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Interview: Enchanting Amy Adams

Amy Adams

In "Enchanted," actress Amy Adams wears a 45-pound dress but gives a lighter-than-air performance. Adams plays Princess Giselle, of the two-dimensional animated world of Andalasia — where songbirds answer her call and help design her wardrobe. Her knight in shining armor, Prince Edward (James Marsden) is also just a love ballad away and ready to wed in 24 hours. But when Giselle gets pushed into the three-dimensional and not-so-kind world of modern-day Manhattan, Adams' true test begins — how do you play a girl who puts full faith in "happily ever after" in a place where even "kinda satisfied" can be tough to come by? Okay, it helps that handsome single dad Robert Phillip (Patrick Dempsey) comes to her rescue, albeit reluctantly. But Giselle's biggest challenge — aside from escaping the clutches of Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) is finding out if storybook love is the same thing as true love.

We talked to Adams about what it's like to step into a Disney fairy tale.

Beware! Some spoilers ahead.

What do you think is the message of this movie?
That sometimes what we believe to be the fairy-tale prince is not. We get so fixated on what we want that we sometimes miss what we need.

Do you believe you can you fall in love in a day, like Giselle and Prince Edward?
Yes. You can fall out of love in a day, too.

Giselle is an update on the Disney heroine. She realizes that waiting for your Prince to come and carry you off isn't really the thing to do. Can you talk about why this is such a different Disney princess?
I think when compared to Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, then, yes, [she's different]. But the more modern Disney princesses really reflect how women have changed over time. Those women represented how women were portrayed at that time in our society and I really feel from the Little Mermaid on, they've all been really strong-willed — look at Mulan. That girl, I wouldn't mess with her. All of them are girls who really bucked tradition and really went after their own destiny.

You did such a good job of capturing the mannerisms of all the Disney animated princesses that we've seen over the years. Which characters in specific did you base your performance on, or how many hours and hours of Disney movies did you watch?
I would love to say that I sat in front of the television and watched them for hours but the truth is that I spent my entire childhood watching these films so they were already so much a part of who I am. If anything, I wanted not to do an imitation of one princess specifically but to make Giselle very unique to bring her to life.

Did they ever take you to watch the princesses at the Disney theme parks?
(Laughs.) No, no. I auditioned to be one of those when I was 19. I didn't get cast because at the time, they were looking for Mulans and Jasmines.

Patrick Dempsey said you two had quite a challenge filming your ballroom scene. He even took off your toenail?
I heard you all laughing about it. The toenail was my fault. I was trained as a dancer, so I had assumed I was correct. It made perfect sense to me at the time but I lost a couple toenails in not wanting to submit and learned an important lesson in my life. A dance teacher took me aside during the process and said, "Just because you're putting your trust in him doesn't mean you're not dancing your own dance." And it's something I've applied to many areas of my life since then.

Besides dancing with him, what else did you like about working with Patrick [Dempsey] and what was it like working with James [Marsden]?
I really lucked out with the two of them. Not only is it just a wonderful, beautiful distraction during your day but they're also both incredibly charming and hard-working and just lovely men. And Patrick and I had to learn to communicate in those dance lessons. It really helped with our trust because we got to know each other's weaknesses and strengths and you learn a lot about another person and who they are when you have to learn to dance with them. So I think it really strengthened our relationship on the screen, how much we had to learn to rely on each other. And I'm really thankful for that. I'm thankful for his openness and his support. He never once made me feel foolish for what I had to accomplish.

And Jimmy is so invested in this role. I think he's just a revelation in this film. People are going to say, "That's James Marsden? He's fantastic!" He just really played it so well and in doing the scenes with him and watching him work, it let me know that I was on the right track.

Patrick and James are dreamy co-stars, but it's almost like they tried to make you earn your keep by having you work with rats for the scene in Robert Phillip's apartment. Were they computer-generated or real?
There were some real rats and pigeons. They were very clean and very well trained. I love animals. I was really specific about no cockroaches but rats and pigeons don't bother me.

Do you feel a sense of responsibility to be a role model for little girls?
I'm not a huge misbehaver anyway so I just feel like, I'm bound to make mistakes in my life but I'm a very honest person. So I think that's the most important thing you can be for a young girl, is honest.

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