The Hollywood princess

ONCE UPON a time there was a beautiful princess who fell in love with a prince who was downright, well, McDreamy. That would be Amy Adams, the 33-year-old actress who, as the star of the new movie Enchanted, found herself playing said princess ...

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Published: Sat 24 Nov 2007, 10:40 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:38 AM

opposite Patrick Dempsey, star of the hit television series Grey's Anatomy.

'I have a scene where I fall into Patrick Dempsey's arms,' Adams says. 'He's a pretty great guy. My female friends are like, 'What was it like to kiss him?' The truth is, I couldn't get anywhere near him - my princess dress was so big that it was like a tent was between us!''

Such is life for the star of Enchanted. Adams provides the voice for the beautiful Princess Giselle, a cartoon heroine who, after running afoul of the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon), is banished from the kingdom ... into the live-action world of New York City, circa 2007.

'I really wanted the role,' Adams says, 'because I loved all of those classic Disney characters as a little girl. When Disney made 'The Little Mermaid' (1989) I was much older, but I still saw it in a theater three times.'

The film's signature image is Giselle's first encounter with the real world, as she emerges from a manhole into Times Square.

'It was a real manhole,' Adams says during a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home, 'and I was down there in a big, fluffy, white dress. I was informed that the manhole was safe from rats and roaches. At least that's what I was told - I didn't even think about the potential. I don't think it would have been advantageous to my scene if I was jumping around going, 'What is that crawling on my ankle?''

Simply walking in the dress was a challenge, she says, let alone clambering out of a manhole.

'That dress was a feat of engineering,' Adams says. 'It had steel hoops to hold me in, and the rest of it was basically a tent. The dress would be put on me, and there was no way to maneuver when I had it on. It was also dangerous - if someone stepped on the dress, I would immediately fall over. It was a learning process when it came to moving in the dress.

'Luckily,' she says, 'there were times when I could wear just part of the dress. In the manhole I only wore the top of the dress. We even had to do tests to see how much of the dress could fit into the manhole.'

Handling the dress wasn't the only challenge of playing the character, however.

'Giselle has this real dilemma,' Adams says. 'She's just like some women who live in a fantasy world, and she must join the real world. She's discovering all of the joys and hardships that come with being real.'

One of those hardships is the need for house-cleaning, in which Giselle gets some help from her animal friends, the same way one of her predecessors did in a classic scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

'We had real rats and pigeons working with me to clean the house,' Adams recalls. 'I was told that these were clean rats and pigeons that were trained to be animal movie stars. Of course, you do still think, 'Did they really cast these animals or just pick them off the street?'

'Luckily they animated the cockroaches in the scene,' she adds. 'That wouldn't have been fun for me.'

Less helpful, at least on camera, was Susan Sarandon as the wicked queen.

'She looks so great in this old-hag makeup,' Adams says. 'Susan is truly terrifying when you see her. Between takes it was fun, because she's such a warm, joyful woman. It was fantastic to work with her.'

Sarandon is a movie star, of course, a status to which Enchanted may well lift Adams - a prospect which she regards with some reluctance.

'I'm lucky that I'm in a place with my career that people are more interested in my work than in me,' she says. 'I have no interest in having a camera in my face all of the time. I've managed to go this far and have kept my privacy. We'll see what happens now.'

Amy's big break came with the independently made comedy Junebug (2005), in which she played the pregnant sister-in-law of Embeth Davidtz's character and earned a surprise Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress.

'The Oscar nomination was a shock,' Adams says. 'Junebug was one of those word-of-mouth movies, and I think it's neat to see that kind of fairy tale come true in this business.'

Since then Adams has appeared in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006) and, as the voice of Polly, 'Underdog' (2007). She has a small role in the upcoming 'Charlie Wilson's War,' starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and will then be seen in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as an American singer/actress who befriends a middle-aged London governess (Frances McDormand).

In other words, the Hollywood fairy tale continues.

'I miss Colorado,' the actress says, 'but, at the same time, I could never be who I am now if I had stayed there. It's strange that, once you leave a place, you become a different person.

'There's good and bad to that fact,' Adams says, laughing. 'I could still be doing local theater now, instead of standing in my shower humming my own songs from my Disney movie. Is this really my life?'

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