Enchanted : Amy Adams Interview

Amy Adams stars in the new Disney film ENCHANTED, as a beautiful maiden, about to marry the prince of her dreams – when she is suddenly banished from her idyllic magic kingdom, to the harsh reality of New York. There she encounters a very different, more realistic kind of romance, with a cynical lawyer, (Patrick Dempsey) who is also a single parent and does not believe in happy ever after endings. In this delightful fantasy, that combines animation with a strong live action romantic comedy, - two distinct worlds collide, with dramatic - and entertaining consequences.

Amy Adams radiates warmth in her starring role as Giselle, a fairy tale maiden from the land of Andalasia, who is in love with her Prince Charming actually Prince Edward (James Marsden). A Happy Ever After ending seems guaranteed for the princess in waiting, who is beautiful, kind-hearted and possesses a natural ability to communicate with animals. She has found the man of her dreams and all is well, until the prince’s truly evil stepmother (Susan Sarandon) weaves her magic and banishes her to modern day New York. The cold-hearted Queen is worried about losing her power and is determined to get rid of the beautiful girl.

The beginning of ENCHANTED is animated – in classic hand drawn Disney style. But once the animated Giselle arrives in Manhattan, she comes to life and Amy Adams takes over as the film switches to live action. She arrives in bustling New York only to find that the rather grim (if thrilling) reality of Manhattan has nothing in common with her own fairy tale land of Andalasia, where Prince Edward (James Marsden) is pining for her. As the story develops, we see Giselle’s gradual transformation from idealized innocence to a complex, very real woman. Yet she maintains her optimism and freshness.

Enchanted (2007)“Giselle comes to New York full of innocence,” says the film’s director Kevin Lima. “She embraces the joy of life and ends up enchanting everyone, her kindness and innocence rubs off on everyone she meets.”

She meets Robert, a handsome divorce lawyer, played by Patrick Dempsey, who reluctantly takes her home that he shares with his little daughter. Robert already has a girlfriend (Idina Menzel) but finds himself increasingly attracted to the strange but lovely fairy tale princess, who has stormed into his life. Meanwhile the plot thickens as Prince Edward (James Marsden) follows his true love to Manhattan to find her and take her home. The wicked queen Narissa follows too, transforming herself into a hag, in order to trick Giselle.

The culture clash between the fantasy land of Andalasia (where everyone is animated) and the real world of New York (populated by live actors) is vividly contrasted in the change from animation to live action. ENCHANTED’s fabulous musical numbers were written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. The score was by Alan Menken.

“As soon as Amy came into the room and read for us, we knew she was Giselle,” says executive producer, Chris Chase. “Amy crafted her performance so well, she starts out as a princess and becomes more and more grounded as the movie progresses. She is amazing to watch and I think she is going to be a big star. Her singing really surprised us too, we were blown away when we heard her sing solo, she was fantastic.”

Rising star, Amy Adams was born in Italy and grew up in Colorado family as one of seven children and studied ballet throughout her childhood. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 2005 film, JUNEBUG. She has also appeared in DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, THE WEDDING DATE, THE EX and CATCH ME YOU CAN. Her next films are CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR and MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY.

The following interview took place in Los Angeles, where the redheaded actress was looking pretty and very glamorous, in a tight fitting, emerald green Ralph Lauren dress and wearing spiky stilettos.

Q: What was it like portraying a classic fairy tale princess?
“I loved Disney princesses growing up, my own favorite was Cinderella. It was fun playing Giselle. I had a lot of permission to be free and get in touch my inner child and play. What I like about Giselle is that there is such a sense of possibility with her character. She was not born a princess and we identify with her as a young girl I think, when we see her in animated form with the forest animals, because she proves that you can come from anywhere and become special.”

Q: How did you envisage the character?
“I think all acting requires imagination. There was a different challenge with ENCHANTED, not because I was playing a princess, but because we were doing musical numbers -- she bursts into song like every true Disney princess. Also, this role was challenging because there was a lot of action and romance and we were often acting with elements that were not present (like the computer generated chipmunk, Pip) so it was essential to imagine what was happening around me. That can be very challenging, but it is fun to do that, to use your imagination to that extent.”

Q: What kind of woman is Giselle, can you talk about her personality?
“I think she is never too sugary or too saccharine because she is open, so although she is innocent, she is never just satisfied sitting in that innocence. She is willing to learn and grow and to stand up for what she believes in. She is still feisty, although she is kind. Her innocence comes from the fact that she has not been exposed too much in her life, but as she learns about herself, her world changes. But it was important to me that she did not lose her light as she evolved, because that is what makes her lovely as a character. I wanted her to be a strong character with her own light shining from inside. I definitely had inspiration from the films that I loved as a child; I was addicted to all of those Disney classics like CINDERELLA and SNOW WHITE. A lot of my inspiration came from Kevin Lima’s storyboards for the film, they were done frame by frame and I loved his vision. “

Q: What is Giselle’s journey all about?
“She discovers what love really is and what being human is all about, she really evolves and learns what it feels like to have genuine emotions. She finds out that life is more complicated than it has appeared so far in her life and that it is not all about happy endings, but can be very exciting.”

Q: What is it like playing a Disney princess who is going to be immortalized like all those others: CINDERELLA and SLEEPING BEAUTY?
“I am not as immortal as they are obviously. But I think the animated Giselle will certainly be a lasting Disney character.”

Q: What is the overall appeal of the film?
“I think it will appeal to everyone, it is such fun. My hope for this film is that boys enjoy it as much as girls, for years to come. I think that boys have been enjoying it already and are interested in the story. I hope that children will grow up with this film as a classic, a standard and a marker of their youth, so to speak, in the same way that certain Disney films really affected my imagination and my sense of possibility, like MARY POPPINS. That resonated so much with me. I loved films like PETE’S DRAGON. I loved the idea that you could have an imaginary dragon cartoon friend, that no one else could see, that sparks your imagination. I think that is so important in this world, because imagination leads to innovation. For me it led to acting, but it could be geared towards science or politics. I think you have to be creative in life whatever you do, in order to get ahead.”

Q: When did you stop believing in fairy tales and magic and princesses?
“Well I am still here believing right now. I do believe in the idea of princesses, I think all girls and women like to feel like princesses – even for a day. I think that is why the wedding industry does so well. You want that fairy tale moment in your life and I think most – I can’t speak for all – women, do enjoy that, they love having moments of romance. As far as believing in princes, as you grow up, your idea of perfection changes. I personally have been very fortunate to find somebody who matched my grown up idea of a prince and he is wonderful.”

Q: Did you see yourself as Giselle right away?
“As soon as I read the script, I loved it. I remember going over it with my boyfriend and playing with different ideas about what kind of person she was and he suddenly said to me: ‘you are going to get this part, it is perfect for you’. And I said: ‘no I’m not going to get it, they are going to cast someone who is much more famous’, so it was fantastic to find out I had got the role. I was so excited.”

Q: The singing must have been a challenging, there are a lot of musical numbers in the film, and so you are acting and singing at the same time?

“That was not daunting for me because I have always been a huge fan of movie musicals. Julie Andrews was my princess, I thought of her as Disney royalty when I was a kid. I love singing, but I was always more of a chorus singer, I was not a soloist by any means, I was a dancer by trade. I worked in musical theater before I moved to Los Angeles, so I was very comfortable with the idea of singing, but Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz just raised the level so much in my mind, that I immediately got into the musical aspect of the film. I really wanted to make them proud and I wanted to use my own voice if I could. And I was thrilled that they were happy with my voice.”

Q: Do you sing a lot at home?
“I sing all the time, I literally burst into song all the time throughout the day. I love karaoke actually. I have to admit, my most recent favorite, which I think is funny, is Thank You For The Music, by Abba. I don’t think one should ever take oneself too seriously when doing karaoke so my songs tend to have a very self effacing air to them.”

Q: How did you tackle playing a fairy tale princess – rather than a fully-fledged human woman?
“As I was acting, I just treated the role, like playing any other character. She does become a real woman in the real world. I think now I have to live up to that princess image though, because young girls will see me as a special princess and I will be some kind of role model to them. I see Giselle as someone with a kind spirit and a warm heart. I don’t think I’ll be perfect, nobody is perfect, but I will always be honest and take that responsibility seriously.”

Q: Did you grow up with strong moral values?
“My parents instilled a lot of traditional values and I think those values are in my fiber now and part of who I am. One of the things I grew up with was the concept: ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’. That is very important to me. If I am ever mean to someone, I feel really bad about it and I do my best to be kind.”

Q: Were there funny moments during filming, when you were dressed in these outrageous costumes?
“You have to have a fairly twisted sense of humor to spend several months on a film like this. Nothing is funnier than standing around in a big, fluffy, white princess dress being normal – that is ironic enough and we would have a lot of laughs when we were filming.”

Q: What was it like working with Patrick – there is a great chemistry on screen?
“Well if you can’t have chemistry with McDreamy, someone as gorgeous as Patrick Dempsey – then I don’t know who you can have chemistry with. Working with him was wonderful, we really got along so well and he was such a good friend to me during the shoot, he was generous and energetic.”

Q: How challenging was the very dramatic and romantic ballroom scene, in which you are dancing together?
“We took dance classes together before we started shooting, because there is a big ballroom scene and that was very unusual. Usually you can keep a distance from the people you are working with, but learning to dance with Patrick, I had to break down some of my own barriers to learn how to ‘partner dance’. I was already a dancer, so I thought I knew what I was doing, and I was not willing to let him lead me. I was stubborn, I said ‘no you just do what you need to do’ but it did not work out as I had imagined and I lost a couple of toe nails. They were ripped off. Then a ballroom professional came in and watched us dance and he took me aside and said, ‘Amy here’s the problem: you’re not letting him lead you’. I said ‘yeah I am’ and he said ‘no you are not because you don’t want to surrender, just remember that you are dancing your own dance even though you are being led’ and that was an important life lesson for me. I think that is true with relationships in general. But working with Patrick it was really important – to get to the point at which I trusted him. I had to learn to trust him fully to lead me backwards through a crowd of people and I think really helped us form communication and trust on set, because we were forced to tell each other what we really needed.”

Q: What was it like wearing the huge, heavy fairy-tale bridal gown?
“Well I was told it weighed 45 pounds, I didn’t want to know. It was really hard because it had a mind of its own. I couldn’t move directly forwards or backwards because if I did, the dress would collapse underneath me – either way I went down and I learned the hard way the first night, but it was great, because it helped to inform how I (Giselle) moved in the real world and it actually ended up adding to the character, sometimes things that seem to be challenges end up being gifts.”

Q: What was your own fairy tale moment?
“Going to the Oscars was definitely one (when I was nominated for JUNEBUG), walking down that red carpet and realizing that the moment was actually happening and I did not lose my shoe.”

Q: Have you ever felt like Giselle, when she is so lost in New York, a new world, can you identify with her?
“When I first came to Los Angeles, I came from Minnesota where I had been working, I didn’t come from a really small town, but I was very wide eyed, I really did have some Giselle moments. Being in LA made me grow up, I became much more careful about the kind of people I invited into my life. It was definitely hard and sometimes scary. I was scared of myself and scared of success.”

Q: It looks like your career is very exciting at the moment with several new films?
“I am having such a great time. It was fantastic fun making CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR, we shot that last year after ENCHANTED. I play a congressional administrative aid to Tom Hanks’ character, who is a congressman, working to appropriate funds for the Afghan army, assisting rebels in their war with the Soviets, back in the 80s. Mike Nichols was the director and it was just unbelievable. Then I made MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY and that was shot in London, it’s a comedy with Frances McDormand, who has become my personal fairy godmother, she has been wonderful to me, so has Susan Sarandon on ENCHANTED, I’ve been lucky to work with fantastic role models.”