Sunday, March 9, 2008

Adams' family awed by accolades

If Colleen Hicken challenges you to a game of dueling grandkid snapshots, leave your wallet in your pocket.

She'll win. Hicken, a Providence native and longtime Ogden resident, is grandmother to breakout Hollywood star Amy Adams, currently starring in the Disney megahit "Enchanted."

Adams plays Giselle, the animated princess pushed through a portal, only to emerge, as flesh and blood, through a Manhattan manhole.

"We're all extremely proud of her," Hicken said, in an interview at the tidy, photograph-packed home she shared with late husband Hugh. "Amy is doing this all on her own, and she has worked very hard."

Hicken's daughter Kathryn is Adams' mom.

"She is so made for this part," Hicken, 78, said, of her granddaughter's role as Giselle. "She is so funny and flitty and happy. It's just like watching Amy on the screen."

Giselle is Adams' first starring role, but in her eight years in film and on television, she has earned critical praise for a number of projects, including an Oscar nomination for the role of Ashley in the Sundance Film Festival debut, "Junebug." She also portrayed Brenda Strong, Leonardo DiCaprio's girlfriend, in "Catch Me If You Can."

Last year, she appeared in "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." She plays the supporting role of Bonnie in "Charlie Wilson's War," starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, opening on Friday.

In March, she'll co-star in "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day." Up next is "Doubt," with Meryl Streep.

It's not a bad resume for someone who, less than a decade ago, considered doing dinner theater in Denver her big breakthrough.

"She was in several shows, including 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' and 'A Chorus Line,' " Hicken recalled. "Someone she acted with in Denver told her to come to Minneapolis, so Amy moved there and did more plays."

Adams hired an agent, who sent her audition tape to a Los Angeles casting director. The actress won her first role, as a dim-bulb cheerleader in a beau, with competitors played by Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richard. Kirstie Alley played the scheming, possibly murderous mother of Richard's character. The 1999 comedy/thriller was "Drop Dead Gorgeous."

"The rest is history," Hicken said. "Amy came along fairly fast for Hollywood. She was picked for some really good parts."

Kathryn Hicken graduated from Ben Lomond High School, and married Richard Adams, whom she met when they were both students at Brigham Young University.

Richard joined the Army, and Amy Lou Adams, now 33, was born the fourth child of seven in a military family, then stationed in Italy.

Back in the United States, the Adams family settled in Castle Rock, Colo.

"Amy was always a chatterbox, from a young age," Hicken said. "And whenever you asked Amy to perform, even when she was just tiny, she would sing. Some kids won't do that. She always sang that song from 'Annie,' 'Tomorrow.' "

Hicken has fond memories of visits by the Adams brood. The kids were always fun, upbeat and active.

"My daughter Kathy was such a good little mother. They'd come down in some of the crappiest cars, those little kids. My house isn't very big, but as long as you gave them each a sack of something to eat, they would sit down and watch television. They were the best little kids, and a very close family."

All looked alike, with big, blue eyes and blond or strawberry-blond hair. Amy Adams now deepens her color to a soft red.

"I love every one of them," Hicken said. "They are not jealous of their sister, just proud of her."

One of Hicken's most vivid memories is when Adams visited at about age 12, and she and one of her brothers picked and ate a half-bushel of apricots, almost immediately wishing they hadn't.

"That was a lot of apricots," Hicken said, with a laugh.

Adams took tumbling and dance classes as a child.

"She kind of considered herself a dancer," Hicken said. "She has always been good at speaking in front of people, and I think after high school that it just kind of dawned on her that maybe she could be an actress."

Screen success

Once her film career was launched, Adams kept getting cast in films with big-name actors.

"I told her I'd like to know if some of them are stuck on themselves," Hicken said. "You know, they are bigger names than she is, but she just says everyone is nice. She doesn't say anything about them."

With "Enchanted," Adams qualifies as a pretty big name in her own right.

"I said to her, 'Amy, you're a star,' and she said, 'Am not.' "

Being Amy Adams' grandmother comes with some bragging rights.

"I told everyone I knew she was going to star in 'Enchanted,' " Hicken said. "I bragged about this show for a year or more. Then I thought 'I hope it doesn't bomb.' "

Since its Nov. 21 opening, "Enchanted" has earned nearly $122 million worldwide.

"And have you seen the reviews?" Hicken asked, a twinkle in her eye. "They're all about Amy. (Co-star) Patrick Dempsey is on 'Grey's Anatomy,' and he's a big name, but all the critics want to talk about Amy."

Proud cousin

Adams has additional fans at the Roy household of her uncle.

"We feel happy for her, and proud of the hard work she has put in," said Curt Hicken, 48. "I thought 'Enchanted' was an absolutely fabulous movie. There are so many bad movies out there. Even if Amy wasn't in it, I'd still think it was a great movie. It's happy and joyful and positive, something you could take your family to."

His daughter, Mikayla, 13, is a big-time fan.

"That's been one of the biggest things in our house," Curt Hicken said. "Mikayla has told all her friends about her cousin Amy, and shown them the autographed picture of Amy in the wedding dress she wears in 'Enchanted.' Everyone has been very positive, and excited for her. You can't do much better than to have a cousin who is a princess."

And a famous actress.

"Mikayla wants to be an actress, too," Curt Hicken said. "She keeps saying 'Amy has got to get me involved, and hook me up.' It's been a real eye-opener for Mikayla to see someone in the family work so hard, and be so positive, and be such a good person, and become successful."

Brag book

Adams' newest group of local fans are patients at Ogden's Pine View Transitional Rehab. Colleen Hicken spent three weeks there recently because of back problems.

Some computer-savvy staffers printed out all of the Internet information they could find on Adams, and it all went into "Colleen's Brag Book," which is articles and photos in a white notebook.

"I've sure I've showed this to the same people 10 times," Hicken said of the book. "I think I must have shown it to everyone in Ogden."

On request, Hicken also can produce an October 2007 Vanity Fair photo shoot and profile of Adams, and a Giselle Disney Princess doll, still in its original packaging.

And Hicken can tell you about seeing "Enchanted" twice so far. When the final credits rolled, son Curt told the audience Hicken was Giselle's grandmother, and everyone wanted to shake Hicken's hand and congratulate her.

"It's pretty exciting for me," Hicken said. "It's something to make life interesting. I've been in rehab and had the flu on top of it. But all this has been fun. It's given me a real shot in the arm. I'm enjoying every bit of it. Do you blame me?"

By Nancy Van Valkenburg for Standard-Examiner


Jacob said...

I think Amy Adams is a Great actress, not only is she very pretty but shes very good. I hope she continues to do well.

Anonymous said...

Amy said on some show last night, not the Golden Globes, that her first job was at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo! Does anyone know more about that, I grew up going to that Rodeo back in the late 50s

hollywood actress said...