An Oscar-nominated role in Junebug, a singing-dancing hit with Enchanted, a part opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep in next month’s Doubt, then Nora Ephron’s Julie & Julia, and a big sequel, Night at the Museum 2: Amy Adams has got to be the fastest-rising star in Hollywood. Amazingly, she nearly didn’t rise at all. Michael Shnayerson hears about her run of canceled shows and dropped parts, her decision to quit the business, and her fiancé, actor Darren Le Gallo, who is handling Adams’s breakthrough like a true prince.
BY MICHAEL SHNAYERSON
Promptly at noon, Amy Adams knocks on the door of a penthouse suite at the glamorous Sunset Tower Hotel, in West Hollywood, and shimmers in with the happy, hammy air of an actress who riffs at the drop of a hat. She’s dressed simply, in a white cotton peasant-style blouse, old jeans, and sandals; her light-auburn hair is loosely brushed and falls to her shoulders. She has aquiline features and perfect porcelain skin, but it’s the way she moves—dramatically, with that sense of theatuh, as she would say—that really marks her as the actress she is.
Outside on the balcony, we take in the wide view of L.A., undulating out to the Pacific. Our eyes come to rest, inevitably, on the humongous black-and-white image of Jennifer Aniston endorsing Smartwater that occupies the entire side wall of the Hyatt hotel, just across Sunset Boulevard. Twelve stories high, she seems pumped up to this size by the endless tabloid coverage of her personal life.
This is a sad thought for any writer embarking on a story about Amy Adams, wholesome star of last year’s magical Disney movie musical Enchanted, for since its great success ($339 million worldwide), transforming Adams into a top-tier star with a reported income of $l4.5 million last year (ninth among Hollywood actresses), she has embarked on no whirlwind romances, let alone taken after certain Hollywood bad girls by staggering glassy-eyed out of clubs at four a.m. or getting arrested for drunken driving on Pacific Coast Highway One. This, she’s assured disingenuously, is just great. She seems to have …
“Not gotten caught?”
Maybe that’s it.
“There’s still time,” she says sweetly.
With a boyfriend of six years who just became her fiancé? No way.
“But you know,” Adams says, taking in the city view with a sweep of the hand bearing her new engagement ring, “I’ve been here for 10 years. I’m just grateful I didn’t have to spend my early 20s in front of paparazzi cameras.”
In those days, Adams worked eight shows a week in dinner theater in Minnesota. Ten years later—she’s just turned 34—she’s experienced enough to be very, very pragmatic about her hard-earned success, and to feel it happened just when it should have.
“Of course it’s always easy to talk on the other side of it,” she says, catching herself before she turns too serious. “Had you seen me at 27, I would have been like … ” Curtain rises on barroom floozy, alone, stage right: “ ‘Let me tell you, I got stories for you!’ ”
Cheery, unpretentious, and, she admits, so focused on her work that phone messages from her friends go unreturned for days, Adams is, as Enchanted proved, a triple threat—singer, dancer, and comedienne. In that, she’s a bit of a throwback: think Rita Hayworth or Ginger Rogers, queens of the movie musical at its peak. Yet she’s a serious dramatic actress, too: her poignant performance in the sleeper independent film Junebug(2005), as a small-town southern belle whose wide-eyed optimism is sorely tested, won her an Oscar nomination and a place in the pantheon of young American actors who matter.
In a sizzling film version of John Patrick Shanley’s Tony- and Pulitzer-winning Broadway play,Doubt (2005), coming out in December, Adams plays another character whose faith is shaken. Young Sister James is horrified when her mother superior (Meryl Streep) suspects their parish priest, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman), of making physical advances on one of their Catholic-school boys. The movie, written and directed by Shanley, has scenes of sustained dialogue in which Hoffman and Streep do brilliant battle. One of its several revelations is that Adams—the “fulcrum” between these two giants, as Shanley puts it—more than holds her own. She shines.
“Her accessibility was what first struck me—she’s so present,” says Streep. “That’s what I felt from seeing Enchanted. When she came to work, I wasn’t disappointed. She was so open, no guard, no nothing.” Yet, as Streep noted in rehearsal-room readings, the newcomer knew her craft. “She’s a very, very skillful actress. She’s deft. She has all those things we should know about but that we’re not supposed to talk about—technique. Everyone has a different approach, but she was very, very well prepared. I have to tell you: it’s not common with younger actors.”
Streep’s Sister Aloysius is tough and cynical, world-weary; Adams’s Sister James is the beatific innocent, still radiating faith in humanity in general and Father Flynn in particular. “It’s breathtaking, her radiance,” Streep says. “It made it very simple for Sister Aloysius to look at her and imagine her own untrammeled self before the world had gotten to her, and to feel protective of her.
“This is hard to talk about without disabusing the director [Shanley], who thinks she is pure as the driven snow,” Streep adds with a laugh. But, for all of Adams’s guilelessness, “there’s a gigantic intelligence dictating what line she won’t cross, and where she will go off. She’s got a shape in her mind for the arc of this character’s life, a little map for where she’s going to go.
“I was just very impressed,” says Streep. “She’s the real thing.”
Perfect fit as she was for Sister James, no one thought to call Adams for the role when the script started circulating last year. Emily Blunt, her co-star in Sunshine Cleaning—an independent movie that stirred buzz at this year’s Sundance Festival—read it and declared she’d found Adams her next film. “Amy was by far the best person for that part,” says Blunt, explaining her hunch. “She has a glow of innocence that isn’t naïve, just positive and determined. That, and I wanted to see those eyes peeping out from underneath a nun’s headgear.”
“I didn’t audition—I hounded!” Adams admits. “I hounded [producer] Scott Rudin and John Patrick Shanley for months!” Another actor was attached to the part, so Adams was told to forget it. Still, she flew to New York and called Shanley with the old ruse that she was already there on other business, and could they just meet for coffee? “I’m a tenacious person, but I’m not usually that sort of dog-with-a-bone,” says Adams. “But I just loved Doubt. I loved the delicacy of it.”
“We met at the Cupcake Café on 18th Street,” recalls Shanley. They didn’t talk directly about the part, though both knew why they were there, and Shanley knew, in moments, that he’d found his Sister James. “Her natural, deferential charm and openness were traits the character needed to have,” he says. “And she had the look for it, and was self-effacing, as Sister James was—and smart as a whip.”
It was a case of be careful what you wish for: once she had the part, Adams started worrying—a lot—about whether she had the chops to carry off those long scenes with two of America’s greatest actors. Shanley remembers her saying, “I just have to come out of this alive!” After Enchanted,she’d worked with Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War, but not closely. (He played the embittered C.I.A. agent who knows what America should be doing to thwart the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; she’s the perky assistant to Tom Hanks’s Congressman Wilson.) Streep she’d never met.
To gird herself, Adams went back to the play and matched it line by line against the script to see what was in and what was out. “There was a lot of dialogue for my character that was left out [of the script],” Adams explains. “Which was fine—it wasn’t stuff that needed to be said. But I wanted to know that it had been said, so I knew what the intention was.” Adams was still gripped by stage fright as the other two read. She didn’t realize that, across the table, Streep was quietly impressed by her preparation: “She knew the play better than I!”
The film, like the play, leaves open the question of whether Father Flynn did take liberties with one of the boys. As he’d done with the play’s leading man, Brian F. O’Byrne, Shanley confided the answer to Hoffman—the priest has to know what he himself has done, after all—but kept it from Streep and Adams. That way, their doubts would be real and unresolved. “Which was great,” Adams says, “because even in front of the camera it forced me as an actress—and as a person!—to really watch him to see: Did he? Did he not?”
“I was like, ‘Mom, you cannot tell everybody who comes in to get a latte [at Starbucks] that your daughter is an Oscar nominee,’ ” recalls Adams. Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; styled by Michael Roberts.
The filming—on the campus of the College of Mount Saint Vincent, in Riverdale, New York—took on a somber, almost spooky vibe with both Streep and Adams in their black habits, especially before the demanding long scenes. “Before them, Meryl would sit quietly and knit,” Shanley recalls. “Even though she didn’t seem to be doing anything, she needed to be left alone. She was going over in her head what she’d have to do in the scene. So then Amy learned to knit from Meryl—and the two of them would sit there in black like the Fates, knitting away.” But when the shooting was done, Adams threw off her habit to become the life of the wrap party. “We were shooting in Queens at the end, so we had the party in a karaoke bar,” Shanley says. “Amy got hold of the mike and put on a whole show to make that party happen.”
Since then, Adams has gone on to make another film with Streep, Julie & Julia, a tasty concoction consisting of one part cookbook writer Julia Child’s reminiscences of life in France, and one part Julie Powell’s memoir of a year spent trying to cook every recipe in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay that intertwines the two, and directed; Streep plays Julia Child and Adams plays Julie Powell.
Because the stories in Julie & Julia are separate, Adams and Streep did no filming together. They barely saw each other in passing. Thank God, Adams thought more than once, to have doneDoubt first! “To be in a movie with Meryl Streep and I don’t get to act with her! Aaarggh!” But she loved her character. “She’s turning 30 and she lives in this really small apartment, and she’s just watching her life go by. She’s not accomplishing anything she set out to do.”
Ephron is editing the film now in East Hampton, New York, and is thrilled by what she sees. “Amy has an acting style that’s kind of like clear water—you don’t see what she’s doing. She just does it, and it’s simple in the best possible meaning of the word. She is the person she’s playing in everything she does, and that’s the beginning and end of it in a kind of thrilling way. Mike Nichols [who directed Charlie Wilson’s War] says she has the ‘technical gene.’ What’s amazing is that the technique which is there is not visible.”
Unlikely as it seems for an actress who now goes from film to film without a break—she’s also just finished Night at the Museum 2 with Ben Stiller—Adams found it all too easy to identify with the desperate 29-year-old in Julie & Julia. Because at 29, after 10 years as a struggling actress, living in a little apartment with dingy carpeting on Croft Avenue in West Hollywood and worrying about the rent, Amy Adams faced her own existential crisis. Her story is her own, but it’s also the story of the coat-check girl at Joe Allen, and the mailroom temp at William Morris—of all the would-be stars with their 8-by-10 glossies on yet another cattle call, clinging to their Hollywood dreams as their 20s run out. In Adams’s case, only the encouragement of a few friends in one crucial summer—the summer she turned 30—kept her from letting her own dreams go.
‘Faith is something I’ve been exploring in my roles for a while,” Adams says as she takes a dainty bite of her room-service salad. “How we deal with doubt, how we deal with questions.” With each new character, she asks herself: What is this character’s religious background? “I think it’s a great indicator of behavior—their faith or the lack thereof.”
The struggle to hold on to faith is what gives Adams’s character in Junebug such power. It’s Sister James’s struggle in Doubt and Julie Powell’s in Julie & Julia. And long before Adams wrestled with her own loss of faith as an actor in L.A., her mother and father fought to hold on to theirs, both as Mormons and as parents of a Brady Bunch family that, unlike the one on TV, started coming apart.
It sounds glamorous to say that Adams was born in Vicenza, Italy. In fact, she was an army brat who got moved from base to base—eventually to Virginia, then to Colorado—until she was eight or nine years old. It was a blur: to this day, she’s not sure what her father’s rank was.
Any child forced to cope with new schools and classmates learns to act. But by the time Richard and Kathryn Adams settled in Castle Rock, Colorado, a onetime mining town at the base of the Rockies, they were on their way to spawning a whole theatrical troupe: four boys and three girls, overseen by two parents who loved to perform.
“My dad is a singer. He used to sing in nightclubs, or pizza joints,” Adams explains. “We used to watch him—honestly, we went everywhere my parents went—so there would be seven of us in a bar. I mean, it was a pizza place, but it had a bar. We’d drink Shirley Temples in the ‘bar area’—we couldn’t sit at the bar itself—and watch my dad play guitar and sing. It was actually very helpful for kids to have to adapt to the adult surroundings, rather than making the whole world about the children.”
By day, the children often went from school to the gym where Amy’s mother worked. She, too, performed—as a semi-professional bodybuilder. “She did amateur competitions,” Adams says, “so we would go with her.… She was yoked. She still kind of is. It’s kind of bizarre.” At the gym, Adams and her siblings would hang out in the back room, “ordering Little Caesars and just sitting on the floor.… There was no day care; there were no babysitters. We just kind of went where they needed us to be.”
At home, bedlam reigned. “We were definitely in control of the house,” Amy says of the brood. Being the middle child made no difference, she feels: in a family of that size, there’s the oldest, and the youngest, and then all the rest. She did wish, fervently, to have been an only child. “And if that meant the rest of them had to go, I was O.K. with that,” Amy says with a laugh. “’Yeah, you can take ’em.’ ” They would have done the same to her, she says. “But now it’s just wonderful. There’s always someone to call, someone to talk to.”
There wasn’t a lot of money, so for amusement the Adams children put on talent shows and skits. Usually Amy’s father wrote the skits. One time, Amy recalls, he was gone on a military assignment, so Amy’s mother wrote a skit based on her own version of a Pizza Hut jingle. “At the end of it, I did a front walkover, and splits, and the curtain closed, and my shoe was still out there, and everyone was laughing at me, and my brother, instead of picking me up, held me down so people could keep laughing. That was sort of our family in a nutshell.”
Years later, when Amy received her Oscar nomination for Junebug, her mother was working in a Starbucks. Bursting with pride, she started telling everyone she waited on about her daughter, until the local media picked up on the story. “I was like, ‘Mom, you cannot tell everybody who comes in to get a latte that your daughter is an Oscar nominee!’ ”
The Adams kids were all athletic, not only for the fun and competition of it but also for the hope of college scholarships: when it came to college finances, they knew they were on their own. Amy did track and gymnastics. She was good enough at both that when she announced she was going to train as a dancer instead, the whole family voiced its disapproval: how would she pay for college that way? Amy had a quick answer: she wasn’t going to college. “School was hard for me,” she says with a sigh. “If there had been a school for the creative arts I might have thrived but … I needed that creative outlet so much. Also, I’m just bad with numbers. I’m horrible with them.”
Adams says that Darren Le Gallo, her fellow acting student, “demanded that we go out on a date. He said, ‘I know you’re getting over this [other] guy, but I’m taking you out.’ ” The two got engaged this spring. Photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; styled by Michael Roberts.
By the time Amy graduated from high school, her parents had left the Mormon Church—and each other. She’s still close to her dad, she says, though he lives in Arizona and is remarried. But it was her mother she followed after high school when Kathryn moved to Atlanta. Blithe and bubbly, Adams embraced her first full-time job, as a hostess at the local Hooters. The pay—$7 an hour—was double the minimum wage, a fortune at the time. As a hostess, she could wear a discreet little tennis outfit; when she turned l8, that August, she was told, she could become a waitress and start earning big money. But that involved a different outfit. “I hate to sound so innocent but … where I grew up, what was being sold to us was far less sexualized than what’s being sold to kids now,” says Adams. “So there was definitely an innocence to my interpretation of what Hooters was about. Though I did learn, quickly, that short shorts and beer don’t mix! The nicest guy walking in is not necessarily the nicest guy after two pitchers of beer.” She lasted three weeks as a waitress, then fled, having saved enough money to buy her first car.
Adams had made good on her vow to take dance, but she seemed at a loss as to what to do with the training until a friend from Colorado asked Amy to take her place in a community production of Annie. The job didn’t pay, which was why the friend was leaving—she’d gotten one that did—but it was a chance to dance, sing, and say a few lines. Adams jumped at it. That led to her first dinner-theater gig, also in Colorado—a speaking role in A Chorus Line. The acting and singing were great fun, the waiting on tables less so, the backstabbing not fun at all.
“There’s only so many girls who get out of the chorus, and it’s a lot more competitive than you think in some small markets, because there’s only so many theaters,” Adams explains soberly. “One of these girls told the director just straight-out lies about me, totally smeared me, and we had been really good friends. I never really knew what the lies were. I only knew I kept getting called in and lectured about my lack of professionalism.… It was me against her, and she had woven a really wonderful web.” In the nick of time, Adams got a call from a dinner-theater director in Minnesota who’d seen her perform in Colorado and asked her to fill in for an actress sidelined by an operation.
Adams began to think there’d always be a next call—and for a while, there was. In Minnesota, of all places, she landed her first Hollywood screen role, as a cheerleader in the locally filmed Drop Dead Gorgeous, a dark satire on beauty contests. (Another up-and-comer in the cast was Kirsten Dunst.) Kirstie Alley, as the wicked former beauty queen who pushes her daughter to win at all costs, played a sweeter maternal role off the set, urging Adams to head to Hollywood. And so she did—in a beat-up Toyota Celica driven by one of her brothers. The car died outside of Las Vegas, New Mexico, so the siblings transferred their worldly belongings to a U-Haul and journeyed on. Within a week of arriving in L.A., Adams had yet another call: to play the leading role in a new Fox television series called Manchester Prep.
The show was written as a spin-off of Cruel Intentions, the 1999 film about rich prep-school students baiting one another with ruthless romantic games, supposedly in the manner of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Filming progressed, and Adams exulted: she’d made it already! But then Fox deemed the show too racy and killed it. (Just seven years later, Gossip Girl would make it look tame.) Three episodes were cobbled together as Cruel Intentions 2—a straight-to-video disaster. The film is almost unwatchable, but Adams is amusing as the witchy president of Manchester Prep’s secret society—like Blair in Gossip Girl—seducing the school’s assistant headmaster so she can blackmail him later. “Please be quiet,” she tells him when he gets on his knees and moans her name. “I’m trying to imagine I’m with someone attractive.”
That led to a smattering of minor mean-girl roles—one was in Psycho Beach Party—until Adams was cast as Brenda, a sweet candy striper who falls for the con man played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. One day on set, DiCaprio shot her a look and said he’d caught her on cable the night before. “You were exhibiting some very un-Brenda-like behavior with the teacher,” he told her. Adams winced. “Oh,” she said, “that would be Cruel Intentions 2.”
When Adams had left Minnesota dinner theater for Hollywood, the joke had been Hey, if you ever get to work with Leo, be sure to send a signed picture back. And so she did. “I was mortified, but I felt I kind of had to do it,” Adams recalls. She strikes a pose, mocking herself—“Mr. DiCaprio? May I get a signed picture? Not to me … this is to my friends at dinner theater”—then drops it. “ ‘Mr. DiCaprio!’ I don’t think I ever called him that. I didn’t know what to call him.”
Catch Me If You Can was a hit in 2002, but somehow Adams wasn’t. “That was the part that should have launched her career,” Spielberg later told an interviewer. “But after the movie was released, she was no better off than she was before.”
When that next call failed to come, Adams was stunned. Now she realizes she wasn’t ready. “I was still so caught up in pleasing people—giving them what they want.” That, she thinks, was true of herself as a person—and as an actor. “There was still that energy behind my intention And I think had I been given a ton of opportunities then I would have blown them.”
Sensing her limits even before Catch Me If You Can, Adams had enrolled in acting classes. She got good advice that would take her a while to absorb. She also met the man she would decide to marry.
From acting coach Warner Loughlin, Adams began learning how to express emotions she’d always suppressed. “I had a really hard time opening up, because I always felt so vulnerable,” she says. “My natural response to a stressful situation is to shut down. I do weird things, like I don’t cry, I get really cold.” As an actor, she says, “when I was using me, I couldn’t do it, because I shut down.” Loughlin taught her to create a separate world for her character. “So anytime I’m opening up, it’s my character. I don’t have to be the character myself.”
For roughly a year in her classes, Adams regarded a fellow actor named Darren Le Gallo—tall, dark, and handsome though he was—as a platonic pal. “I had another boyfriend, and Darren was dating some girl I did scenes with him, and I liked him and thought he was really sweet.” A little too sweet, she admits—“like he wouldn’t be assertive enough.” Also, she says, “I was really focused on the classes—he was a little scared of me.” “It’s hard to say what first caught Darren’s eye, but any red-blooded male would be hard pressed not to fall in love with her,” says Loughlin. “She is wildly intelligent, enormously creative, giving, loving, kind, and has energy for days. Darren is a consummate gentleman. There are a rare few of them in L.A. these days.”
Then, one weekend, Adams and Le Gallo acted together in a short film called “Pennies,” co-directed by Loughlin. “I got to know him outside of class,” Adams explains. “And I just found him to be such a genuine, caring person. And assertive! He demanded that we go out on a date. He said, ‘I know you’re getting over this [other] guy, but I’m taking you out on Wednesday.’ I think that was it exactly. And I was like, ‘And so you are!’ That was six years ago.”
The romance bloomed, but the career seemed blocked. Maybe if she just … changed her hair? Resolutely, Adams the blonde became Adams the redhead. “When you’re blonde, people associate it all with being flirty,” she told one interviewer later. “With red hair, suddenly you’re quirky.”
The change seemed to work: Adams landed a role as a series regular on a promising TV show called Dr. Vegas, starring Rob Lowe as a doctor in a casino. At the time, it seemed a far bigger deal than the part she also won in a tiny independent film with the cryptic title of Junebug.
Just before Adams was to go to North Carolina for the movie, she learned that her character had been dumped from Dr. Vegas. She was devastated, not just by the loss but by how vulnerable she now felt. “I was really disappointed in myself, because I had focused so much time into this career, and then I let it dictate my happiness, and dictate my sense of worth, and when this happened, it made me really look at myself and ask, What am I doing?”
Never mind that Dr. Vegas would fizzle after five episodes. When Adams arrived in North Carolina for the start of filming for Junebug, she’d basically decided, with her 30th birthday looming, to play out her role and then look for a new career.
“She was inconsolable about the loss of Dr. Vegas,” recalls her Junebug co-star and now close friend, Embeth Davidtz. “It was commerce: ‘How am I going to pay the rent?’ No one was handing out anything from her family.” Davidtz remembers a brainstorming session. “She was trying to think what to do next. ‘I can dance a little, I’m quite smart … ’ I remember saying, ‘You must stay away from this TV stuff.’ Amy is almost too special for TV. Network TV wants a girl with bosoms and a different look. She said, ‘But I would take anything I can get!’ ”
Not long after they met, Davidtz saw a side of Adams she wouldn’t have imagined. The cast and crew were assigned to small houses in the piney North Carolina woods. To Davidtz’s horror, hers had mice. So she moved into an upstairs bedroom of Adams’s. In the morning she went down to knock on Adams’s door. “I heard this racket from her room, and I came in to see her sleeping with the TV on full blast.” There were clothes strewn all around. “It looked like a suitcase had exploded.” Davidtz told her, “You have to tidy up!” But she also saw the scene for what it was. “I think it’s an emblem of how she grew up in all that chaos, and yet then there’s this tough little very determined person in the middle of all that.”
When they began filming their scenes—Davidtz as the big-city art dealer come down to her husband’s southern hometown to check out an undiscovered painter; Adams as her wide-eyed southern sister-in-law—Davidtz was astounded by the talent before her. “This girl was like a lightning bolt,” she says. “I do feel like I have these witchy instincts on things. I remember feeling that about Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List before anyone knew who he was.” (Davidtz played the Jewish maid.) But, for all her new friend’s encouragement, Adams went home determined to quit.
“I didn’t know what Junebug would be like,” Adams recalls. “They were making it for under $1 million—you just don’t know when you’re involved in smaller projects if they’re going to be seen. So I had to really come to terms with what I wanted in my life and what was going to make me happy. Did that mean staying in L.A. and continuing to pursue a career in film acting? Was it moving to New York and trying to go back to the stage? Or stopping acting altogether? I was at that point in my life where I did not know where I was going to go. I wanted to be a grown-up, but I didn’t know how.”
Not long before Junebug opened—and before the Oscar nomination that would pull her out of the pack—Adams went on a cattle-call audition for a role that involved singing and dancing as well as acting. It seemed no different from all the cattle calls she’d been on before. Three hundred actors auditioned for the role. Adams was just another virtual unknown in the crowd: No. 275.
With sheer talent, she won the role.
The movie was Enchanted.
That Adams and Le Gallo have stayed together since then says a lot about them both. Le Gallo hasn’t had the good fortune in his career that Adams has. Aside from a few small television roles, he’s starred in just two small independent films. One of them was “Pennies”; the other, “The Big Bang Theory,” has Amy’s younger brother, Eddie, in a small role. (Le Gallo is also an artist whose painting style is impressive in a Francis Bacon–ish way.) As Adams’s star soared, Le Gallo might well have felt cast in a real-life version of A Star Is Born—and headed for the exits. He hasn’t.
“He’s not competitive with me,” Adams says adoringly. “He has a wonderful talent, and there aren’t many people in the world who are like that, where he does not think that my success is his failure. He just doesn’t see it like that, and I don’t either.
“If anything,” Adams adds, “he’s probably a little more protective.… He’s very protective of other people’s ownership of me.”
Last year at Christmas, Adams recalls, she and Le Gallo were in New York. Adams was all for going to Times Square. “He said, ‘Amy, we’re not going to Times Square.’ It wasn’t ‘Wow, you’re going to be mobbed’ ”—Adams still often walks unrecognized on the street—“It was more like ‘It’s going to force me to be on the lookout,’ which is very nice.” At last year’s Oscars ceremony, though, Adams’s future fiancé did draw a line. “He said, ‘Amy, you are just not wearing a dress with a train. I’m not going to be the guy standing behind you, telling Mickey Rooney to get off your train.’ ”
When a Hollywood couple decides to marry after six years—an eternity in Hollywood romances—a natural question arises.
“Spit take!” Adams splutters. “No, I’m not pregnant. I can confirm. I’ve been engaged for four months. I think we’d know!”
That dates the question-popping moment back to about April, though Adams waited until late July to announce the news. She’s keeping her lips zipped on all details of that moment, says she has no wedding plans yet, only knows that the wedding will have to be large. “I’m one of seven kids. It’s never going to be a small wedding.”
Now the challenge, she says soberly, is balance. “For so long I was just so focused on either auditioning or working: either working or getting the work.” She’s determined, she says, to live differently now: as one half of a whole, working forward together. And that, she says, means taking a break after Night at the Museum 2 to plan her wedding. Or … does it? The actress who struggled for so long is still so astonished that roles come to her now, one after another; how can she turn them down? “The problem is I find characters I love, and I have to go with them!” Le Gallo, she says, “understands that it’s important to take advantage of those, and he really supports me.”
“I think it’s a story of personal survival together,” suggests Davidtz. “He’s the quietest, most loving chap. He loves her so, he smiles when he sees her. What comes from him is this deep knowledge of who she is and acceptance of that.”
It may not be the stuff of headlines. But after a long, hard slog, Amy Adams is both a star—and happy.
Michael Shnayerson is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.