PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday.
Amy Adams landed her sixth nomination last week for her performance as Lynne Cheney in Adam McKay’s “Vice.” It’s quite the achievement just 14 years into her screen career, a career that essentially kicked off with Oscar recognition, for 2005’s “Junebug.” In “Vice,” she once again stars opposite Christian Bale, who is also along for the Oscar season ride (as is co-star Sam Rockwell). The film has been quite divisive however, with some critics adoring it, others deriding it. That passionate split is healthy, as Adams sees it.
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“I don’t always pay attention to reviews,” Adams says. “Sometimes I like to read one or two good and one or two bad, just so I sort of understand people’s perspective. It was interesting, the level of divisiveness, the passion people had both ways. In a way it kind of reflects the times we’re in. But there were people on both sides of the aisle who either liked or didn’t like the film. Indifference is one of my least favorite things. I like that there’s a conversation. When we’re dealing with political elements, conversation is important.”
The drive of the Cheneys in the film remains one of its most fascinating considerations. It leaves a lingering question: Why? Why the insatiable push for power? That and other factors were part of the psychology Adams enjoyed exploring with the project. She likes digging into a character to figure out what makes her tick.
“I think you get to a point in life where you can lose perspective in the pursuit of power or wealth,” Adams says. “I don’t think that’s what happened to Lynne, but I do know she came from a real rough upbringing. She doesn’t talk about it in the way that our society, everyone’s so open and shares about their pain and trauma. She’s honest about it in her book but everything feels like it’s shot in soft focus in the way she tells her story about the tragedies in her family’s history and her dad’s problems with gambling or having to move into an apartment because they lost their house and going to the state championships for baton twirling and seeing the girls of privilege and understanding she was one of the only ones there in a handmade costume, little things like that where you start to go, ‘Oh, she created a real drive, understanding that it was going to be up to her to get herself out of her situation.’ I think she learned early that her hard work could be rewarded. Also, ambition still feels like such a dirty word for women. Lynne didn’t feel apologetic about being ambitious.”
Meanwhile, we take a trip down memory lane with Adams’ five previous nominations. On hitting the circuit running with “Junebug” in 2005:
“It’s why I always try to approach awards season with a great attitude and to look at the gifts of it, because I would not be where I am today if people hadn’t got behind me for ‘Junebug.'”
Recalling the “Doubt” masterclass of 2008:
“I really wanted to be taken seriously … To get to dive into a character study at that point in my career with Philip [Seymour Hoffman] and Meryl [Streep] was — I keep saying a gift, but it was a gift. I got to see these two masters work their craft.”
On the first of three circuits with Bale, 2010’s “The Fighter”:
“That was a hard awards season because I had just had my daughter and I was shooting ‘The Muppets’ at the same time. I remember I sang ‘Que Sera’ to David [O. Russell] at the Oscars!”
An emotional recollection of “The Master” in 2012:
“Honestly some of my favorite acting work that I’ve seen from any actors are the scenes that Phil [Hoffman] and Joaquin [Phoenix] do together. It’s the only time that I’ve played a character where I really, really was sad about what the character was doing on set.”
And on tackling variety with “American Hustle” in 2013:
“Whether it’s intentional or not I’m always attracted to things I haven’t done, or if something feels like a new challenge, that’s exciting to me. [The awards circuit] feels different every time. I try to roll with it.”
For more, including thoughts on her next big role in Joe Wright’s “The Woman in the Window,” listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link below.