This past November, Anne Thompson called on Amy Adams to discuss her brassy turn in David O. Russell’s now Oscar-nominated film, “The Fighter.” Adams herself has earned a Best Supporting Actress nod, her third Oscar nomination, for her role as Charlene Fleming, the real life girlfriend of Mark Whalberg’s boxer, Mickey Ward.
Adams talked about such topics as working with a notoriously demanding director, tackling a role different from what she is typically known for, and meeting the real Charlene. She also touched on altering her appearance for a film and the variety in her upcoming projects.
Click here to watch the full video interview. Below are snippets from the chat.
Could you talk a little bit about how David O. Russell would work with you?
When we started rehearsals, my instinct was to elevate, because we’ve got Christian [Bale} and Melissa Leo and they’re both so animated and so powerful and passionate. I wanted to go toe-to-toe and hold my own and David was like, “No, no, no, that’s not Charlene. Charlene’s tougher than that. She doesn’t have to react. Just let them yell at you. And then you can undercut them. It’s much more powerful.” And it was a revelation. There’s power, if somebody’s sort of losing their mind in front of you, to just say, “That’s very interesting.”
[David O.] Russell has a reputation as being a bit of a tough director. How would you rate him in that way?
You know what it is, is that he gets really excited and he wants to see it now. As an actor, it was important for me to not confuse his energy with him disapproving of what I was doing. It’s not saying that what you’re doing isn’t good, it’s “Okay, that’s great, try this.” So once I saw that where he was coming from was a place of true creativity and just staying fluid, then I really loved working like that.
[Can you talk about] the accent?
I tried to not let the accent be either a hurdle or a crutch. I tried to not let it inform the character. Also, David had me talking at a much lower register. When we started talking about Charlene, he was like, “It’s not that I don’t like your voice. It’s just that you’re kind of musical.” Nobody had ever given me that note before.
It looked like you worked out and you bulked up slightly.
I did bulk up slightly. [David] wanted me to look like a girl who drank beer. When I was playing Charlene, I wasn’t body conscious at all and I didn’t think, “Oh, when I bend over, I have this belly that kind of sneaks out over my jean shorts.”
You had to do a scene in your underwear.
Now that I’ve had my baby, I’ve very proud of that scene because whatever that is, it will never be that again. It will be different and better in some ways. As insecure as I ever was, I have such a different relationship with my body since having a baby.
Let’s talk about the real Charlene. What was she like?
She’s awesome. I was so nervous to meet her. I knew how I was approaching the character and if she was even at all like how I was approaching the character, I was really scared of her. But she ended up being really generous. She kind of likes to stay behind the scenes.
You’ve got a couple of other movies coming up, including “On The Road.”
It was so fun working with such an auteur director [Walter Salles] and working with that entire cast [including Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart], the pulsating youth that they are.
And the other project is the Jason Segel Muppet movie [“The Muppets”].
I’m filming that right now. Those are kind of different [projects]. I play a benny addicted woman in New Orleans and then I play a small town girl coming to L.A. to meet the Muppets.
Is there a particular role that got away?
I won’t talk about it. I believe in karma or kismet. What’s meant to be will be.
Well, things must be looking pretty good right now.
I don’t really have a lot of complaints. I got to do something like Charlene and then “On the Road” and then “The Muppets” and I’m just lucky that people see me in all of those different ways.
Previous 2011 Oscar Nominee Profiles:
“Blue Valentine” Actress Michelle Williams
“Incendies” Director Denis Villeneuve
“The Social Network” Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“True Grit” Actress Hailee Steinfeld
“Waste Land” Director Lucy Walker
“Winter’s Bone” Actress Jennifer Lawrence
“127 Hours” Actor James Franco