Enchanted

Enchanted

Amy Adams sparkles in Enchanted, displaying her formidable talent for drama, comedy – and singing.

In a film that lives up to its’ title, she plays a lovely maiden from a fairy-tale world, who is hurled from her home into the harsh reality of New York.

Leaving her ‘true love’ behind, she embarks on a relationship that is entirely different from anything she has ever experienced – with a cynical lawyer, (Patrick Dempsey) who is also a single parent and does not believe in happy ever after endings. In this delightful fantasy, that combines animation with a strong live action romantic comedy, - two distinct worlds collide, with dramatic- and entertaining consequences. Amy Adams personifies the archetypal Disney princess as Giselle – a fairy tale maiden from the land of Andalasia, who is in love with her Prince Charming – actually Prince Edward (James Marsden).

The jealous, power-crazed Queen Narissa, (Susan Sarandon) uses her evil magic to banish the lovely maiden to Times Square in Manhattan where everyone seems unfriendly and antagonistic- everyone except the handsome divorce lawyer she bumps into with his little girl.

Even he is reluctant to befriend this strange, but beautiful woman who is wandering the streets of New York in a huge, frothy bridal gown. Before long, he becomes ‘enchanted’ by her winning personality and they become increasingly attracted to one another.

Life becomes complicated though, when Giselle’s fiancée and the wicked Queen Narissa follow Giselle to New York. Adams displays her formidable acting skills as well as her musical talent as her character frequently bursts into song in true Disney style. She is captivating to watch and there is great chemistry with Patrick Dempsey. Enchanted is an action-packed, and very funny film, with fabulous musical numbers by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. The score was by Alan Menken. Amy Adams, 33, was born in Italy and grew up in Colorado, one of seven children and studied ballet throughout her childhood and loved performing. The accomplished actress has appeared in Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Wedding Date, The Ex and Catch Me You Can. She was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 2005 film, Junebug. Her latest film is Charlie Wilson's War and her next project is Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.

How did visualize Giselle?

When I first read the script, I felt I knew who she was and I felt that it was a role I understood, oddly enough. I think that I've always been attracted to characters who are positive and who come from a very innocent place.

I think there's a lot of room for discovery in those characters and that's something I always have fun playing. And I didn't treat the part like it was a joke. I treated it like it was Chekhov or any drama and maybe they sensed my sincerity.

Did you watch every Disney animated film for research?

Well, I wish I could say that I spent hours watching all the films, but the truth is that I had done so much of that in my childhood and my teenage years that I already knew them very well. There was no need to study.

So if anything, I tried to avoid them because I didn't want to do an imitation of one of the previous princesses. I wanted to create a new character. Kevin Lima had done such a wonderful job. He got us to prerecord our voices so that he could storyboard the whole film. So for each scene, I knew exactly what he was looking for in the physical and emotional nature of the character, what shots he intended to use. It was really helpful for me in finding this character and world.

What was it like portraying a classic fairy tale princess?

I loved Disney princesses growing up, my own favorite was Cinderella. It was fun playing Giselle. I had a lot of permission to be free and get in touch my inner child and play. What I like about Giselle is that there is such a sense of possibility with her character.

She was not born a princess and we identify with her as a young girl I think, when we see her in animated form with the forest animals, because she proves that you can come from anywhere and become special.

What challenges did the role entail for you?

I think all acting requires imagination. There was a different challenge with Enchanted, not because I was playing a princess, but because we were doing musical numbers, she bursts into song like every true Disney princess.

Also, this role was challenging because there was a lot of action and romance and we were often acting with elements that were not present (like the computer generated chipmunk, Pip) so it was essential to imagine what was happening around me. That can be very challenging, but it is fun to do that, to use your imagination to that extent.

What was the biggest challenge for you?

Wearing the white dress was grueling. It weighed about 45 pounds and the entire weight was on my hips so occasionally it felt like I was in traction. I couldn’t move directly forwards or backwards because if I did, the dress would collapse underneath me – either way I went down and I learned the hard way the first night, but it was great, because it helped to inform how I (Giselle) moved in the real world and it actually ended up adding to the character, sometimes things that seem to be challenges end up being gifts.

What kind of woman is Giselle, can you talk about her personality?

I think she is never too sugary or too saccharine because she is open, so although there is an innocence, she is never just satisfied sitting in that innocence.

She is willing to learn and grow and to stand up for what she believes in. She is still feisty, although she is kind. Her innocence comes from the fact that she has not been exposed too much in her life, but as she learns about herself, her world changes.

But it was important to me that she did not lose her light as she evolved, because that is what makes her lovely as a character. I wanted her to be a strong character with her own light shining from inside.

QWhat is Giselle’s journey all about?

She discovers what love really is and what being human is all about, she really evolves and learns what it feels like to have genuine emotions. She finds out that life is more complicated than it has appeared so far in her life and that it is not all about happy endings, but can be very exciting.

What is the overall appeal of the film?

I think it appeals to everyone, it is such fun. I hope that children will grow up with this film as a classic, a standard and a marker of their youth, so to speak, in the same way that certain Disney films really affected my imagination and my sense of possibility, like Mary Poppins. That resonated so much with me.

I loved films like Pete's Dragon. I loved the idea that you could have an imaginary dragon cartoon friend, that no one else could see, that sparks your imagination.

I think that is so important in this world, because imagination leads to innovation. For me it led to acting, but it could be geared towards science or politics. I think you have to be creative in life whatever you do, in order to get ahead.

When did you stop believing in fairy tales and magic and princesses?

Well I am still here believing right now. I do believe in the idea of princesses, I think all girls and women like to feel like princesses. – even for a day. I think that is why the wedding industry does so well. You want that fairy tale moment in your life and I think most – I can’t speak for all – women, do enjoy that, they love having moments of romance.

As far as believing in princes, as you grow up, your idea of what is perfect changes and I personally have been very fortunate to find somebody who matched my grown up idea of a prince and he is wonderful.

The singing must have been a challenging, there are a lot of musical numbers in the film, and so you are acting and singing at the same time?

That was not daunting for me because I have always been a huge fan of movie musicals. Julie Andrews was my princess, I thought of her as Disney royalty when I was a kid.

I love singing, but I was always more of a chorus singer, I was not a soloist by any means, I was a dancer by trade, I worked in musical theater before I moved to Los Angeles, so I was very comfortable with the idea of singing, but Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz just raised the level so much in my mind, that I immediately got into the musical aspect of the film.

I really wanted to make them proud and I wanted to use my own voice if I could. And I was thrilled that they were happy with my voice.

How did you get the musical tone of the character right?

I did listen to a lot of Disney princesses because they wanted the first number to be reminiscent of Snow White or Cinderella - softer and more lilting. And as she becomes more real, we bring it up to a more current style with ‘That's How You Know’, which is much more of a Broadway showstopper style of song.

If you'll notice, the songs continue to progress throughout the film. It goes into ‘So Close’, which is a lot more pop influenced. So the music continues to evolve and I did pay a lot of attention to that and that was part of what I trained to do was try to sing in that sort of operatic style, then also do a more Broadway style.

Do you sing a lot at home?

I sing all the time, I literally burst into song all the time throughout the day. I love karaoke actually. I have to admit, my most recent favorite, which I think is funny, is ‘Thank You For The Music’, by Abba.

I don’t think one should ever take oneself too seriously when doing karaoke so my songs tend to have a very self effacing air to them.”

Giselle is so sweet and sincere – how much is there of you in her? Did you grow up with strong moral values?

My parents instilled a lot of traditional values and I think those values are in my fiber now and part of who I am. One of the things I grew up with was the concept: ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’. That is very important to me. If I am ever mean to someone, I feel really bad about it and I do my best to be kind.

Were there funny moments during filming, when you were dressed in these outrageous costumes?

You have to have a fairly twisted sense of humor to spend several months on a film like this. Nothing is funnier than standing around in a big, fluffy, white princess dress being normal – that is ironic enough and we would have a lot of laughs when we were filming.

What was it like working with Patrick – there is a great chemistry on screen?

Well if you can’t have chemistry with McDreamy, someone as gorgeous as Patrick Dempsey – then I don’t know who you can have chemistry with.

Working with him was wonderful, we really got along so well and he was such a good friend to me during the shoot, he was generous and energetic.

How challenging was the very dramatic and romantic ballroom scene, in which you are dancing together?

We took dance classes together before we started shooting, because there is a big ballroom scene and that was very unusual. Usually you can keep a distance from the people you are working with, but learning to dance with Patrick, I had to break down some of my own barriers to learn how to ‘partner dance’.

I was already a dancer, so I thought I knew what I was doing, and I was not willing to let him lead me, I was stubborn, I said ‘no you just do what you need to do’ but it did not work out as I had imagined and I lost a couple of toe nails. They were ripped off. Then a ballroom professional came in and watched us dance and he took me aside and said, ‘Amy here’s the problem: you’re not letting him lead you’. I said ‘yeah I am’ and he said ‘no you are not because you don’t want to surrender, just remember that you are dancing your own dance even though you are being led’ and that was an important life lesson for me. I think that is true with relationships in general.

But working with Patrick it was really important – to get to the point at which I trusted him. I had to learn to trust him fully to lead me backwards through a crowd of people and I think really helped us form communication and trust on set, because we were forced to tell each other what we really needed.

What was your own fairy tale moment?

Going to the Oscars was definitely one (when I was nominated for Junebug), walking down that red carpet and realizing that the moment was actually happening and I did not lose my shoe.

Have you ever felt like Giselle, when she is so lost in New York, a new world, can you identify with her?

When I first came to Los Angeles, I came from Minnesota where I had been working, I didn’t come from a really small town, but I was very wide eyed, I really did have some Giselle moments.

Being in LA made me grow up, I became much more careful about the kind of people I invited into my life. It was definitely hard and sometimes scary. I was scared of myself and scared of success.

It looks like your career is very exciting at the moment with several new films?

I am having such a great time. It was fantastic fun making Charlie Wilson's War, we shot that last year after Enchanted. I play a congressional administrative aid to Tom Hanks’ character, who is a congressman, working to appropriate funds for the Afghan army, assisting rebels in their war with the Soviets, back in the 80s.

Mike Nichols was the director and it was just unbelievable. It was so much fun. Just to be on that set and learn from these people and get to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Hanks do these amazing scenes together and to learn from Mike Nichols was extraordinary. it was like going to school.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and that was shot in London, it’s a comedy with Frances McDormand, who has become my personal fairy godmother, she has been wonderful to me, so has Susan Sarandon on Enchanted, I’ve been lucky to work with fantastic role models.

Enchanted is released on DVD 7th April


tagged in