THE EYES HAVE IT

AMY ADAMS HAS THE PER­FECT PEEPERS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - CARLY SWAN­SON

Amy Adams – the star­let with the emo­tive eyes and down-home charm – seems to ex­ist on a dif­fer­ent planet to that of her Hol­ly­wood peers. Which isn’t ex­actly a bad thing.

She’s al­most sus­pi­ciously un-nar­cis­sis­tic for a Hol­ly­wood star; gra­cious, hard­work­ing and de­cent. She’s not even on so­cial me­dia. The for­mer high­school gym­nast is up­beat and as present as any self-help book would pre­scribe (and she reads a lot of them).

Adams is far more del­i­cately beau­ti­ful in per­son than she of­ten reg­is­ters in films, whether it’s the heed­lessly op­ti­mistic, preg­nant, back­woods chat­ter­box in Junebug, the brutish Lady Mac­beth of The Master, or the pouty Julie of Julie & Ju­lia.

But, out­side her turn as that con artist in Amer­i­can Hus­tle, she rarely is asked to play ag­gres­sively sexed-up. She was once ac­cused by a writer in Esquire, who was un­able to dis­cern what she ac­tu­ally looks like through the char­ac­ters she plays so deftly, of be­ing “per­fectly plain”. Which is a com­pli­ment of sorts.

Adams has two films out this week, both of which could add to her cur­rent tally of five Academy-Award nom­i­na­tions.

There’s the “these aliens have landed and are they friendly?” mind-ben­der Ar­rival, di­rected by Si­cario’s De­nis Vil­leneuve. In it, she plays a lin­guist tasked with fig­ur­ing out how to read or write space-per­son in a hurry.

Her co-star is Jeremy Ren­ner, who plays a physi­cist on the earth­ling wel­com­ing com­mit­tee. The film is notable in part for its Carl Sa­gan–ish tone of won­der.

Then there is Nocturnal An­i­mals, di­rected and writ­ten by Tom Ford, in which Adams plays a woman who gets an un­set­tling man­u­script in the mail writ­ten by her long-gone ex-hus­band.

Adams is well-known for her big eyes – she even starred as artist Mar­garet Keane in Tim Bur­ton’s Big Eyes – which are soul­ful and vul­ner­a­ble.

Those emo­tive eyes helped her score her role in Ar­rival, based on Story of Your Life, by Ted Chi­ang.

Given that the film sees its char­ac­ters swing be­tween in­ter-species in­ter­ac­tions (re­quir­ing big sets and CGI) and a qui­eter, per­sonal story, it was, by all ac­counts, a dif­fi­cult film to make co­her­ent.

“One of the big chal­lenges was to link both of the ex­trem­i­ties and keep ten­sion alive,” says Vil­leneuve.

In or­der to do that, he says he “needed an ac­tor with a real wide range and a lot of in­tel­li­gence to her eyes”.

Tom Ford cast Adams for her eyes, too.

“Since she’s mostly read­ing,” he says of Adams’s char­ac­ter, “we have to know what she is think­ing and feel­ing through her face. Her eyes – there’s an in­stant con­nec­tion when she looks at you. It’s like you’re look­ing in­side her soul. It’s al­most un­set­tling.”

But he didn’t just like her eyes.

“I think Amer­i­can Hus­tle was the first time a lot of us re­alised how beau­ti­ful she was,” Ford says. “God, how beau­ti­ful her breasts are. It was a sur­prise. It was like: ‘Wow’.” He pauses, con­sid­er­ing how that quote might read of Adams’s role as the al­lur­ing, cleav­age-bar­ing grifter.

“As a gay fash­ion de­signer and not a lech­er­ous straight man, I can say that.”

That sort of re­sponse makes Adams laugh, even though the role both­ered her so much that she cut her hair short after the shoot to ex­or­cise it.

“I got such great re­ac­tions to the way my char­ac­ter looked in Amer­i­can Hus­tle,” she says, shak­ing her head. “This girl is twisted. She lies to ev­ery­body and peo­ple love her. Peo­ple had so many less ques­tions about char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment – play­ing some­one who was liv­ing a lie within a lie – and so many more about my cleav­age.”

Early on, Adams ques­tioned the type of roles she au­di­tioned for – there were ones fo­cused on her looks, and the other ones. It led to a cross­roads.

“I used to yell at my man­ager be­cause I would get brought in to play the model ver­sion of me, and the model ver­sion of me would al­ways get the part,” she says. “And my man­ager said to me, ‘You can ei­ther chase that (pretty-girl roles) or you can chase some­thing else. What path you do want for your­self?’.

“You re­alise that me go­ing to an au­di­tion where I am stand­ing next to (ac­tor) Jaime Pressly in a bikini is not go­ing to work. I had to re­alise pretty early on what I wasn’t. But I did chase that other thing.”

Ar­rival and Nocturnal An­i­mals open Wed­nes­day

Amy Adams in a scene from the new film Ar­rival. The ac­tor was born in Italy and grew up in a poor Mor­mon fam­ily.

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