You could say Amy Adams is a Jill of all acting trades.
She earned her first Oscar nomination playing a talkative pregnant young adult in Junebug. Her second nod arrived with her portrayal of a sweet nun in Doubt and she picked up her third for her performance as a brawling bartender in The Fighter.
Next year, we can see Adams reinventing Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel, set for theatres in June 2013.
For more immediate examples of her range, check out The Master and Trouble With the Curve, both opening Sept. 21.
In The Master, she defines the manipulative wife of a 1950s cult leader (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). Trouble With the Curve features her take on a modern woman coping with her laconic dad (played by Clint Eastwood).
Even Adams conceded that the roles are strikingly different.
“I shot them a year apart, so I am glad I didn’t have to go back-to-back or shoot them at the same time,” said a perky Adams in a Four Seasons Hotel suite. “That would have been difficult, but I always enjoy accepting challenges.”
Trouble With the Curve was especially challenging because of the company she was keeping. She had to go toe-to-toe with the iconic Eastwood. Intimidated at first, Adams got into the swing of things quickly with the easygoing actor.
Eastwood plays Gus in the comedy-drama. He’s an aging baseball scout who begrudgingly enlists his daughter Mickey (Adams) to assist him on an important recruiting trip when his eyes start failing.
Mickey, named after legend Mickey Mantle, is a baseball expert but also a successful lawyer on the fast track to becoming a partner. She risks the promotion to help her stoic father.
As they struggle with past dysfunctions, the father and daughter try to reconcile with assistance from a competing scout (played by Justin Timberlake) who is falling for Mickey.
“I enjoyed being a contemporary character,” said Adams of Mickey. “She’s someone I could be friends with, someone who has a lot of the same issues I have.”
On the other hand, “I felt really exposed and vulnerable playing someone so similar to myself, but at the same time it was a great opportunity to explore a father-and-daughter relationship.”
She did have to train for one facet of her part. Not much of a baseball player, the actress had a coach to show her how to throw a ball and a swing a bat with the authority of a female who grew up playing the sport.
The dancer, and former gymnast, pulled it off. Even Eastwood was impressed.
“The great thing about Amy is that she’s really athletic and she can run,” he said. “She’s obviously developed a little bit of tomboy attitude somewhere in her life.”
In another scene, she does a cartwheel while rounding the bases, and that was all her. “I do have to take credit for knowing how to do that.”
Incidentally, Timberlake said he was, at first, as intimidated by Adams as she was of Eastwood.
“Amy’s elite in this craft,” said Timberlake, who became buddies with his co-star. “She’s amazing at really finding so much of herself in every character that she embodies.”
In dancing sequences with their characters, it was Adams leading the way and Timberlake following. That’s especially true for a scene when they do some clogging at a roadhouse bar.
“She’s an extremely good clogger,” said Timberlake. “That’s true,” agreed Adams.
She grew up in Castle Rock, Colo., one of seven kids, and an army brat who learned how to be resilient.
A professional performer by the age of 20, Adams survived in show business by doing the dinner-theatre circuit.
In 1999, she finally managed a cameo in the beauty-pageant spoof Drop Dead Gorgeous that led to TV guest spots on Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville and The West Wing. In 2002, her role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can helped too, and so did the Junebug part and her supporting actress Oscar nomination.
A co-starring role in Will Ferrell’s box-office smash Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby showed off her comedy chops.
And, Adams broke out as Princess Giselle in 2007’s Enchanted. The musical comedy featured her singing and dancing and went on to earn more than $340 million US worldwide.
But she’s not all about portraying sunshine and lollipops, as her role in The Master attests.
“That was a totally surreal process,” she said of her demanding part in the Paul Thomas Anderson movie. “I had to lose myself in a character not like me at all. It doesn’t feel good at the end of the day, but I did it.”