Emotional Core of 'Arrival' Attracted Amy Adams to Film

News Sentinel, November 11, 2016 | Go to article overview

Emotional Core of 'Arrival' Attracted Amy Adams to Film


TORONTO - Amy Adams is a five-time Oscar nominee, and with her new sci-fi film "Arrival," there is already buzz about her making another trip to the Academy Awards ceremony in 2017.

The titian-haired actress plays Louise Banks, a linguistics expert who is recruited by the U.S. military to decipher communications from an alien race that has landed on Earth. The fate of the planet is in her hands along with that of Ian Donnelly, a theoretical mathematician (played by Jeremy Renner), in determining whether the visitors are hostile or friendly. (The beings have arrived in egg-shaped vessels in various locations around the world, so other countries are working on the communication problem at the same time, but not necessarily in cooperation with each other.) The drama, written by Eric Heisserer based on Ted Chiang's short story, "Story of Your Life," is directed by Montreal filmmaker Denis Villeneuve ("Sicario," "Prisoners").

At September's Toronto International Film Festival, Adams, who was born in Italy to American parents, spoke about tackling the cerebral sci-fi project, which also contains a heartwarming story about a mother and child, shooting the film on location in Quebec, playing a linguist and how being a mom has influenced her choice of movie projects.

Q: How did you come to the project?

Adams: They sent me a script. No. It sounds so simple, but I was at a point where I wasn't really reading scripts and my wonderful team said, "No, no, no. You're reading this script." I read the script and I fell in love with the character. And then I got to the end of it and I had to go back and re-read it again.But really the emotional core of this is what drew me to it, and then meeting with Denis and knowing that he had the same reaction. Though it has sci- fi and political elements, it really is this woman's story, and it's a story that she's telling to her daughter and that's a beautiful thing to me.

Q: Were you able to contribute to the development of your character because it's difficult to find a strong female character, especially in a sci-fi movie? How was working with Denis Villeneuve, the director?

Adams: Anytime you get a character that is as well developed and emotionally vulnerable and yet intellectual with the strength of character, that's a real gift as an actress. It's a gift because it's a reflection of what women are to me. They're not one thing. They're not purely intellectual. They're not purely vulnerable. We're fully fleshed out human beings and to see that reflected so beautifully was a pleasure and playing it was awesome. Denis was a joy to work with. I would say it's such a bummer he's not here because he is so much fun and he has so much passion and so much love for what he does and you feel it every day when you arrive on set. I always felt so supported. He's the best. If you do a good job, he's like (in a French accent), "I deeply love what you have done," and it's a beautiful thing that he does. That's my bad Denis impersonation. I do it all the time.

Q: Was there a moment when you found out the truth about the character, like when you were reading the script?

Adams: I come to scripts very open. I was moved in the first 10 minutes. I thought I already love this woman and I love what she's bringing to it. I read the whole script and it wasn't until I got to the end and she's talking to the general that I was like, "Oh!" And then I went back and I re-read it with that in mind, and it created this complexity and this duality that I had to play. I thought, "Well, that was really challenging," and it's just this beautiful dance that Louise gets to do between time and space.

Q: You worked with a linguist from Montreal to play your character. In the whole process, what did you learn about communication and the fact that miscommunication in the past has led to great conflict?

Adams: You mean personally what did I learn? I'm still working on that, right? …

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