American Favorite: 16 Facts About Amy Adams

Amy Adams/Photo © Helga Esteb/Shutterstock

With her effervescent personality and “beautiful face of light,” Amy Adams plays a believable ingenue. Yet the thirty-nine-year-old relishes revealing new depths. As a seductive 1970s scam artist in “American Hustle,” for instance, audiences and critics alike delight in her character's foul mouth and plunging necklines -- and the role garnered her an Oscar nomination. “She purposely keeps a little mystery about herself,” the late Philip Seymour Hoffman once said of Adams, who played the wife of his cult-leading charlatan in “The Master” (2012) and a nun to his priest under suspicion in “Doubt” (2008).

Still in theaters, “American Hustle” marks Adams' second collaboration with director David O. Russell since 2010's “The Fighter” and her fifth Oscar nomination since 2005's “Junebug.” It's also her first Golden Globe win. As Sydney Prosser, a pseudo Brit whose biggest con may be fooling herself, Adams is “hell on wheels,” critics said. And she still keeps us guessing: Her other project in 2013, Spike Jonze's “Her,” cast her as a documentary filmmaker who befriends a writer (Joaquin Phoenix) dating a computer operating system. “Obviously, Amy kind of can do anything … and more and more every year,” Jonze has said.

We can't wait to see what dimensions Adams brings to projects such as the forthcoming adaptation of Steve Martin's novel Object of Beauty and director Lee Daniels' take on Janis Joplin. In the meantime, we're hinging on our wonder at Adams' breadth and depth into research -- and herewith the results of that research: sixteen fun facts about this woman we love to watch.

1. Amy Adams was born on a U.S. military base in Italy, the middle child among four brothers and two sisters. The family settled in Castle Rock, Colorado, before she turned ten.

2. Adams' dad loved to sing in nightclubs or pizzerias with a guitar, and her mom was a semi-professional body-builder.

3. Adams worked as a Hooters waitress in Atlanta for about three weeks once she turned eighteen: “I did learn, quickly, that short shorts and beer don’t mix!” she's said.

4. She warmed up to her va-va-voom outfits in “American Hustle” by thinking that her character felt “empowered” by them. Good posture and editing kept her from revealing too much.

5. A music-theater veteran, Adams has sung in three films: “Enchanted” (2007), “Miss Pettigrew Lives for Day” (2008), and “The Muppets” (2011). She's called singing “Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” alone onstage during the Oscars “the most terrifying” thing she's done.

6. Her film debut was “Drop Dead Gorgeous” (1999), playing a small-town beauty-pageant contestant.

7. Though known as a redhead, Adams is actually naturally blond. She dyed her hair after moving to L.A., landing in TV series such as “Manchester Prep,” and often being cast as “the bitchy girl.”

8. Adams was pregnant with her daughter, Aviana, when she completed filming her role as Charlene, the Boston barmaid and girlfriend of boxer Micky Ward in “The Fighter.” Her partner is longtime boyfriend and fiance Darren Le Gallo, whom she met in an acting class.

9. Although she's a fairy-tale princess in Disney's “Enchanted,” her character is not part of the official “Disney Princess” lineup. Disney nixed the idea after realizing it would have to pay lifelong rights for Adams' image.

10. Adams is close friends with Emily Blunt, who played her sister in “Sunshine Cleaning” (2008).

11. Adams knows how to knit. Indeed, Meryl Streep taught her the craft on the set of “Doubt.”

12. She can operate a Muppet. There was limited space for puppeteers in a scene from “The Muppets” where the characters pack into a car, so she and co-star Jason Segel worked those on either side of them. We can't imagine Adams complained about the extra work. “Growing up, 'wocka wocka' was like my thing — I would tell a joke and then go, 'Wocka wocka!' I was a bit of a nerd,” she's said.

13. She had no qualms over the scene in “The Master” where her character, Peggy Dodd, performs a sex act on her husband (Hoffman) over a sink to relieve his stress. “It was actually one of my favorite scenes upon reading it because it helped let me know who the character was, and how much control and the lengths she will go to to maintain it,” she's said.

14. To lighten the mood between emotional takes on “Her,” she would ask Phoenix to join her in singing songs from musicals such as “Annie.”

15. Adams suggested that Jennifer Lawrence kiss her during a bathroom confrontation in “American Hustle” because it's the “craziest thing” she could imagine Lawrence's character doing.

16. Adams' favorite movies include “Gone with the Wind,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Vertigo,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “Paulie,” the 1998 children's flick about a talking parrot trying to reunite with a little girl. “Here's the thing: there are all the choices you can make that you know sound really good, and then there're the ones that you really watch, like a hundred times,” she's said. “I love 'Paulie.'”