Adams on Reel Women: A tale of five actresses — Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, and Nicole Kidman
Photo: Weinstein/Fox Searchlight/Universal/Dreamworks
Amy Adams: From fetching Disney princess to confident adult
Adams, 38, came naturally to America's sweetheart roles, like her people-pleasing fairy-tale Princess Giselle in "Enchanted," and her darling and dashing Amelia Earhart in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." But there are a lot of shades of gray to this woman, something she proved last year as the tough Boston cookie Charlene Fleming, capable of a hair-pulling fight in "The Fighter," also Globe- and Oscar-nominated. Adams returns this year for a key performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" as Peggy Dodd, the pregnant power behind the throne to Philip Seymour Hoffman's cult leader. While the movie itself has slid from its early high as a double award winner at the Venice Film Festival, the performances have considerable awards traction. At the Toronto International Film Festival, the three-time Oscar nominee told me: "It's funny that you mentioned Amelia Earhart earlier, because that was the first time that I can remember playing a character that was confident. Afterwards, I said to my agent, I loved playing a confident character -- let's look for more."
Anne Hathaway: From the diary of a princess to a tragic singing harlot
Hathaway, 30, grew up onscreen, charming countless generations of little girls who wanted to be princesses as reluctant Manhattan teen Mia Thermopolis, who discovers she's royalty in "The Princess Diaries." Hathaway followed with the title character in "Ella Enchanted" and the sequel "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." She moved forward as the heroine of "The Devil Wears Prada," playing another good girl caught in forces beyond her control. Ever since, she's been trying to prove that she's not just the soapy, sudsy, squeaky American beauty next door. "Rachel Getting Married" is my personal favorite among the movies through which she tried to scrap that old image. In this one, she played a young woman who gets out of rehab for her sister's nuptials and struggles to stay sober at the champagne-fueled event while remaining truthful to herself. It's a great little-sister part, exquisitely written by Sidney Lumet's talented daughter Jenny. Hathaway bared even more flesh with Jake Gyllenhaal in "Love and Other Drugs," and then did the body-builder thing to embody the prickly feline femme fatale Selina (aka Catwoman) in "The Dark Knight Rises." But the transformation is complete with Hathaway's singing sister of the street, Fantine. The role has earned Hathaway a Golden Globe nod, and made her an Oscar front-runner. "I took a realistic approach," Hathaway told me recently. "I didn't want the tears to be broad. I went very deep into my research about sexual slavery and the psychological toll it takes on those women." Hathaway used her recent supporting parts to transition to the darker, more demanding roles she craves.