Name: Amy Lou Adams
Date of Birth: August 20, 1974
Place of Birth: Aviano, Pordenone, Italy
Raised in: Castle Rock, Colorado, USA
Height: 5′ 4″ (1.63 m)
Education: Graduated from Douglas County High School (Colorado)
Family: Parents Kathryn and Richard Adams, six siblings
Marital Status: Engaged to Darren Le Gallo (boyfriend since 2001)
Childen: Aviana Olea Legallo, born May 15 2010
Early years: Amy Adams in 1992
Amy Lou Adams was born August 20, 1974 to her American parents, Kathryn and Richard Adams, in Aviano, Pordenone, Italy. During the time her father was a US serviceman stationed in the country. The Adams family moved to Castle Rock, Colorado when she was very little. Amy is the middle child of seven. “There’s a lot of stuff about not getting enough attention, but the truth is, with seven kids, no one’s getting enough of anything,” she says. “It was like Lord of the Flies. We were all close in age, all very high energy.” Amy grew up in a very creative family. Her father was a singer performing in nightclubs, restaurants and officers’ clubs. “He did covers of doo-wop songs from the 1950s, some 1960s music. He played the guitar and had a keyboard that he played with his feet. He’d wear sparkly socks and I thought he was the coolest guy ever.” The Adams family also used to regularly stage homegrown theatrical productions from Richard’s scripts. Her parents were Mormons, and they brought their children up within the faith until Amy was 12, when they separated and left the church. “I can’t speak for everybody,” she says of her religious upbringing. “But I know it instilled in me a value system I still hold true. The basic ‘Do unto others…’ That was what was hammered into me. And love.”
Throughout high school, Adams sang with the school choir, trained in ballet at the David Taylor Dance Company, was active in regional theater and focused on art and sculpture. Art teacher Larry Alexander said Amy “had the quiet intensity of a perfectionist.” She belonged to something called “humanities,” which was a theater hot spot. Amy never really belonged to any one group in high school, though. “I wanted to but I sort of fell through the cracks. It’s not that anyone was mean to me; I just think that for the most part people were indifferent, and sometimes that hurts worse. You know, ‘She’s nice enough but…’ And I didn’t have time to do much of anything outside of school because of ballet.”
Amy Adams performing on stage in State Fair at Chanhassen Dinner Theater in 1997
Young Amy was also a promising athlete, an area in which her parents encouraged her so she could win a college scholarship. “There was not enough money to put all the kids through school,” she says. “They were a little disappointed when I stopped doing athletics to dance.” Her ambition was to be a ballerina. Throughout her high school years, “which didn’t hold a lot for me socially or academically”, she would try to scrape a C average that would permit her to continue training as an apprentice at the David Taylor Dance Company. At 18, however, Adams came to the realization that “I am never going to be that good, no matter how hard I work. I got into musical theater, which was much better suited to my personality. It was like, ‘OK, this fits.'” Her mother knew Amy was going to be a star when she was rushed into service by Boulder’s Dinner theater for A Chorus Line after another actor was injured. “She learned all the songs and dances by video,” Kathryn Adams said. “When she went on stage, she hadn’t had any time with the rest of the cast, and she was phenomenal.” Amy also worked at Country Dinner Playhouse in Denver.
After graduating from Douglas County High School, Amy worked as a greeter at The Gap in Atlanta (“I lived in Virginia Highlands, Atlanta. I worked at the Lenox Mall in the Gap. I wanted to work in the stockroom, but I was just too peppy. I tried, they were like ‘No, you have to be at the front of the store. You are the only person who will literally talk to everyone who comes in the store.'”) and a waitress at Hooters (“It was fine. It took care of me for a while.”) Adams moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities in mid-1990s and she landed a job with the prestigious Chanhassen Dinner Theater – the largest dinner theater in the country. Chanhassen director Michael Brindisi says: “Let’s get down to the facts. Amy, Amy. She’s a sweetheart. I discovered her, and I want a piece of her career.” Brindisi first saw her when he was casting for Crazy for You in Denver. “She jumped right off the stage; she was just magnetic.” Amy worked at the dinner theater for a total of three years. “They were great years. I loved it,” she says. “There’s such a work ethic involved in theater that you can’t learn in LA… Working eight shows a week in the round — there is nothing like it in LA, that’s for sure.” It was while starring in the dinner theater that Adams and her undeniable charisma caught the eye of Michael Nelson, a film producer. The following year, she made her big screen debut as a goofy beauty pageant contestant in the mockudrama, Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), which was filmed in Minnesota. The premiere of the film took Amy Adams to Los Angeles. Urged by co-star Kirstie Alley, she moved to the city of angels with her brother Eddie when she was 24-years old. “Moving to LA 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 Kristie saying I could work… It’s weird, sometimes you just need a little kick in the butt.”
Amy Adams as Brenda Strong in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Once in Los Angeles, she was quickly introduced to manager Stacy Boniello of The Firm. “I had a cousin who lived out here whose friend was represented by her, and, basically, Boniello took a meeting with me to sort of be nice to the friend. I think she called New Line, which I had worked with on Drop Dead Gorgeous, and I guess they said some positive things, and so she decided to work with me during pilot season.” She was cast in Manchester Prep, a TV series prequel to the film Cruel Intentions, where Adams played Kathryn Merteuil. When a conflict arose between Fox Broadcasting and Columbia TriStar, shooting ceased and the existing footage was edited into the straight-to-video feature titled Cruel Intentions 2 (2000). While Amy says she would like to try her hand at darker roles, she did not enjoy this particular character. “I couldn’t find anything redeeming about her. I didn’t like her. I kind of didn’t want to be her,” she says. “When I first came to Los Angeles, I was the go-to bitch. I mean, if you needed a slutty bitch, I was her!” Amy made her second film appearance as Marvel Ann in the campy indie comedy Psycho Beach Party (2000) and went to to appear in episodes for various television shows, including That ’70s Show, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Smallville. “I was the guest-spot queen,” says Amy. She also filmed a role for The Chromium Hook (2000), which took rounds in the film festival circuit. In 2002 she had small roles in The Slaughter Rule and Pumpkin, appeared in Serving Sara with Matthew Perry and in an episode of her favorite show The West Wing. In 2002, she also filmed Pennies, a short film penned by her brother Eddie. It was screened years later, in 2006.
Next, Amy Adams scored herself a meaty film role as she was cast opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Steven Spielberg’s stylish con chronicle, Catch Me If You Can (2002). Casting director Debbie Zane showed her work to Spielberg, who showed it to DiCaprio and they were both immediately sold. Amy’s performance as Brenda Strong was certainly memorable and acclaimed by both the critics and movie fans alike. “Catch Me If You Can – it was the first time I knew I could act at that level with those people. To be believed in by Steven Spielberg… It was a huge confidence booster. I knew I could work, but at what level? I still hope to discover more levels, but that experience, and the way I was embraced on that set, let me know I could do this.” However, Amy was unemployed for a year after the film came out. “Amy got tons of attention for the role, and she deserved every bit of it,” Spielberg says. “What surprised me was how little she worked after our film came out, which, by the way, was a big hit. But the offers were not pouring in for Amy. That was the part that should have launched her career,” Spielberg continues. “But after the movie was released, she was no better off than she was before.”
In 2004 Adams had a supporting role in the indie drama The Last Run, voiced several characters on King of the Hill and was cast in the CBS drama Dr. Vegas, in the role of Alice Doherty – but she was later fired after a contract dispute. “They were trying to change my contract and I said no to the compromise, so I was let go. I think for women, it takes a while to take control of decisions. You think that everything is fate or destiny, you don’t really make your choices. I think that summer was the first time I was able to say that I didn’t want to follow through with it and deal with the consequences. It was really empowering. At the end of the summer I was unemployed but I was happy and I was proud. I was like, you know what, I’m done with being pushed around.” Dr. Vegas was cancelled shortly after. Amy Adams, however, was destined for far bigger and better things.
The lovable Ashley Johnsten in Junebug (2005)
In 2005 Amy Adams appeared as Debra Messing’s sister in the comedy The Wedding Date. Next, Amy was cast in the indie drama Junebug, a film that would come to change the direction of her career. Director Phil Morrison had seen Amy in Catch Me If You Can but, according to her, “my being around for the casting was basically a fluke. I was in the midst of shooting what I will now refer to as “That Television Show,” [Dr. Vegas] and I was supposed to be in Las Vegas; but the studio sent me home because they weren’t going to use me for a few days. I was angry about that, but as it turned out, I had the audition for Junebug that weekend.” Junebug was shot in 21 days in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, over the summer of 2004. Amy has described that time as “the summer I grew into myself.” She even ended up adopting Ashley’s red hair color after the film, despite being a natural blonde. Adams turned 30 that year; her two sisters were pregnant, while Adams was wearing her nine-months-gone prosthetic belly. Amy’s outstanding performance as Ashley Johnsten earned her a Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, which boosted her confidence immensely. She went on to receive numerous accolades for her performance, including the Best Supporting Actress nod from the National Society of Film Critics, and an Academy Award nomination, which, eventually, went to Rachel Weisz. “Things have happened at the right time,” she says. “I’m glad I didn’t become crazy-successful on moving to LA. Your twenties are brutal, a hard time. I would have been too self-conscious.” Adams says that she was even glad not to have won the Oscar for Junebug. “I wasn’t prepared for the kind of attention that would have brought. And I’m terrified of public speaking.” She recalls she spent the ceremony excited to be “there as a witness, as I thought Rachel Weisz was going to win. Then at some point during Dolly Parton’s song I turned to my boyfriend and said, ‘What if I win?’ I think I’m the only person in Oscar history that looks relieved at the announcement of somebody else’s name.”
Although Junebug had a limited audience, Adams’ critically acclaimed performance in the film helped to boost the interest in her acting career. Amy went on to appear in Standing Still (2005) and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), where she played an assistant to Will Ferrell’s NASCAR racing protagonist. She memorably confesses her love for him in a bar and then consummates that love in one of the booths. Amy played the recurring guest role of Katy on the television series The Office, an experience which she calls “one of the best experiences I could have had as an actress.” She filmed a cameo for Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) because she’s a fan of Jack Black, had another small role in Fast Track (2006) and provided voice for the character of Polly Purebred in Walt Disney Pictures’ Underdog (2007).
A star-making performance in Disney’s Enchanted (2007)
It was late 2007 with her star-making performance as Giselle in the Disney hit Enchanted (2007) that truly saw the rise of Amy Adams. The actress was amongst 300 or so actresses who auditioned for the role, but she stood out to director Kevin Lima because of her “commitment to the character, her ability to escape into the character’s being without ever judging the character was overwhelming.” He continues: “Amy was absolutely my only choice. The day she came in I had a fever and was as sick as a dog, but during her audition she made me completely forget I was sick.” Amy was practically unknown when she auditioned so the director and the studio made a risky move in casting Amy – and it truly paid in the end as it is Amy Adams’ performance that truly makes the picture stand out! In Enchanted Amy sings, dances and acts her heart out and, in result, she won the hearts of cinema goers world wide. Enchanted was both a commercial and critical success garnering Adams Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice, and Satellite Award nominations and making her a real box office star. Wrapping up her break-out year as a film star, Adams played Bonnie Bach, a supporting role as a loyal, adoring assistant of the Texas governor in Charlie Wilson’s War, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
Sunshine Cleaning premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. In it Amy plays Rose Lorkowski, who, in order to raise the tuition to send her son to private school, starts an unusual business – a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service, together with her unreliable sister (Emily Blunt). Next up for Amy was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008), a drama-comedy set in 1939 London. In it Amy plays the glamorous actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse, opposite one of her personal favorite actresses, Frances McDormand. Miss Pettigrew received mixed reviews but Amy’s performance was received favorably. “She’s a survivor. She’s a bootstrap girl”, says Amy of her character. “She’s living a life that isn’t organic to her, and I can honestly say that I feel that way at times. In a way, everybody does, but I never thought I’d be where I am today, so I really related to her in the struggle to survive.”
In late 2007 Amy began filming the intense drama Doubt in New York with two of her acting heroes, Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In Doubt, which opens at the end of the year, Streep plays a nun suspecting a priest of abuse, and Adams is a nun caught in the middle. It’s an adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. “The character had no vanity, so you never worried about what you looked like. I learned to listen and not talk. It’s a hard lesson. It’s a good one to know,” Amy says. “It taught me about simplicity, and that I’ll never be Meryl Streep. It’s not a bad thing! It goes back to having your own path. She’s so exquisite, just so exquisite.” After Doubt, Amy re-teamed with Streep for Julie & Julia (2009). She’s Julie Powell, an amateur chef who decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s classic cookbook. Streep plays culinary legend Julia Child. Up next for Amy Adams is the role of the legendary Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum 2: Escape from the Smithsonian (2009).
Chasing Amy: Adams on set for the annual Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue cover shoot
Amy, who was crowned the new ‘It Girl’, caught plenty of media attention in 2008. At the 80th Academy Awards ceremony, Adams presented the award for Best Original Score and performed “Happy Working Song”, one of the nominated songs from Enchanted, live on stage. As well as appearing on the covers of Interview, Elle and the annual Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair, Adams hosted the seventh episode of the 33rd season of Saturday Night Live in March 2008 and appeared in numerous talk shows. Late 2008 also brought more professional attention to Amy, she made the cover of Vanity Fair once more, this time solo in a tribute to Rita Hayworth and was busy promoting Doubt in multiple countries. In her personal life, Amy became engaged to long time romance Darren Le Gallo. Darren proposed to her in a carriage in Central Park, NY.
In January 2009 Amy Adams garnered multiple award nominations for her restrained and innocent performance in Doubt; including a BAFTA, Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and her second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
As of late Amy has appeared in several big Hollywood productions. She appeared alongside Matthew Goode in Leap Year in March of 2009, as an uptight woman who travels to Dublin to propose to her boyfriend on leap day, Feb. 29, following an Irish tradition in which women propose to men on that day and the man has to say yes. When weather derails her trip, she enlists the help of a surly Irish innkeeper to make an unexpected cross-country trek to pull off the perfect proposal in time. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba was written by Karen Croner is based on the bio of NPR correspondent Jacki Lyden, centers on how a woman uses her mother’s madness and delusions to empower herself. Finally Ten Best Days of My Life will not only see Amy starring but also will make her debut as a producer. She became involved with the project after Shawn Levy (attached director) discovered her reading the book while filming Night at the Museum 2. In it, Amy Adams will play a woman who dies and goes to heaven but is in danger of being demoted to a lower level of paradise unless she can prove herself by recounting her 10 best days.The novel was published by Penguin last May.
During her private time, she enjoys hosting dinner parties and going out to eat. She loves Mexican food. Adams lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend of seven years, artist/actor Darren Le Gallo, and two dogs, named Pippy and Sadie. She recently gave birth to a precious baby girl, named Aviana Olea Legallo, on May 15, 2010.
There is definitely something very special about Amy Adams. She’s a versatile talent and her approach to acting is natural and fresh. On screen she is absolutely irresistible – she simply sparkles! Perhaps co-star Meryl Streep says it best: “Amy has a little light on inside her that burns — sometimes a soft light, sometimes a hot little blue flame, but you are aware always of the light. It is her immediacy as an actress, that present quality that makes her special.”
Note: This is not an official biography. All information has been gathered from various interviews and articles and is accurate according to our best knowledge. For more details regarding Amy’s movies, please see their individual information pages.
Biography © Amy Adams Fan, 2008
Last Updated: July 2010