Last week, you got to read about an early look I took at Julie & Julia. This week, you get my interview with star Amy Adams, whom I have to say is finally starting to comport herself like the movie star she has it in her to be. The last few times I've seen or interviewed her, she looked a little dowdy. Like she couldn't even be bothered. Not the case here. She was positively glowing, and looked every bit as glamorous as her co-star Meryl Streep at the press day. Keeping in the spirit of the flick, which side-by-side adapts Julia Child's autobiography of her life in France and Julie Powell's Child-obsessed blog-ography Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, I quizzed Amy about her own culinary skills, the perils of making a movie about food, and, of course, the larger-than-life Julia Child.
Cole Haddon: Amy, I got to meet with Susan Spungen, who was the food stylist for Julie & Julia. She told me she spent a couple sessions with you at the Institute of Culinary Education. How comfortable were you before that and after in the kitchen?
Amy Adams: I'm not really intimidated by the kitchen. I think I'm a little bit tidier now that I've learned the correct way of doing stuff, so it doesn't look as messy. My chopped salad is more consistent now. She gave me a lot of great tips, and a lot of shortcuts that I never would have thought of, so I don't mind preparation as much. That's opened up a world of cooking to me because I have much more respect and enjoyment of prep work.
CH: Were you familiar with Julia Child beforehand?
AA: I was familiar with her, but more as a characterization [on Saturday Night Live]. Not the intimate details. It's been a joy getting to know more about her life. I only knew her as sort of larger-than-life.
CH: I also got to speak with your on-screen husband Chris Messina a few weeks ago. He talked about having to learn food discipline for this movie, that discipline being the only way to survive all-day shoots that sometimes involved eating, eating, and then eating the same thing again.
AA [laughing]: He had to.
CH: I think he maxed out at 35 bruschettas one day. Did you have a similar experience?
AA: It was important [that the audience] know that we really enjoyed the food [we were eating]. But I haven't figured out, and I still haven't figured out, how Chris did it. How he was able to eat, and talk, and nothing falls out. It might be a structural thing, because with me, I would talk, and it's a full show. Bits flying out. I had a different relationship with the food on set [than him], but we all enjoyed it. Like the chocolate cake moment, that was so much fun. But we also negotiated what we ate the night before, like "What are we shooting tomorrow?" OK, then I'll have a small dinner and a small breakfast and be hungry. It definitely helped.
CH: Has this role changed your perspective on food at all?
AA: Not necessarily changed my perspective on food but on cooking, and on the reasons to cook, and how I cook. I take my time a little bit now, enjoy it. I'm starting to cook with my friends a lot more in tandem, and I'm realizing how wonderful that is.
CH: Have you had a chance to cook from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking yet?
AA: Yes, that was one of the assignments [director] Nora [Ephron] gave me. We had to cook a dish from the book and blog about it.
CH: And the dish?
AA: The dish was "Brussels sprouts with cheese," and I can't even say it in French without sounding foolish. But they were beautiful, they were beautiful. I wrote about it, much to my chagrin. I have so much respect for writers. It's my one great envy. If I was envious of anything, aside from height, it's writing. To really be able to sit down and express yourself, confidently, I can't do it. It just doesn't make any sense.