Amy Lou Adams was born August 20, 1974 and is an American actress.
She was born to American parents Richard and Kathryn Adams, when her father was stationed with the United States Army at the Caserma Ederle military complex in Vicenza, Italy.
She is the middle of seven children, with four brothers and two sisters.
After moving from one army base to another, Adams’s family settled in Castle Rock, Colorado, when she was eight. After leaving the army, her father sang professionally in nightclubs and restaurants. The family was poor; they camped and hiked together, and performed amateur skits usually written by her father and sometimes by her mother. Adams was enthusiastic about the plays and always played the lead.
Adams was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until her parents divorced in 1985 and left the church. She did not have strong religious beliefs, but has said that she valued her upbringing for teaching her love and compassion. After the breakup, her father moved to Arizona and remarried, while the children remained with their mother.Her mother became a semi-professional bodybuilder who took the children with her to the gym when she trained.
Adams attended Douglas County High School. She was not academically inclined, but was interested in the creative arts and sang in the school choir. She competed in track and gymnastics, harbored ambitions of becoming a ballerina, and trained as an apprentice at the local David Taylor Dance Company. She disliked high school and kept mostly to herself. After graduation, she and her mother moved to Atlanta, Georgia. She did not go to college, which disappointed her parents, and she later regretted not pursuing higher education. At age 18, Adams realized she was not gifted enough to be a professional ballerina, and found musical theater more to her taste. One of her first stage roles was in a community theater production of Annie, which she did on a volunteer basis. To support herself, she worked as a greeter at a Gap store. She also worked as a waitress at Hooters, but left the job after she saved enough money to buy a used car.
Adams made her feature film debut with a supporting part in the 1999 satire Drop Dead Gorgeous. After moving to Los Angeles, she made guest appearances in television and took on “mean girl” parts in small-scale features. Her first major role came in Steven Spielberg’s biopic film Catch Me If You Can (2002), opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, but she was unemployed for a year afterward. Her breakthrough came in the part of a loquacious pregnant woman in the independent comedy-drama film Junebug (2005).
Later in 2005, Adams had supporting parts in the romantic comedy The Wedding Date and Standing Still. Also that year, she joined the cast of the television series The Office, for a recurring role over three episodes. In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, a sports comedy from Adam McKay, Adams played the romantic interest of Will Ferrell’s character. She also had a minor role in the workplace comedy The Ex.
Adams starred as a highly optimistic and joyous Disney Princess named Giselle in the musical romantic comedy Enchanted. Following its success, Adams took on the part of Bonnie Bach, Congressman Charlie Wilson’s assistant in Mike Nichols’ political comedy-drama Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In 2008 she starred in Sunshine Cleaning, a comedy-drama about two sisters (played by Adams and Emily Blunt) who start a crime scene clean-up business. In the 1939-set screwball comedy Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Adams starred as an aspiring American actress in London who encounters a middle-aged governess named Miss Pettigrew (played by Frances McDormand).
Adams next starred in Doubt, an adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s play of the same name. The production tells the story of a Catholic school principal (played by Meryl Streep) who accuses a priest (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) of pedophilia; Adams features as an innocent nun embroiled in the conflict.
The 2009 fantasy adventure film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, starring Ben Stiller, featured Adams as the aviator Amelia Earhart. That same year, Adams starred in the comedy-drama Julie & Julia as disgruntled government secretary Julie Powell who decides to blog about the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking; in a parallel storyline, Meryl Streep portrays Child.
Adams began the new decade with a leading role opposite Matthew Goode in the romantic comedy Leap Year (2010). Her next release of the year was the boxing drama The Fighter.
Adams took another “fierce woman” part in Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological drama The Master (2012). She played Peggy Dodd, the ruthless and manipulative wife of the leader of a cult (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). It marked her third and final collaboration with Hoffman, whom she deeply admired, before his death two years later. The organization depicted in the film was deemed by journalists to be based on Scientology; Adams considered the comparison to be misleading but was glad for the attention it brought to the film. Although not a method actor, Adams believed that the intense role had left her on edge in her personal life.
In 2013, she began portraying Lois Lane in superhero films set in the DC Extended Universe.
Further success came to Adams when she reteamed with David O. Russell in the crime film American Hustle. Adams starred in Big Eyes (2014), a biopic of the troubled artist Margaret Keane, whose paintings of “big-eyed waifs” were plagiarized by her husband Walter Keane. When she was first offered the part, she passed on it to avoid playing another naïve woman. The birth of her daughter in 2010 prompted Adams to find strength in the passive character, and she drew upon her real-life experiences where she had not stood up for herself. In preparation, she practiced painting and studied the way Keane worked. Keane liked Adams’s portrayal of her.
Further acclaim came for playing a linguist in the science fiction film Arrival (2016), an art gallery owner in the thriller film Nocturnal Animals (2016), a self-harming reporter in the miniseries Sharp Objects (2018), and Lynne Cheney in the satirical film Vice (2018).
In 2020, Adams starred in Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Hillbilly Elegy for Netflix.
Adams will next star as an agoraphobic murder witness in The Woman in the Window, based on the mystery novel of the same name. Adams is also set to reprise her role as Giselle in the sequel to Enchanted, titled Disenchanted, which will premiere on Disney+.
Adams works closely with her acting coach Warner Loughlin, whom she credits with helping her organize and structure her thoughts. She uses an acting method Loughlin has taught her, in which she attempts an understanding of her character’s psychology by creating the character’s backstory from age three. Adams prefers to work with confident directors who give her space to think for herself. She stays in character during filming, and finds it difficult to detach herself from roles and accents. She is not influenced by the size of a role and is drawn to both leading and supporting parts. She has described herself as an obsessive performer.
Adams finds little value in celebrity. She attracts little gossip or tabloid attention, and strives to keep a healthy work-life balance. Adams makes an effort to remain unaffected by her fame, believing that it would hinder her ability to play roles with honesty. She has spoken about suffering from insecurity and lack of confidence from a young age and about how motherhood had made her calmer. She frequently breaks into song when stressed at work. Adams has joined other actors in calling for equal pay for women in the film industry, but she finds that actresses are too often asked to explain the gender pay gap and feels the questions should be directed instead to producers.
Having experienced difficulty in her early years in the film industry, Adams works closely with underprivileged students at New York City’s Ghetto Film School.
She supports the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that helps troubled LGBT teenagers. In 2013, she launched the book The Beauty Book for Brain Cancer to help raise money for brain cancer charities Snog and Headrush. The following year, she attended a charity event at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, to raise funds for sexually abused children. In 2020, Adams teamed with actress Jennifer Garner to launch a campaign named #SaveWithStories to promote children’s education during school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.