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Amy Adams is surprised she’s an ‘It Girl’

‘I enjoy playing upbeat characters,’ says the ‘Miss Pettigrew’ star

Image: Amy Adams
Peter Kramer / AP
Amy Adams arrives at the premiere of "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day," on March 2 in New York.
By Miki Turner
Entertainment writer
MSNBC contributor
updated 3:30 p.m. ET March 3, 2008

Miki Turner
Entertainment writer
NEW YORK - The past couple of years have been one enchanted ride for Amy Adams. But despite all the good that’s come her way — hit movies, an Academy Award nomination, an Elle magazine cover, last week’s performance on the Oscars and her upcoming hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live” — Hollywood’s new “It Girl” is still a bit uncomfortable with all of her “It-ness.”

“You know until this junket I didn’t even know about it,” Adams said with a nervous laugh. “I always equated ‘It Girls’ to like having a certain type of sexuality. So, for me, I don’t think like that. I don’t associate that with myself at this time. I’ve been working, which is so grounding and you don’t sort of get a sense of the outside world when you working.”

One might be skeptical if this had come from someone else’s mouth, but looking into Adams’ soft blue eyes you can see that she might not know how to deal with “It” right now, but it’s very clear that she’s very happy being “It.” There’s a refreshing sincerity about this former army brat that can’t be faked. That was evident the moment she strolled into the room at the Waldorf Astoria.

Dressed in a forest green smock over black trousers and six-inch black pumps, there’s nothing about Adams that screams “movie star” when she enters a room at the Waldorf Astoria. Her strawberry blonde hair, falling into that familiar Veronica Lake pattern she seems to favor, framed a porcelain face that was almost totally devoid of makeup.

Her wardrobe may have been a bit drab, but Adams couldn’t have been more sunny and delightful as she talked about her new film “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,” channeling the ghosts of divas past, typecasting and how glad she is that she took Kirstie Alley’s advice back in 1999. Adams met Alley on the set of “Drop Dead Gorgeous” in Minnesota and the veteran actress encouraged the struggling young day player who had only done regional theater up to that point to go west.

“I’m very glad,” Adams said with a slight sigh. “It led me on a very different path than I had intended for myself. I think the idea of Hollywood didn’t make any sense to me. It wasn’t on my radar at all. Acting in films was like something that special people did. When I met people that were in films and realized that they were just people, it helped make it more of a reality. And having her saying I could work… It’s weird, sometimes you just need a little kick in the butt.”

‘Amy’s kind of all-around cool’
Since then Adams, who once dreamed of becoming a ballerina or appearing in Broadway musicals, has been working steadily in films and TV. Her first big feature film was “Catch Me If You Can,” followed by her Oscar-nominated turn in “Junebug.” She also played Will Ferrell’s mousy assistant in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” an engaging princess in “Enchanted,” Tom Hanks’ congressional assistant in “Charlie Wilson’s War” and an opportunistic American actress named Delysia Lafosse, who unashamedly used her feminine wiles woo men — many men — into advancing her career as a stage actress in “Miss Pettigrew.”

“Amy’s kind of all-around cool to work with,” said Lee Pace, who plays Delysia’s jilted boyfriend Michael in the ’30s period film set in London. “She’s great. That girl is a movie star. She’s beautiful, fun and smart and really, really talented. She comes on the set every day having a good time. She’s bouncing around, kind of doing the character and she’s exhausted by the end of the day because she just gives so much to it.”

Adams plays opposite Oscar winner Frances McDormand in this screwball comedy about a recently fired governess named Guinevere Pettigrew, who intercepts a job lead meant for someone else from the agency that has just kicked her to the curb. Homeless, hungry and broke, Miss Pettigrew scurries meets up with Delysia, who is trying to get rid of the man upstairs in her bed because the man who actually owns the bed is on his way home.

Miss Pettigrew, of course, saves the day.

“It was really attractive to me to get to play someone who has several different veneers that she puts on for different people,” Adams said. “She is an actress in her life, so an actress playing an actress was fun.”

Adams also got a kick channeling some of the great screwball comedy actresses from the past like Carole Lombard, who is mentioned in the film, Judy Holliday, Myrna Loy and the original “It Girl” Clara Bow.

“It was something I thought about a lot,” Adams said. “I watched the movies and I did take from them. I thought that (Delysia) was the kind of person who would have watched movies and thought she was just as good as them and try to act like them in her real life. I did try to channel them. I don’t know if they were really there!”

‘I enjoy playing upbeat characters’
For those who saw Adams playing Giselle in “Enchanted,” the similarities between that character and the one she plays in “Miss Pettigrew” are immediately apparent. In both films Adams sings, provides the comic relief and plays someone who is over the top. To some, it might appear as though she’s being typecast, but Adams, who will next play a nun opposite Meryl Streep in “Doubt,” is quick to dismiss that notion.

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“Not at this point,” Adams said wistfully when asked whether she’s in danger of being typed. “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.”

These days Adams, who was one of seven kids born to a Mormon serviceman and his wife, doesn’t get back home much. She was born in Italy but raised in a small town in Colorado that she couldn’t wait to leave. Her family, however, has to deal with her even when she’s not around.

“People are always asking them questions about me and I’m not the best communicator so they don’t always know the answers, so it’s a little frustrating for them,” said Adams, whose brother works for TMZ. One of the reasons she doesn’t really keep her kin up-to-date, however, is because there’s often not much to say.

“I’m not that interesting,” she deadpanned. “I don’t do interesting things. I think part of it is that I’m a little bit older so I don’t have a nightlife that involves anything other than going to get Mexican food! I don’t know what it is. I would think that there are a lot of people in L.A. who do not appreciate that attention, but who get it. So, in a way, its just luck that they haven’t found me that interesting yet, which is great.”

Miki Turner is currently co-producing a film on girls and gangs with actor/director Bill Duke. She can be reached at

© 2008 MSNBC Interactive
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