Amy Adams in Telluride: ‘I’m a really harsh critic of myself’

At the Telluride film festival with sci-fi drama Arrival, the five-time Oscar nominee cheerled for supporting roles and said working with Spike Jonze had freed her of some perfectionist tendencies

Amy Adams leads Denis Villeneuves brainy sci-fi drama Arrival, which had its North American premiere at the Telluride film festival on Saturday, but she often prefers being a supporting player.

During a tribute to the actor that preceded the well-received screening, Adams took part in a discussion which focused on her ability to invest the smallest roles with considerable interior life. Adams has been nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar four times (for Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter and The Master) most recently she also netted her first leading Oscar nod for American Hustle.

In my experience, the lead role has the burden of plot, said Adams. A lot of the times, as a supporting character, you get to play an amazing character. Im not looking at the size of a role, Im looking at the chance to grow.

Referencing Paul Thomas Andersons 2012 drama The Master, in which she plays a Lady Macbeth-like wife to Philip Seymour Hoffmans charismatic cult leader, Adams said she took on the role because of the scene where her character masturbates her husband, and then proceeds to wipe her hands on a towel and put in a damper. This girl is crazy! Adams said, laughing. Sometimes its as a simple as that. Thats what I wanted to do with my summer.

That scene was included in a 20-minute showreel to honor Adams, that she sat through before the conversation. She was spotted wiping away tears during a selection from Doubt, in which she appeared alongside Hoffman, who passed away unexpectedly in 2014. (Hes one my favorite people that Ive had the honor to have in my life, she said.) Also included were clips from her work in Enchanted, Julie & Julia, and incongruously, Man of Steel.

I dont typically like to watch my work after Ive seen it once, maybe twice, said Adams, looking a little uncomfortable. Im a really harsh critic of myself.


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Adams conceded she does a worrisome amount of preparation before each project. I dont sleep, I start acting weird. You can ask my husband! she said, pointing to him in the front row.

Its irritating, she continued. Ive stopped talking to people on set about my preparation. For me it gives me a lot of confidence in my character. You never know whats going to happen on set, so I tend to be someone whos really self reliant.

Adams did however note that shes learned to loosen the reigns a bit, after collaborating with Spike Jones on his 2013 futuristic romance Her. She noted that she felt a shift in her process while on set.

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