Much like her wayward Disney princess in Enchanted, it’s pretty damn impossible not to like Amy Adams immediately upon meeting her. But in David O. Russell’s heavy-hitting drama The Fighter, Adams has to play hard and more than a little rough as Charlene, boxer Mickey Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) girlfriend and scorn of his pugilistic clan — including his volatile older brother, Dicky Edlund (Christian Bale).
“I have so much affection for David [O. Russell],” Adams says of her sometimes-notorious director, who sought her for the role. “I’m so appreciative that he met me and he was able to see Charlene. So many times in the past a director’s been like, “Can you play tough?”, and I can’t really answer that, because if I answer politely then they’re gonna think I’m not tough, and if I answer like, “Hell yeah I can play tough!”, it doesn’t really work. David got it.”
Playing tough meant Adams was well-matched against her co-stars, who’re being touted as Oscar contenders this awards season. “What’s great about this is that, in playing Charlene, I was as tough as they were; so I was able to come to set and really feel like I was toe-to-toe, just because she’s so ballsy. I’m definitely the scrappiest,” she laughs.
More intimidating? Picking your all-time five favorite films. “It’s so hard to break it down to five,” Adams says. “For different reasons, I love all of the movies I’m about to mention.”
Gone With the Wind, and The Wizard of Oz, were two movies that I grew up with and had a lasting effect on me. Scarlett O’Hara was a huge influence, unfortunately [laughs], and I had to break myself out of the habit of the sort of “fiddle-dee-dee” kind of thing. As I’ve gotten older and watched the movie, I love the cinematography; it was just such a groundbreaking movie. It’s interesting now to see, in looking back, how we approached race in Hollywood, and how it’s changed so much. It was just epic and romantic and sweeping at that time in my life — usually I pick the movies because of the time I watched them in my life and what they meant to me then. I saw Gone With the Wind when I was about 13, which is a dangerous time to show it to a young lady. [laughs] I was obsessed with it. It was so romantic: the gowns, the drama, the war? and I loved American history, as well; it was my favorite subject. I was a freak on Gone With the Wind.
I love Alfred Hitchcock, but that was the first one that I saw. I saw it in humanities class in high school. We broke it down and had to write all these articles about it, and it stayed with me for a lot of reasons? in exploring all of the imagery that Alfred Hitchcock uses, and just the tone of the film. I always was a Jimmy Stewart fan — my fiancé is kind of very Jimmy Stewart. [laughs] He’s like the every man. I really loved him. And then of course the Hitchcock blonde; a lot of it had to do with the females in the films, so it’s no surprise that I became an actress. I was obsessed with Kim Novak; I would pull my hair back and try to tweeze my eyebrows so I could be a Hitchcock blonde. I loved it. And that was the first time I’d ever explored film intellectually, in that class, because before then I was, you know, I just went to the movies — things would move me and I wasn’t sure why. To get to sit down with my teacher and break a film down intellectually was a discovery for me. It’s still one of my favorites. It speaks to me very strongly.
Shawshank is one of those films that, every time it comes on television, I watch it — even though I own the DVD, the VHS, the Blu-ray. Every time it’s on. I can?t explain why. It’s a good script, it’s a good story; it’s a story about the human spirit and redemption… it’s beautiful. That scene when the opera plays, and everybody stops for that moment and you just hear Morgan Freeman’s voice come in, that kills me. It’s really great.
If I put Casablanca on I’ll sound like AFI, right? [laughs] Here’s the thing: there are all the choices you can make that you know sound really good and then there’re the ones that you really watch, like a hundred times. Like Paulie, the film with the parrot — but if I put that on my list I’m gonna look like an idiot. [laughs] You must see Paulie! I know you think I’m crazy. I love Paulie. I have these films that my younger brother’s like, “Amy, you’re gonna love this — you have to watch this film.” He introduced me to Paulie. There’s a whole bunch of people in Paulie: there’s Gena Rowlands, Jay Mohr, Cheech; the guy from Monk, Tony Shalhoub, who’s one of my favorites. It’s such a touching story. I hope I haven’t built it up too much. [laughs]
The Fighter is in theaters this week.