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Amy Adams: ‘I’m Trying to Be More Present in Each Moment of My Life’
December 19, 2010
Article taken from Parade.
Amy Adams is still thoroughly enchanting. Let’s just state that for the record right here and now. In her black skirt, red chiffon top, and purple pumps with the four-inch heels that levitate her to the 5-foot-8 stature she believes God actually intended for her, she remains the irresistible charmer who played a princess in the 2007 hit Enchanted. Still, several things are remarkably different about Adams today–starting with her latest film, a 180-degree turn from the sweet-tempered roles she’s best known for.
In The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale–the true story of junior welterweight boxer “Irish” Micky Ward, whose memorable bouts in the early 2000s made him the pride of Lowell, Mass.–she plays Ward’s girlfriend, Charlene, a whip-smart, no-nonsense, working-class barmaid who can land a few punches of her own in a street brawl. “You don’t mess with Charlene,” says Adams. “She says what she means, and I love that.”
But the most significant change in the 36-year-old actress’s life happens to be teething in the room next door at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel. In May, Adams gave birth to Aviana, her daughter with fiance and fellow actor Darren Le Gallo. Now she’s looking forward to celebrating her first holiday season as a mom.
“There was always a lot of energy around my house during the holidays growing up–a lot of food, a lot of football. The whole season has a magical feeling for me that I don’t think ever goes away,” says this middle child of seven kids, who grew up mostly in Colorado and whose parents split when she was 11. As she does every December, she’ll call her dad to get the recipe for the family’s traditional Banana Ice (a frozen whipped concoction featuring bananas, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, ice, and Sprite or 7-Up). This year, she’s also looking forward to starting some new traditions: “Just little things, like a certain candy in a certain dish,” she says. “I find that it’s the simple things that remind you of family around the holidays.”
Adams realized she was starting her own family one morning when she tugged at her refrigerator door. “I saw almond milk in the fridge–Darren drinks it, but I’d never tasted it–and it triggered an animal response,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘I need that,’ and I drank the entire carton in 10 minutes. I looked at Darren and said, ‘I think…yeah, I’m pregnant.’”
She describes the months that followed as one of the most liberating periods of her life. “Being pregnant finally helped me understand what my true relationship was with my body–meaning that it wasn’t put on this earth to look good in a swimsuit,” she says (though anyone who saw her 2008 pictorial homage to Rita Hayworth in Vanity Fair might disagree). “I was like, ‘Look, I can carry a baby! I’m gaining weight right, everything’s going well.’ And I’ve had that relationship ever since.” Since the birth, she adds, “I’ve been working out when I can, and I’m trying to eat in a healthful way, but losing weight is not my number-one priority. It’s part of my job to return to some semblance of what I was before. But I don’t feel I’ve ever made my career on my rockin’ bod.”
It’s this kind of forthright, level-headed attitude that has made Adams such a relatable star–and it’s one reason director David O. Russell wanted the two-time Oscar nominee (for Junebug and Doubt) to play Charlene in The Fighter. “She’s the last person you’d think of for this part,” he admits. “But she’s fearless, and it’s great to see her bring her sweetheart qualities to a very strong girl who’s going to say the tough things and help the guy in the tough situations.”
The role required Adams to wear short shorts and a crop top for the bar scenes and lingerie in the bedroom with Wahlberg. “David said, ‘This is kind of how we see her dressing,’” she recalls, “And I said, ‘I’m getting in a gym, ’cause there’s no way I’m going to end up not looking my best.’” But Russell KO’d that impulse, telling her he didn’t want her to look like an actress who’d gotten in shape for a role. “He said, ‘I want you to look like a girl who drinks beer,’” the actress recalls with a laugh.
Adams’ discovery that she was pregnant, just as she finished filming The Fighter, brought back memories of her role as an expectant mother in Junebug–not all of them pleasant. “Because of how that film ended”–with a delivery-room stillbirth–“a lot of women have talked to me about their own similar experiences and how much that character touched them,” she says, clearly moved. But “having played somebody who went through that, I was terrified.” To combat her anxiety, she threw herself into research. “That’s how I prepare for anything–I read whatever I can get my hands on, talk to people. I’m a bit of a nerd like that.” She took birthing classes with Le Gallo, who provided the support she needed for a natural, drug-free delivery. “He was really calm,” she says.
Le Gallo has also turned out to be “a great swaddler” and helpmate in managing the work/parenting balancing act. The couple, who met in acting class, have been together nine years, but the birth of their daughter has deepened their relationship, Adams says. “Now we understand the importance of teamwork. And if we have a disagreement, we work toward a solution.” They have a policy of never spending more than two weeks apart. For example, when Adams went to New Orleans in August to film an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Le Gallo and Aviana joined her for the 11-day shoot. At home in Los Angeles, they share baby night-shift duties and have a dinner date once a week. As for a wedding, she says it’s going to happen but isn’t sure exactly when–she hasn’t been able to wrap her head around the planning process.
Mostly, Adams says, she’s been learning to focus on the moment and not be too hard on herself. “The best advice I’ve gotten as a parent is, ‘You’re not gonna be perfect,’” she says with a chuckle at the understatement. “Take today–she’s teething and I want to be in there with her. But I also want to do a good job here for everybody who worked on the film.”
She pushes back a lock of her naturally strawberry-blond hair. “I actually love my work more now, ’cause I feel if I’m going to be away from her, I’d better enjoy it. I’m trying to be more present in each moment of my life. She’s taught me that.”