The IFP Gotham Awards always seem to have a winning formula when they pair up an accessible American Amy with an otherworldly fantasy goddess from across the sea, and the two have a lovefest. One year, it was Amy Schumer with Tilda Swinton, and this year, it was Amy Adams with Cate Blanchett. Blanchett appeared at the awards Monday to give a career tribute to Adams, and their mutual admiration and friendship made us want to join their BFF club. Adams, blushing after Blanchett read her a fan letter, told the audience that she used to think that it was better to admire Blanchett from afar: “The less that she knows me, the more likely we are to be friends.” This was her thinking, at least, after she first encountered Blanchett at the Oscars. She’s since realized she was wrong, and it led to this glowing tribute. Read on for what Blanchett had to say about how awesome Adams is:
I’m presenting something to Amy Adams, and I know exactly what I’ve been thinking, apart from the fact that she’s fabulous and deserves everything. It’s a bit dumb. It’s kind of a girlie-sort of fan letter that’s sort of slightly creepy, and very earnest, but here we go.
I have a huge, huge actor crush on Amy Adams. It’s huge. And yeah, I’m not alone. I would beg, borrow, and steal every single — I told you it was creepy — character she created. But the thing is, Amy’s screen presence is so utterly unique, her work is so seamless, that it’s impossible to pick it apart, let alone try to imitate it. Her performances are seemingly effortless, but put the characters she’s played in the hands of a lesser actor, someone less generous, less skilled, less Amy, and the gossamer-fine membrane that it takes to put a character on a screen would just disintegrate. It would turn to dust.
Now I can think of very few actresses across the ages who’ve played so many roles, in films of such different tone and temperature, and the extraordinary double-whammy — speaking of extraordinary, that Moonlight film is extraordinary — the double-whammy of Nocturnal Animals and Arrival is case in point. And still fewer actresses have played, or rather melted, in such a vast array of characters: erotic dancer, gallery owner, linguist, cult member, to name a few. Kind of absurd, Amy’s breadth. But there’s never a whiff of judgment on the character’s politics or sexuality, there’s no judgment on their actions or their socioeconomic standings, their relative intelligence or their conditions, big or small. Amy never, ever, ever tells an audience what to think. Rather, she bypasses that merely cerebral process and then invites an audience to feel first. And she spits the audience out, gently, like a mangled sort of stumped little fur ball after the movie is done … thinking and dreaming about what she’s allowed us to experience.
So often, watching a film that Amy’s been in, I’m inspired, but also very discombobulated. And I can be heard, sort of muttering down the street, like, “What the fuck just happened to me? I had no idea she was going to take me here!” And actor-to-actor — and no one scrutinizes and perhaps appreciates, often begrudgingly, the performance of another actor, more than an actor — there are so many, many, many qualities that I admire in Amy’s work. Her lack of self-aggrandizement. Her lack of vanity. The movie star that she is, you will never, ever, ever be catching Amy Adams doing a star turn. She could, and she’d knock you sideways with a feather, but she’s always got a firm commitment to the story at hand, and the following traumas, and the delicate second-by-second closeness of how you realize these things most cruelly. She’s truly scrumptious. [Laughs.]
I marvel at Amy’s indefatigable curiosity, as a performer. It’s the best listening/acting in the business by a country mile. And I don’t know how she does it. But Amy appears sort of porous on the screen, not just inhabiting emotional states, but allow them to pull and unfold, a little like patches around her. It’s almost as if she vibrates at a different intensity and wavelength for each performance, at a different wavelength from the rest of us. Without wobbling. And she can be so still, and contain so much, that it feels like she might just explode. She makes the ordinary extraordinary, with exquisite observation and detail. Her characters are profoundly accessible on screen, wide, wide open doors to allow the audience in, yet she has this uncanny parallel ability to realize people who hold a secret, and often from themselves, so they’re full of mystery and magnetism.
I fall in love with Amy’s characters every time, no matter what their circumstances. Every single time. And my list of love affairs is endless: Ashley in Junebug, gratefully and uncomplicatedly receiving a spoon at her baby shower; American Hustle, and I kind of go there every frame, every single frame, of that film, she bewitched and beguiled us. And often she works outside her comfort zone. And who can forget, “Don’t call me skank!” [from The Fighter] It’s the ultimate “what could happen when women are nasty to other women” scene. But perhaps, never more rapidly, I’ve fallen in love with Amy in a just sublime, boundless, impossible performance in Arrival. Not only did she tap into a profound, universal grief that every parent feels, that we feel as human beings, and she did this within moments of the film’s opening. But then she unleashes the fucking tickle guns! And it was cruel! It came out so early in the film that I, and every single person in the cinema, was a mess. And as the film progressed, Amy, as your performance unfolds, it just got messier and messier. It was really definitionally bittersweet. And Amy Adams is perhaps the single reason why we prefer watching movies in the dark, so we can weep with her, we can laugh with her, we can moan and fear her, and lust after her, without being watched ourselves. And Amy, you deserve every single accolade imaginable, as a person, and as an actress. You have a rare lightness of spirit, and such depth of heart, and a talent that knows no bounds. So congratulations on whatever the title of this award is!