Oscar Actors: Adams, Amy–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage; Emmy Nom)

Research in Progress (April 23, 2021)

Amy Adams Career Summary

Occup. Inheritance: Yes; father in showbiz after military service;

Social Class: middle

Family: parents divorce


Training: trained as ballerina; Dinner theater

Theater Debut:

Film Debut: 1999; Catch Me If You Can, 2002; aged 28; it did not help

Breakthrough Role: Junebug, 2005; age 31

TV Debut:

Oscar Nominations: 6

Other Awards: Emmy nom, “Sharp Objects,” 2018; age 44

Marriage: Actor-artist



Amy Lou Adams (born August 20, 1974), known for both her comedic and dramatic performances, has placed three times in annual rankings of the highest-paid actresses in the world.

Her accolades include 2 Golden Globes, nominations for 6 Oscar Awards and 7 British Academy Film Awards.

Born in Vicenza, Italy, and raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Adams is the fourth of seven siblings. She trained to be a ballerina, but at age 18, she found musical theater a better fit, and from 1994 to 1998, she worked in dinner theater.

She made her feature debut with a supporting part in the 1999 satire Drop Dead Gorgeous.

After moving to Los Angeles, she made guest appearances in TV and took on “mean girl” parts in small-scale features.

Her first major role came in Spielberg’s 2002 biopic Catch Me If You Can, opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, but she was unemployed for a year afterward.

Her breakthrough came in the part of a loquacious pregnant woman in the 2005 indie film Junebug.

The 2007 musical Enchanted, in which Adams played a cheerful princess, was her first major success as a leading lady.

She followed it by playing naïve, optimistic women in a series of films such as the 2008 drama Doubt.

She subsequently played stronger parts to positive reviews in the sports film The Fighter (2010) and the psychological drama The Master (2012).

Golden Globes

In 2013, she began portraying Lois Lane in superhero films set in the DC Extended Universe. She won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress for playing a seductive con artist in American Hustle (2013) and the painter Margaret Keane in the biopic Big Eyes (2014).

Further acclaim came for playing linguist in the science fiction film Arrival (2016), a self-harming reporter in the miniseries Sharp Objects (2018), and Lynne Cheney in the satirical film Vice (2018).

Adams’s stage roles include the Public Theater’s revival of Into the Woods in 2012, in which she played the Baker’s Wife.

In 2014, she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time and featured in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

She is married to actor and artist Darren Le Gallo, with whom she has a daughter.

Amy Lou Adams was born on August 20, 1974, to American parents Richard and Kathryn Adams, when her father was stationed with the US 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 8.

After leaving the army, her father sang professionally in nightclubs and restaurants. Adams described going to her father’s shows and drinking Shirley Temples at the bar as among her fondest childhood memories. The family was poor; they camped and hiked together, and performed amateur skits written by her father.

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. After the breakup, her father moved to Arizona and remarried, while the children remained with their mother.[2][6] 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, showing interest 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. At 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. To support herself, she worked as a greeter at a Gap store, then as a waitress at Hooters, but left the jobs after she saved enough money to buy a used car.

Adams began her professional career as a dancer in a 1994 dinner theater production of A Chorus Line in Boulder, Colorado The job required her to wait on tables before getting up on stage to perform. She enjoyed singing and dancing, but disliked waitressing.

Spotting by Director of Chanhassen Dinner Theater

During a performance of “Anything Goes” at the Country Dinner Playhouse in 1995, she was spotted by Michael Brindisi, the president and artistic director of the Minneapolis-based Chanhassen Dinner Theater, who offered her a job.  She performed in the theater for the next three years.

During that time, Adams acted in her first film, a black-and-white short satire named The Chromium Hook. Soon after, while she was off work nursing a pulled muscle, she attended auditions for the film Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999), a satire on beauty pageants starring Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, and Kirstie Alley. Adams was cast in the supporting part of promiscuous cheerleader.

Encouragement from Alley prompted Adams to pursue a film career, and she moved to Los Angeles in January 1999. Adams auditioned for whatever parts came her way, but she was mostly given roles of “the bitchy girl.” Her first assignment was in Fox’s TV series Manchester Prep, a spin-off of the film Cruel Intentions, in the lead role of Kathryn Merteuil (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the film). After script revisions and shutdowns, the series was canceled.

Adams next had a supporting role as the teenage nemesis of a movie star (played by Kimberly Davies) in Psycho Beach Party (2000), a horror parody of beach party and slasher films. She played the part as a homage to the actress Ann-Margret.

From 2000 to 2002, Adams appeared in guest roles in several television series, including That ’70s Show, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, and The West Wing. Following brief roles in three small-scale features of 2002—The Slaughter Rule, Pumpkin, and Serving Sara—Adams found her first high-profile part in Spielberg’s comedy-drama Catch Me If You Can. She was cast as Brenda Strong, a nurse with whom Frank Abagnale, Jr. (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) falls in love. Despite the film’s success, it failed to launch her career. She was unemployed for a year, leading her to almost quit film acting.

Adams instead enrolled in acting classes, realizing that she had “a lot to learn and a lot of self-growth to work through.”

Her career prospects improved a year later when she received a lucrative offer to star as a regular in the CBS television drama Dr. Vegas, but she was dropped after a few episodes.


She only had a minor role in the Fred Savage-starrer The Last Run (2004). Disillusioned by her firing from Dr. Vegas, Adams, aged 30, considered quitting acting altogether after completing work on the low-budget indie comedy-drama Junebug.

First Oscar Nomination

Directed by Phil Morrison, the film featured Adams as Ashley Johnsten, a perky and talkative pregnant woman. Morrison was impressed by Adams’s ability to not question her character’s inherently good motives.

She found connection with Johnsten’s faith in God, and spent time with Morrison in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, attending church. She described making the film as “the summer I grew into myself”, and after dyeing her hair red for the part, she decided to not go back to her natural blonde color. Junebug premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Fest, where Adams won a special jury prize.

Adams received her first Best Supporting Actress nomination, and won an Independent Spirit Award.

Screen Image: ingénue—innocent women with cheerful personality

As with Junebug and Enchanted, Adams’s roles in her three 2008 releases were those of the ingénue—innocent women with cheerful personality.

Asked about her being typecast, Adams said that she responds to characters who are joyful and identified with their sense of hope. She believed that despite certain similarities in their disposition, these characters were vastly different from one another. She elaborated: “Naïveté is not stupidity, and innocent people are often very complex.”