Hollywood star Amy Adams is one of a growing number of actresses who’s focusing on family as well as film, but can you really have it all? Jake Taylor finds out
With more than a handful of Oscar nominations, BAFTA nods and two Golden Globes to her name, Amy Adams is in an enviable position: a Hollywood star in her forties who is giving the best performances of her career while managing to maintain the full family experience outside of it. Married to actor Darren Le Gallo, the pair have a six-year-old daughter – Aviana – and Adams has deservedly found herself breaking out of strong supporting roles to achieve leading lady status.
With her breakthrough as naïve Brenda Strong in 2002 DiCaprio deception flick, Catch Me If You Can, putting her on the map, and then the stream of accolades coming for her part in the 2005 dramedy Junebug, at 42, Adams has an impressive portfolio. From comedy in The Muppets to bleak drama in last year’s Nocturnal Animals, via Superman’s Lois Lane and a lively linguist in Arrival – she now has the pick of the pack.
One wonders: has motherhood changed the way the American Hustle star approaches her career? “Sure – it’s made an impact in the kind of projects I choose and wanting to play characters that make me happy,” she says. “I look at things differently now. I pay much more attention to being present and thinking more deeply about matters that affect my daughter. My perspective has changed completely.”
Although Aviana’s arrival has meant that Adams is more dedicated to seeking out fulfilling roles, it has also thrown up a complication which any working mother – whether a Hollywood star or not – can fully sympathise with: achieving that elusive balance between home life and career. For someone as in-demand as Adams is right now, it’s keenly felt.
“You want to be a responsible mother and not have any regrets when you’re looking back on this time in your life,” the actress admits. “It’s something you have to think about as you go along and depending on the projects that come along. You’re chronically aware in this business that you might not have these same kinds of opportunities down the road and I want to take advantage of this time in my career when things are going very well for me.
“At the same time, I’m having such a beautiful time with my husband and our daughter that any project I choose has to be one that I truly feel compelled to do. It’s not easy and it’s a question many working mothers face.” Her smile turns down a little. “Sometimes when I tell my daughter I have to leave for work and she can’t come with me, it’s hard for me to see her sad or upset.”
And despite Adams’ uncertainty over how she is “going to manage things” at home and in Hollywood (“I want to be very present in the life of my daughter during this time as she starts to go through school”), the star is finding her time with Aviana to be a form of therapy and hopes other mothers can learn to accept their mistakes: the pursuit of perfection is folly in parenthood as much as anywhere else, she says.
“Being a mother has given me a chance to ease up on myself and free myself from my perfectionist kind of thinking!” she laughs. “You can never be a perfect parent – it’s always going to be a process where you discover how you can be more patient or more attentive. You can’t think in those terms, so I’ve become a lot more forgiving of myself.”
It’s easy to see why Adams has elegantly assumed the role of motherhood given her own upbringing. She is one of seven children raised with a strong religious backbone in a family that moved around army bases until she was eight. It seems to have given her a seemingly unshakeable sunny disposition that is the key to her enduring appeal on and off our screens.
But beneath that charm there lies a strength of character and desire to see a real change in the way women are treated on screen – especially those who’ve passed the age of 40. Indeed, there’s a whisper that the world of Hollywood is changing and the six-time Academy Award nominee stands proudly at the forefront of this change.
“There’s a long, long way to go – we’re not there yet, not even close,” she admits. “But I’ve noticed small movements along the way and I think we’re on the right road.
“Ageing is nothing but a positive thing for me as an actress because of the roles becoming available to me – they seem to be evolving as I evolve. I’m contented and comfortable with who I am; I’m not trying to meet expectations. And that permits a liberty in my work – a freedom I hadn’t ever explored before.”