Former Chanhassen actor becomes reluctant star
- Article by: Jeff Strickler
- Star Tribune
- August 13, 2005 - 11:00 PM
Amy Adams might have gone to Hollywood, but she's a long way from going Hollywood.
In a city where blowing your horn is the primary pastime, the former member of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres troupe can't even bring herself to talk about the prestigious award she won at the Sundance Film Festival following the debut of the comic-drama "Junebug."
Adams and director Phil Morrison were in the Twin Cities to discuss the film, which opens Friday, when she was asked about her award.
"It was very flattering," she said. "It was for, well --"
As her voice trailed off, she looked to Morrison for help.
"It was the Special Jury Prize for Performance," he explained.
There even have been rumblings of an Oscar nomination. If Adams seemed embarrassed by the Sundance talk, she appeared downright horrified by the O word.
"That's news to me," she assured her visitor. "I don't know anything about that."
She suddenly became intently interested in the salad she was eating. Morrison smiled and jumped in again.
"I've heard about it," he said of the speculation. "It's out there on the Internet."
"Junebug" is a story about a city woman (played by Embeth Davidtz) who goes to visit her husband's family in a small Southern town. Adams plays the wife of the husband's brother, a scatterbrained motormouth whose dialogue consists mostly of nonsense, such as gushing to Davidtz: "You're lucky that you're so tall. You can wear as much makeup as you want."
Adams' visitor calls it a scene-stealing performance. It's meant as a compliment, but she takes it as an insult.
"I hate actors who are scene stealers," she said. "Instead of riding with the scene, they try to steer it. Too much attention is paid to actors who steal scenes. I like people who share scenes. The actors I like the best are the ones who play the role to a T in order to fit in."
She has spent most of her career doing just that. Although she has had some prominent parts, including third billing in last summer's romantic comedy "The Wedding Date," she has avoided media contact. Her only other major brush with reporters came when she played Leonardo DiCaprio's girlfriend in 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."
"And then they only asked me what it was like to kiss Leo," she said.
Adams grew up in Colorado, doing regional theater and working at a Hooters restaurant.
"That was before they got the scanty outfits," she said.
In 1995, then 21, she got a call from Michael Brindisi, the artistic director at Chanhassen.
"He was doing the show 'Crazy for You,' and he remembered seeing me do it in Denver," she said. "He said that he needed a fill-in for someone and asked me if I'd come out. I ended up joining the company and staying here for three years."
It was her first extended stay away from home. She credits the rest of the troupe for making her comfortable in her new environment.
"It was like they became my family," she said. "We were doing eight shows a week. We spent a lot of time together."
At that point, she expected to spend the rest of her life in live theater. Then she was offered a small supporting role in the locally filmed comedy "Drop Dead Gorgeous." She was fascinated by the world of moviemaking.
"I sat behind the sound guy and watched," she said. "At the end of the shoot, Kirstie Alley came up to me and said, 'Come out to Hollywood. You'll be fine.' "
For someone who likes to stay in the background -- literally, in some cases -- Adams had second thoughts about tackling her role in "Junebug."
"The first time I read the script, I said, 'They're going to have to get someone who is out of their mind to play this.' And they did. It was me."
Jeff Strickler is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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