Amy Adams was born in Aviano, Italy, but grew up in Vicenza, Italy, the
daughter of American parents Kathryn and Richard Adams, who was a U.S.
serviceman stationed in Italy. She grew up as one of seven children in Castle
Rock, Colorado and was raised in the Mormon religion, although her family left
the church after Adams' parents divorced when she was 11 years old.
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. However, after graduating from high school, she decided that she
was "never going to be that good, no matter how hard she worked" and
entered musical theater, which she found was "much better suited to her
To support Adam's community theater habit, Adams worked at Gap as a greeter and at Hooters as a hostess and a waitress, a fact that became her "entire press career for a while." Earlier she also was an employee at Penny Robins, a dance shop. She began working professionally as a dancer at Boulder's Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse, where she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner theatre director, Michael Brindisi. Along with her family, Adams moved to Chanhassen, Minnesota, where she continued to work at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. While she was off work nursing a pulled muscle, Adams 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 1998. Shortly after, 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. 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 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 role that was "supposed to be big break" but she "was unemployed for a year after that". However, Adams stated that it "was the first time she knew she could act at that level with those people. To be believed in by Steven Spielberg... it was a huge confidence booster". She starred in The Last Run in 2004 as well as voicing characters on animated television series King of the Hill. In the same year, she was cast in the television series, Dr. Vegas, in the role of Alice Doherty but was later fired after a contract dispute.
Right after Amy Adams left Dr. Vegas, she received the script for Junebug, a low-budget independent film, and auditioned for the role of Ashley Johnsten on the following day. Director Phil Morrison decided to cast Adams as the innocent and talkative Ashley after "Lots of people looked at Ashley and thought, 'What's the sorrow she's masking?'" and the fact that Adams "didn't approach it from the angle of 'What's she covering up?' was key."The film was shot in 21 days in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where she won the 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 received further numerous critical accolades and awards for her performance in Junebug, including the National Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting Actress and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female. She was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture at the 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards and Best Supporting Actress at the 78th Academy Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited Adams to become a member in 2006.
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, 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". Enchanted was both a commercial and critical success, with critics calling it a star-making vehicle for Adams the way Mary Poppins was for Julie Andrews. For her performance, Adams received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and a Critics' Choice Award nomination for Best Actress. At the 2008 Saturn Awards she won the Best Actress award for her role in Enchanted. Three of the film's songs were nominated for Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards. After Enchanted, Adams appeared in Charlie Wilson's War as the title character's administrative assistant, which saw her co-starring with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The success of Enchanted increased Adams' media exposure during the 2007/2008 film awards season. At the 80th Academy Awards ceremony, she presented the award for Best Original Score and performed "Happy Working Song", one of the nominated songs from Enchanted, live on stage. "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 it was "perfect" for Chenoweth to perform the song since Chenoweth "was a huge inspiration for how she approached Giselle". 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", 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.
Amy Adams starred in three films in 2008: Sunshine Cleaning, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and Doubt. In Sunshine Cleaning, an independent film that was shot in and around Albuquerque, New Mexico from February to March in 2007, Adams plays 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 somewhat mixed reviews and wasn't sold to a distributor as quickly as expected. In Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, a 1939-set film, Adams 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. The film received generally favorable reviews, with critics praising the performances of Adams and McDormand. 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", while Kirk Honeycutt wrote that "Adams more or less reprises her princess from 'Enchanted,' only with a beguiling touch of ditzy naughtiness". When asked whether she is in danger of being typecast, Adams said, "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." 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." In Doubt, an adaptation of John Patrick Shanley's play of the same name, Adams stars as Sister James alongside Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Viola Davis.
Following Doubt, Adams will appear in Julie & Julia with Streep, which is set to be released in 2009, as a frustrated temp secretary Julie Powell, who decides to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She will then portray Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian and will co-star with Mark Ruffalo in the upcoming Noah Baumbach movie Greenburg.
This Amy Adams Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub