Friday, February 29, 2008

Amy, chasing

Fame is fleeting, so Academy Award nominee and recent Oscar performer Amy Adams refuses to complain about its sometimes annoying side effects. Besides, she'd rather lose some privacy than wonder where her next job is coming from.

It wasn't so long ago, she remembers, that unemployment wasn't working for her.

When a fan invades her space to pay a compliment about her precious princess part in last fall's hit musical-comedy Enchanted, she's fine with that.

"It's wonderful to have people responding to your work," Adams says. "And I'm not really bothered that much."

Then she adds with a grin, "I am mostly under the radar. In fact, I was told once that I looked so much like Amy Adams."

Certainly, she is as busy as Amy Adams deserves to be. The actress just wrapped her role in Doubt with Meryl Streep and is set to begin Julie & Julia, again with Streep, "although we have no scenes together." After that, she's a featured attraction in Ben Stiller's Night at the Museum sequel.

And, as a variation on her Enchanted princess, Adams plays a high-maintenance 1930s socialite actress in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Opening on Friday, the comedy of manners stars Frances McDormand, who plays the title character, a middle-aged unemployable London nanny who ends up being hired by a ditzy American performer (Adams) as a social secretary.

To say that Enchanted's princess and the actress-singer from Miss Pettigrew have a few things in common is to have Adams explain their self-absorption in a very polite way.

"Well, they both have a lot of energy," she says of the characters. "They both approach things with a certain passion, and they're very sure of themselves and their convictions."

That was not always the case with Adams. The U.S. armed forces brat grew up in Castle Rock, Colo., one of seven kids, and she learned to roll with whatever came her way.

She needed that sort of resilience when she became a professional performer at the age of 20. Eventually, she toured the U.S. dinner-theatre circuit, resigned to a middling life on the road. That seemed to change when she won a bit part in the 1999 beauty-pageant satire Drop Dead Gorgeous.

Slowly, Adams made a name for herself as a reliable talent who could sing, dance and do either comedy or drama. Bit parts in TV shows such as Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville and The West Wing got her noticed.

She also did a few films that kept her in the Hollywood mix, including a role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in 2002's Catch Me If You Can.

Her breakout role in Junebug - which earned her an Oscar nomination - arrived three years later. "I felt like a combination of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland when I went to the Oscars," she says of the festivities two years ago.

"It was really, really surreal, but fun."

Some of her choices post-nomination suggest a career that's a little bit surreal but fun, as well.

In 2005 and 2006, she had a recurring guest role as Katy on The Office and a glorified cameo in the box-office smash Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. She was also the voice of Polly Purebred in Underdog.

"I know there'll be a time when I have to be more strategic in my selections, which isn't organic for me," Adams says. "But I know I'm really going to have to sit down soon and think about what that strategy will be."

Source: Bob Thompson for the National Post

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