VetFamily: Amy Adams on the A-List

Amy Adams

Dedication and hard work often pay off in professional success. Actress Amy Adams, who continues to show A-list stuff with a big summer hit movie spreading across America, understands that truism more than most. She credits her upbringing, and her Army vet dad for getting her where she is today.

“I think the type of family I was raised in had more of an effect on my career choice. We were always encouraged to find something that we wished to do and then try and excel at it,” she told Movie Maker magazine in an interview this past January. “I’m definitely attracted to people who try to make the best of it. That’s what I’m attracted to in life, as well. I tend not to like people who wallow.”

Yet life hasn’t always been easy for Adams. The middle child of seven, Amy was born in Vicenza, Italy, where her army father Richard was stationed. The family returned to the States when she was a toddler, eventually settling in Colorado, and struggled to make ends meet.

A dedication to excellence, no matter what it was, kept the family thriving outside of the checkbook. No doubt being a military brat exposed Adams to the disciplined lifestyle of the Army. That coupled that with her mom, Kathryn, who worked in a gym and did amateur bodybuilding.

“My parents found a lot of outlets for us – we were always involved in a community activity such as sports and Scouts, so we were busy. That’s the only thing to do with so many children,” she told the London Daily Mail.

Adams began her performing career on stage in dinner theaters before making her screen debut in the 1999 film Drop Dead Gorgeous. By 2002, she landed the role of Brenda Strong in 2002’s Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Hanks, but her breakthrough role was in the 2005 independent film Junebug, for which she received critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Adams continued to soar, starring in Disney’s 2007 film Enchanted, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance as Giselle. And just one year later, she received her second Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her role as a young nun in Doubt. And already this year, she has acted in the 2009 film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in the role of Amelia Earhart.

Through her burgeoning career, she’s been able to establish a reputation for focus and dedication to her roles. She’s pointed to her Mormon upbringing as helping shape her work ethic, and more recently, her first Oscar nomination which released her to “focus on the journey.” “I like to be uber-focused,” she said.

“Amy is not the kind of actor that comes to the set and asks, ‘What should I do?’ She comes to set and ... she is that thing,” said Barry Josephson, her producer in Enchanted. “She owned the character ... so much so that she showed us some things about (her) that were not on the page.”

Her recently released film role, "Julie & Julia", continues to garner critical acclaim for another leading role. Borrowing from her character’s 2005 memoir by the same name, Amy Adams costars as Julie Powell, a frustrated New York professional who, on the eve of her 30th birthday, undertakes an absurdly ambitious culinary project. As she cooks, she imagines Child’s rise to gastronomic greatness in post-WWII France. "It’s almost two movies that have blended together in a dialogue," says Meryl Streep, who plays Child and appeared with Adams in last year’s "Doubt."

Adams is able to tap into her own creative source in the film because it reminds her of her earlier memories of turning 30 as well. And what’s interesting -- her breakthrough and subsequent hit movies came after she turned 30.

“It’s an interesting experience. You really start to take inventory of what you’ve done, or what you’re going to do,” she says about her experience turning 30. “You can’t really pretend to be a kid anymore. You don’t really have the same excuses. You have to be accountable now. So whatever damage your parents did, or whatever damage you did, it’s now time to own it all and get on with it, so to speak.” And with her career hitting full stride, it seems Adams has taken her brat upbringing and made it the foundation for something extremely positive.

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