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Amy Adams

Adams at the 81st Academy Awards in February 2009
Born Amy Lou Adams
August 20, 1974 (1974-08-20) (age 35)
Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
Occupation Actress
Years active 1999–present husband = Darren Le Gallo (2002–present)[1]

Amy Lou Adams[2] (born August 20, 1974) is an American actress. Adams began her performing career on stage in dinner theaters before making her screen debut in the 1999 black comedy film Drop Dead Gorgeous. After a series of television guest appearances and roles in B movies, she landed the role of Brenda Strong in 2002's Catch Me If You Can, but her breakthrough role was in the 2005 independent film Junebug, playing Ashley Johnsten, for which she received critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Adams subsequently starred in Disney's 2007 film Enchanted, a critical and commercial success, and received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance as Giselle. She received her second Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations the following year for her role as a young nun, Sister James, in Doubt. Though she has appeared in a range of dramatic and comedic roles, Adams has gained a reputation for playing characters with cheerful and sunny dispositions.[3][4] Adams starred in the 2008 film Sunshine Cleaning with Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin. She has since acted in the 2009 films Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in the role of Amelia Earhart and Julie & Julia portraying writer Julie Powell.

Contents

Early life

Amy Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy,[5] the fourth of seven children of American parents Kathryn (née Hicken) and Richard Adams.[2] She has four brothers and two sisters.[6] Her father, a US serviceman, was stationed at Caserma Ederle at the time of her birth,[7] and took the family from base to base before settling in Castle Rock, Colorado when she was eight or nine years old.[8] Thereafter, her father sang professionally in restaurants, while her mother was a semi-professional bodybuilder.[8][9] Adams was raised as a Mormon, although her family left the church after her parents' divorce when she was 11 years old.[10] Regarding her religious upbringing, she said, "... it instilled in me a value system I still hold true. The basic 'Do unto others...', that was what was hammered into me. And love."[11]

Throughout her years at Douglas County High School, she sang in the school choir and trained as an apprentice at a local dance company with ambitions of becoming a ballerina.[12] Her parents had hoped that she would continue her athletic training, which she gave up to pursue dance, as it would have given her a chance to obtain a college scholarship. Adams later reflected on her decision not to go to college: "I wasn't one of those people who enjoyed being in school. I regret not getting an education, though."[13] After graduating from high school, she moved to Atlanta with her mother.[8] Deciding that she was not gifted enough to be a professional ballerina, she entered musical theater, which she found was "much better suited to [her] personality".[11] Upon turning 18, Adams supported herself by working as a greeter at a Gap store while performing in community theater.[12] She took her first full-time job as a hostess at Hooters, a fact that became her "entire press career" for a while.[14] Adams left the job three weeks later after having saved enough money to buy her first car. She admitted: "... there was definitely an innocence to my interpretation of what Hooters was about. Though I did learn, quickly, that short shorts and beer don't mix!"[8]

Career

1995–2004: Early work

She began working professionally as a dancer at Boulder's Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse. There, she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner theater director, Michael Brindisi, in 1995.[15] Adams relocated to Chanhassen, Minnesota and worked at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres for the next three years. While she was off work nursing a pulled muscle, she auditioned for the satirical 1999 comedy Drop Dead Gorgeous, which was being filmed in Minnesota, and was cast in her first film role. Persuaded by her Drop Dead Gorgeous co-star Kirstie Alley, Adams moved to Los Angeles, California in January 1999.[9][15] Describing her first year there as her "dark year" and "bleak",[11] she recalled that she would "pine for that time" at Chanhassen because she "really loved that security and schedule", and said, "The people I worked with there were also a great family to me."[16] Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, she was cast in Fox Network's television series spin-off of Cruel Intentions, Manchester Prep, in the role of Kathryn Merteuil. The series did not live up to the network's expectations and following numerous script revisions and two production shutdowns, it was canceled.[17] The filmed episodes were then re-edited to be released as the direct-to-video film, Cruel Intentions 2.

From 2000 to 2002, Adams appeared in a series of small films like Psycho Beach Party while guest-starring on television series such as That '70s Show, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville and The West Wing. She then appeared in Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can as Brenda Strong, a candy-striper with whom Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) falls in love. It was, in Spielberg's words, "the part that should have launched her career" but she was unemployed for a year after that.[6][18] However, Adams said, "It was the first time I knew I could act at that level with those people. To be believed in by Steven Spielberg... it was a huge confidence booster."[19] In 2004, she starred in The Last Run as well as voicing characters on the animated television series King of the Hill. She was also cast as a regular in the television series, Dr. Vegas, in the role of Alice Doherty but was later fired after a contract dispute.[20]

2005–2007: Critical success

Adams in 2006 as her Enchanted character Giselle while filming in New York City's Central Park

Prior to leaving Dr. Vegas, she had received the script for a low-budget independent film named Junebug and auditioned for the role of Ashley Johnsten, a young, cheerful and talkative pregnant woman.[8] Director Phil Morrison explains his decision to cast Adams: "Lots of people looked at Ashley and thought, 'What's the sorrow she's masking?' To me, the fact that Amy didn't approach it from the angle of 'What's she covering up?' was key."[21] The film was shot in 21 days in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.[22] During that time, Adams turned 30 years old and was worried about her film career: "I thought maybe I should move to New York, maybe I should do something else. It wasn't that I was quitting or making a dramatic statement. It was more like maybe this just wasn't a good fit."[23] On the experience of making Junebug, Adams said, "It was really empowering. At the end of the summer I was unemployed but I was happy and I was proud. I was like, you know what, I'm done with being pushed around."[22] Junebug premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with Adams winning a Special Jury Prize for her performance.

After the theatrical release of The Wedding Date, in which Adams appeared alongside Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney, Junebug was released in theaters by Sony Pictures Classics. Adams earned critical accolades for her work in Junebug; Carina Chocano of Los Angeles Times noted, "Adams' performance in a role that could have easily devolved into caricature is complex and nuanced."[24] Joe Leydon of Variety commented, "Partly due to her character's generosity of spirit, but mostly due to her own charisma, Adams dominates pic with her appealing portrayal of a nonjudgmental optimist savvy enough to recognize the shortcomings of others, but sweet enough to offer encouragement, not condemnation".[25] She received several awards for Best Supporting Actress including the National Society of Film Critics award and the Independent Spirit Award. She was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Academy Award. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Adams to become a member in 2006.[26]

Although Junebug had a limited audience, Adams' critically acclaimed performance in the film helped to increase interest in her acting career. Adams went on to appear in films like Standing Still and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and played the recurring guest role of Katy on the television series The Office. After providing the voice for Polly Purebred in Walt Disney Pictures' Underdog, Adams starred in Disney's 2007 big-budget animated/live-action feature film, Enchanted. The film, which co-stars Patrick Dempsey, Idina Menzel, Susan Sarandon, and James Marsden, revolves around Giselle, who is forced from her 2D-animated world to real-life New York City. Adams was amongst 300 or so actresses who auditioned for the role of Giselle,[27] but she stood out to director Kevin Lima because her "commitment to the character, her ability to escape into the character's being without ever judging the character was overwhelming".[28]

Enchanted was a commercial success, grossing more than $340 million worldwide.[29] Her performance was well received by the critics, with Todd McCarthy of Variety describing Enchanted as a star-making vehicle for Adams the way Mary Poppins was for Julie Andrews.[30] Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times commented that Adams was "fresh and winning",[31] while Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe stated that she "demonstrates a real performer's ingenuity for comic timing and physical eloquence".[32] Adams garnered a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, a Critics' Choice Award nomination for Best Actress, and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Three of the film's songs were nominated for Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards. Adams performed one of the songs, "Happy Working Song", live on stage during the Oscar ceremony. "That's How You Know", originally performed by Adams in the film, was sung by Kristin Chenoweth at the ceremony. In an interview, Adams remarked that the song was "perfect" for Chenoweth since Chenoweth "was a huge inspiration for how [she] approached Giselle".[19]

Following Enchanted, Adams appeared in Charlie Wilson's War, co-starring with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Adams portrayed Bonnie Bach, the title character's administrative assistant. On the experience of making the film, Adams said, "It was so much fun. Just to be on that set and learn from these people and get to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Hanks do these amazing scenes together, directed by Mike Nichols, it was for me like going to school."[33]

The success of Enchanted increased Adams' media exposure during the 2007–08 film awards season. As well as appearing on the covers of Interview, Elle and the Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair, which named her as one of the "10 fresh faces of 2008",[34] Adams hosted the seventh episode of the 33rd season of Saturday Night Live in March 2008. In the episode, she played various characters, including Heidi Klum, as well as singing "What is this Feeling" from Wicked in a mock battle with SNL cast member Kristen Wiig during the opening monologue.

Adams' next project was Sunshine Cleaning, an independent film shot in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico from February to March in 2007.[35] She played a single mother who starts her own crime scene clean-up business in order to make enough money to send her son to a private school. The film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as one of the most anticipated titles, but received mixed reviews and was not sold to a distributor as quickly as expected.[36] When it received a limited theatrical release in March 2009, it was generally well-received.[37] Mick LaSalle of San Francisco Chronicle gave the film a positive review, saying: "The play of emotion on Amy Adams' face is the main reason to see Sunshine Cleaning."[38] A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote that the film "sometimes seems better than it is" because "Ms. Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia) has a good touch with actors and a very good cast. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt, playing sisters who go into business together, attack their roles with vivacity and dedication, even if the roles themselves don't entirely make sense."[39] Of Adams' portrayal of her character, Michael Sragow of The Baltimore Sun said, "Adams achieves perfect clarity, with a touch of the divine."[40]

2008–present

Her first theatrically released film of 2008 was the 1939-set film Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, in which she plays Delysia Lafosse, an aspiring American actress living in London whose life is changed after meeting a governess named Miss Pettigrew, played by Frances McDormand. While the film received generally favorable reviews,[41] Adams' role was noted to be similar to her joyful and naïve characters in Junebug and Enchanted. Carina Chocano of Los Angeles Times stated that "Adams is amazingly adept at playing smart playing dumb".[42] Similarly, Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that "Adams more or less reprises her princess from Enchanted, only with a beguiling touch of ditzy naughtiness".[43]

When asked whether she is in danger of being typecast, Adams responded, "Not at this point... Right now I'm just doing what I enjoy and I've done some different films, I've done some different types of roles. I've done drama this year, we had a film at Sundance (Sunshine Cleaning), but I enjoy playing upbeat characters, I really do because you take your characters home with you whether you intend to or not."[44] In another interview, Adams said, "I think I just respond to those kinds of characters... They're so layered, and I love the fact that they've made this choice to be joyful... I really identify with that sense of hope."[45] She also noted that before dyeing her naturally blonde hair red, she mostly played the role of "the bitchy girl".[3]

In late 2008, Adams starred in Doubt, an adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's play of the same name, as Sister James alongside Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Viola Davis. After being informed of the project by her Sunshine Cleaning co-star, Emily Blunt, Adams pursued the role of Sister James but was told that it had already been offered to another actor.[46] Shanley eventually cast Adams in the role because "she's got this Ingrid Bergman thing going on, this luminosity. You see a good person struggling in this complicated world. She's fiercely intelligent but has this peculiar innocence about her. She has a beautiful face of light."[47] On acting alongside Streep and Hoffman, Adams revealed that there was "a sense of uncertainty, a sense of doubt, a sense of wanting to please these amazing actors".[48] The film was well-received by the critics, while Adams' role was noted to be the "least-showy" among the four major parts.[49] Though her performance was criticized by Manohla Dargis of The New York Times as "unsteady",[50] Todd McCarthy of Variety commented that "Adams does all anyone could with the role of a nice young nun."[51] Mick LaSalle of San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Adams provides one of the film's singular advantages. She takes the role of Sister James, which onstage seemed little more than a sounding board for Sister Aloysius, and turns the young nun into someone quite specific and lovely."[52] Adams was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 81st Academy Awards, the 66th Golden Globe Awards, the 15th Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the 62nd British Academy Film Awards.

Adams with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller while promoting Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in May 2009

Adams' next role was Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, opposite Ben Stiller. The film premiered over the 2009 Memorial Day weekend and topped the U.S. box office with a gross of $15.3 million on its first day, beating Terminator Salvation.[53] Although the film received "mixed or average reviews", Adams' performance was praised by most critics.[54] Among those to give it a positive review, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune thought that the film "radically improves whenever Amy Adams pops up as aviatrix Amelia Earhart... she's terrific — a sparkling screen presence"; and Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "Battle of the Smithsonian has plenty of life. But it's Adams who gives it zing."[55][56] On the other hand, Ty Burr of The Boston Globe disliked the film, describing Adams' Earhart as "a flighty pill with no resemblance to the woman herself".[57] While Lael Loewenstein of Variety thought Adams was "trying a bit too hard", Roger Ebert commented that she was the only actor who surpassed the material.[58][59] The film's director, Shawn Levy, says of her: "I don't know that there's a better actress in her generation... I mean, there are other big female actors, but someone who can do Doubt and Julie & Julia, and Night at the Museum 2, all in the same year? Her range is almost unparalleled. It's a huge part of why we feel that this movie is even better than the first."[60]

Following Smithsonian, Adams starred in Julie & Julia as a frustrated government secretary, Julie Powell, who decides to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She next appeared in Leap Year, a romantic comedy which began filming in March 2009 and was released in early 2010.[61] Her upcoming projects include The Fighter; Daughter of the Queen of Sheba;[62] and an adaptation of Adena Halpern's novel The Ten Best Days of My Life, which she will also be producing.[63]

Personal life

As of April 2008, Adams is engaged to her boyfriend of six years, actor and artist Darren Le Gallo.[8] She met Le Gallo in 2001 in an acting class.[64] Since she was "really focused" in class, he initially thought that she was "like Tracy Flick in Election."[6] About a year after they met, Adams and Le Gallo acted together in a short film called Pennies over one weekend, during which they became better acquainted with each other.[8] They started dating shortly thereafter. As of December 2009, Adams is pregnant with the couple's first child.[65]

Body of work

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1999 Drop Dead Gorgeous Leslie Miller
2000 Psycho Beach Party Marvel Ann
"The Chromium Hook" Jill Royaltuber Short film
Cruel Intentions 2 Kathryn Merteuil
2002 The Slaughter Rule Doreen
Pumpkin Alex
Serving Sara Kate
Catch Me if You Can Brenda Strong
2004 The Last Run Alexis
2005 The Wedding Date Amy Ellis
Junebug Ashley Johnsten Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress tied with Michelle Williams for Brokeback Mountain
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Gotham Award for Breakthrough Performance
Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Acting
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Performance
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Standing Still Elise
2006 "Pennies" Charlotte Brown Short film
Moonlight Serenade Chloe
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby Susan
2007 The Ex Abby March
Underdog 'Sweet' Polly Purebred (voice)
Enchanted Giselle Saturn Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Female Performance
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss
Nominated—National Movie Award for Best Performance - Female
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Comedy
Charlie Wilson's War Bonnie Bach
2008 Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Delysia Lafosse/Sarah Grubb
Doubt Sister James National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2009 Sunshine Cleaning Rose Lorkowski
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Amelia Earhart/Female Patron Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Comedy
Julie & Julia Julie Powell
2010 Leap Year Anna
The Fighter Charlene Post-production

Television appearances

Year Title Role Notes
1999 Late Night with Conan O'Brien Herself (Guest) Episode (23 July 1999)
2000 That '70s Show Kat Peterson Episode ("Burning Down the House")
Charmed Maggie Murphy Episode ("Murphy's Luck")
Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane Dinah Episode ("Tall, Dark and Duncan's Boss")
Providence Rebecca 'Becka' Taylor Episode ("The Good Doctor")
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Beth Maclay Episode ("Family")
2001 Smallville Jodi Melville Episode ("Craving")
2002 The West Wing Cathy Episode ("20 Hours in America: Part 1")
2004 King of the Hill Merilynn/Sunshine (voice) Episode ("Cheer Factor")
Misty (voice) Episode ("My Hair Lady")
Dr. Vegas Alice Doherty Recurring
2006 The Office Katy Episodes ("Hot Girl", "The Fire" and "Booze Cruise")
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Herself (Guest) Episode (7 February 2006)
Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Herself (Guest) Episode (16 February 2006)
2008 Late Show with David Letterman Herself (Guest) Episodes (28 February 2008 and 9 December 2008)
Live with Regis and Kelly Herself (Guest) Episodes (4 March 2008 and 10 December 2008)
Saturday Night Live Herself (Host) Episode (8 March 2008)
The Charlie Rose Show Herself (Guest) Episode (12 December 2008)
The View Herself (Guest) Episode (12 December 2008)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien Herself (Guest) Episode (15 December 2008)
2009 Oprah Winfrey Show Herself (Guest) Episode (20 February 2009)
Late Show with David Letterman Herself (Guest) Episode (29 July 2009)
2010 Late Show with David Letterman Herself (Guest) Episode (5 January 2010)
Late Show with Jimmy Fallon Herself (Guest) Episode (7 January 2010)

Discography

Year Song Soundtrack Label
2007 "True Love's Kiss", Enchanted Walt Disney Records
"Happy Working Song"
"That's How You Know"
2008 "If I Didn't Care" Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day Varèse Sarabande

References

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  3. ^ a b Freedom du Lac, Josh (December 11, 2008). "'The Real Thing': Amy Adams Enchants, Impresses in Nun's Role". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/11/AR2008121103977.html. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  4. ^ Slotek, Jim (December 12, 2008). "The other side of Amy... it's about time". Toronto Sun (Sun Media Corporation). http://www.torontosun.com/entertainment/movies/2008/12/12/7720546-sun.html. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
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  17. ^ Flint, Joe (October 22, 1999). "On The Air". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,271267,00.html. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
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  21. ^ Page, Janice (August 7, 2005). "For actress Amy Adams, role was a turning point". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2005/08/07/for_actress_amy_adams_role_was_a_turning_point/. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
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  26. ^ Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (July 5, 2006). "Academy Invites 120 to Membership". Press release. http://www.oscars.org/press/pressreleases/2006/06.07.01a.html. Retrieved January 28, 2008. 
  27. ^ White, Cindy (November 20, 2007). "Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey help director Kevin Lima bring back classic Disney in Enchanted". Sci Fi Weekly. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/interviews/sfw17424.html. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
  28. ^ Wood, Jennifer M. (November 26, 2007). "Amy Adams Enchants Kevin Lima". MovieMaker. http://www.moviemaker.com/directing/article/amy_adams_enchanted_kevin_lima_20071126/. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
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  33. ^ Murray, Rebecca (November 15, 2007). "Amy Adams Transforms Into a Princess for Enchanted". About.com. http://movies.about.com/od/enchanted/a/enchanted111507.htm. Retrieved March 23, 2008. 
  34. ^ "V.F.'s Hollywood Issue: The Annie Leibovitz Covers". Vanity Fair. February 5, 2008. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/hollywood_covers_slideshow. Retrieved March 28, 2008. 
  35. ^ New Mexico Film Office (February 8, 2007). "Governor Bill Richardson Announces Sunshine Cleaning to be filmed in New Mexico". Press release. http://www.nmfilm.com/article.php?id=1212. Retrieved January 28, 2008. 
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