With a singing stint at the Oscars, numerous talk show spots and magazine covers, a gig hosting "Saturday Night Live" tomorrow night, and a pair of upcoming films with Meryl Streep (the drama "Doubt" and the comedy "Julie & Julia"), Adams is breathing the rarefied air of the "It" actress.
Starting today, she stars with Frances McDormand as a dizzy nightclub singer with men trouble in the World War II-era screwball comedy "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day."
We spoke with the friendly Adams by phone while she was promoting the movie in New York.
How are you?
So you're done with the junket now?
After you, yes.
It's never good to be the last interview. Hope you saved something good.
Carole Lombard is referenced in "Miss Pettigrew" but were you more influenced by Myrna Loy or Irene Dunne?
I was influenced by that whole genre. I watched a ton of films in preparation and was influenced by several actresses of that time. I tried to not do a direct imitation of anyone in particular, but they were always on my mind.
Did you by any chance see the film "Theodora Goes Wild" in your research?
I didn't. Should I see it?
Ooh. I like the way you think.
So what drew you to the role of Delysia?
Everything. I absolutely loved the character. I loved the opportunity she presented to have fun and take risks as an actress and knowing that I would be doing that with Frances McDormand was the cherry on top of the icing on top of the cake.
In working with Frances did you have a discussion with her: 'I'm going to play this BIG so you have to play small.'
No, not at all. She's so perceptive and has such an understanding of comedy and comic timing, mostly what we talked about was the connection of these two characters and how and why they became friends — the truth of it all instead of the details of the performance. We were always on board with the other's take on things.
Were you a fan of screwball comedy before this?
Why do you think screwball is so rarely tried today?
Comedy now is more based on sketch comedy.
A lot of the comedies now are just sketches pretending to be movies.
(Laughs.) You said that!
(Laughs.) No, I'm lying down. I'm putting my feet up. ...Before it was more based on stage and vaudeville — much more physical.
What was your first big break as an actress?
It was doing "Drop Dead Gorgeous" in Minnesota. The film had come to town to shoot and they auditioned for some of the smaller roles and I was cast and that sort of introduced me to the idea that I could be a film actress.
In the "Tenacious D" movie, imdb.com says you played the role of "Gorgeous woman." How did you prepare for that role?
(Laughs.) Hours in the makeup chair and you see me for half a second. But I love Jack Black so I had to do it.
You've recently worked with Disney cartoon characters and Frances McDormand and now you're going back to back with Meryl Streep. That's a pretty heady year. How do you get your head to stop spinning?
It really hasn't. I've been working so that keeps me grounded. The act of getting up every morning and going to work, creating characters and being present keeps you from thinking about it all in an abstract way. I've had a great distraction in work.
So are you and Meryl going to become a team now?
(Laughs.) Yes, I will only do movies with Meryl Streep.
No Amy Adams unless there's a small role for Meryl.
Uh, no. Hardly. No.
You sing in "Miss Pettigrew" and "Enchanted." Have you always been a singer?
I sang before I acted. I was a dancer in musical theater. It's just sort of by chance that two films where I sing are coming out back to back.
How much would you say the costumes and sets aid in making this type of period film?
All the difference. They transport you into this time and place and world and with Delysia, her costumes are everything. Every outfit —and she has a lot in one day —is a new character, so they were very important for me.
Aside from your starring role in the "Theodora Goes Wild" musical, do you have a dream role?
(Laughs.) I'll never get my dream roles. I'm wrong for them. Elphaba in "Wicked" or Dulcinea in "Man of La Mancha." I always want to play these dark, complicated roles and I don't think I'm the obvious choice. Not just physically, but my vocal abilities are much more light.
You could be the good witch in "Wicked"?
Yes, I know, but I don't want to be the good witch.
In an Amy Adams vs. Ellen Page "It Girl" smackdown, who wins?
Ellen's tougher than I am. She could take me, man. Unless I'm scrappier than I appear. Which I might be.
- Howard Gensler for the Philadelphia Daily News