlet learned anything, which might have helped her to cope with the hard-nosed Hollywood types waiting in her future? ‘Well’ she tells me, going all faux-serious for a moment. ‘That whole experience taught me that even the nicest guy in the world can’t be trusted once he has some chicken wings and beer inside him.’ It’s an epiphany worthy of any Disney princess and Amy won’t be going back to carrying trays anytime soon.

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/film-cinema/bewitched-by–amys-spell-1248526.html

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~ by Donal Lynch on February 29, 2008.

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