With three Oscar nominations under her belt, Amy Adams could be forgiven for resting on her laurels. But as she tells Stylist – she’s only just getting started.
In person, Amy Adams is petite, demure, softly spoken; everything you might expect her to be. Since breaking out in Junebug in 2005 as a happy-go-lucky chatterbox who gives birth to a stillborn baby (a heart-rending role that saw her score her first Oscar nomination), the 36-year-old actress, raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Colorado, has made a habit of playing twee but lovable characters. From a fairytale princess in Disney fantasy Enchanted in 2007, to a young nun alongside Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2008’s Doubt (cue Oscar nomination two).
But it was her star turn in The Fighter earlier this year, in which she played Charlene, the straight-talking girlfriend of real-life boxer Micky “Irish” Ward (a woman who brawls, swears and takes no crap) that proved she’s an actress who has bite too. Her brilliant performance not only landed her Oscar nomination three and a nod from BAFTA for the role (she lost out to her co-star, Melissa Leo, who plays Micky’s overbearing mother) but earmarked her to the industry as somebody who can play tough girls just as well as the nice ones. Next year she’ll star in On The Road as the drug-addicted wife of Viggo Mortensen’s character Old Bull Lee before stepping into the shoes of feisty journalist Lois Lane in the new Superman film, Man Of Steel. Just to demonstrate that she’ll continue to mix it up though, both films will hit cinemas after her role in the new Muppets movie.
Wearing a simple but chic Black Halo dress, Louboutins and no make-up when she sits down to talk to Stylist at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, Amy is both charming and unassuming. She’s also an open interviewee, heavily influenced by her family (“My mum, she’s a pusher. You say you’re scared and she’s like, ‘That’s interesting. Do it anyway,’” she says) and happily settled with her actor fiancé Darren Le Gallo and their one-year-old daughter, Aviana.
Most of all, what stands out is her wicked sense of humour; although gentle and sweet, Amy Adams can be dark and funny. It’s another indication that she’s not one-dimensional and is destined for the sort of career that Meryl Streep (with whom she has worked twice already, in Doubt and 2009’s Julie & Julia) has enjoyed: one with longevity and brilliant character roles.
The Fighter was a pivotal role for you – what attracted you to it?
I loved the character, Charlene. She’s the kind of woman who’s tough; you’re going to meet a wall and then have to break it down and she’s not going to give you any clues on how to do it, so you’ve got to figure it out yourself. But when you get through she’s actually very loyal.
Are you a loyal person?
I have a lot of professional loyalty, and a lot of familial loyalty. I take it pretty far and it’s hard for me to cut someone out of my life when something isn’t working – I’ve had to do that in the past and it’s really not fun. I don’t enjoy that at all. It’s almost easier to take the abuse [laughs].
Boxer Micky Ward – who the film centres around – has a huge and dysfunctional family and you’re from a large family. Could you relate at all?
I’m one of seven kids, so I was like, “Yeah, that’s about right” [laughs]. His family is like mine but without the accent. I met them and they were really inviting, but definitely characters. I mean, here we were, dramatising their life, and it could have gone one of two ways, so we were lucky.
You narrowly missed out on an Oscar this year for Best Supporting Actress to your Fighter co-star Melissa Leo, and your other co-star, Christian Bale, won Best Supporting Actor. What was it like working with such a lauded and talented cast?
I’d met Christian before actually – when we screentested for Batman [which Amy didn’t end up starring in] – we read opposite each other. So I knew the power he had as an actor, and when someone is that powerful, if you surrender yourself to it, it elevates you. I felt that with Mark Wahlberg and Melissa too, when somebody is that committed… I knew they were going to bring it, so I thought I had better bring it too.
Charlene is opinionated. Are you?
Yes, very. I’m actually working on not being as openly opinionated about things, but I have definitely said to friends, “I don’t think this is working and I don’t think your friends are really nice to you and I think you should know that.”
I’m very opinionated. I have different ways of getting mad. It’s not a pretty sight when I get angry
What are you like when you’re angry?
You’d have to ask my fiancé; it’s probably not pretty [laughs]. I have different ways of getting mad, but I always know that going for a walk and leaving the situation is very good. Playing Charlene was fun because there are so many times in life when you just want to get in a good brawl. And a lot of the roles I have played so far have been so subdued.
Are you looking forward to playing more dramatic characters?
Yeah, because I’m usually the one in the corner looking scared. In The Fighter it was nice to have that outlet because I normally go home from work and I’m all pent up. Like in Doubt [where Amy played a nun], I would just come home and feel like “Aah” [makes face] because my character never really got to have that moment of release.
How are you dealing with life as a mother?
I’m tired [laughs] but I’m good. I’m really enjoying it. I’m not as clever as I once was, I forget words… They say ‘baby brain’ is just a temporary thing… Is it? I’m afraid to make any big life decisions at this point. I’ve not had eight hours’ sleep in over a year, which I’m sure many people can empathise with, but you know, I really, really like it. I don’t feel like it’s a big sacrifice – I feel much happier with myself and other people since having a child.
How has becoming parents changed your relationship?
The loyalty to him is different. I mean when you have a child you realise no matter what happens with us, we are in each others’ lives forever. Whereas before it would be about winning the argument, now it’s about solving the problem. We are like, “No, we’ve got to work through this because we are not going to bring this energy into our home.” It’s definitely changed, and he’s awesome with her. He’s right in there changing nappies, and that’s very attractive. And she adores him.
Has becoming a parent changed the way you work?
Well, I think it’s going to be project specific from now on. If [Aviana] seems like the kind of kid who’s really flexible and can come on set, let’s do it, let’s see the world. If she’s someone who needs more of a home base, I’m going to have to sacrifice something. It depends. I don’t know her well enough yet.
How do you make time for yourself?
We try and do ‘date night’ once a week. It can get a little busy sometimes but we try. What’s funny is we just end up talking about [Aviana] anyway, which I hear a lot of people do. We are just so impressed with her, she’s really cool.
Do you have a wedding date set?
No. We had them set in the past and they’ve come and gone! We are planning it, we just don’t know when exactly… Is there anything from your own upbringing that you want to pass on to Aviana? Being polite and sharing because she may be an only child. I can’t say for certain but she’s not going to have seven siblings [laughs]. So I’d like her to learn how to work for what she wants, I don’t want to spoil her. It’s going to be hard.
The Fighter is out on DVD and Blu-ray on 20 June