Amy Adams is a self-proclaimed "mess." She's squirrely, self-loathing, obsessive, a worrier and a perfectionist — and those are just a handful of self-deprecating qualities that surfaced in her Vogue interview.
"I'm a perfectionist," the 40-year-old argues in the December issue. "With my work! Not with life. I'm never satisfied with the take. I'll walk away from it, but I could go and go and go. I've had to learn to be OK with it."
The "American Hustle" star has earned five Oscar nominations and captivated audiences again and again with her fluidity. The actress, who plays artist Margaret Keane in the movie "Big Eyes," coming out on Christmas, is painted as an enigma in her feature piece for the mag, which boasts whimsical portraits with "Big Eyes" director Tim Burton taken by Annie Leibovitz.
Her interview also took place on a fishing trip. (A fisherwoman, she is not.)
The "Batman v. Superman" actress moved to Los Angeles from Minnesota in 1999 when she was 24. It was in those early years, when she was taking any and every role that she could get, that she says she was a "mess."
"I was able to do everything from day player to guest star to small parts in movies, and it really, to this day, gives me perspective, but going through it was painful, to say the least," Adams says. "I felt a lot of pressure, but I just wasn't able to get there in the audition room. Or even in meetings. My squirreliness would come out, and people wouldn't feel confident. I've always been someone who had, like, a spirit of perseverance, but I actually almost quit because I was starting not to like who I was."
Her lawyer gave her a push, telling her that she was doing something right just by being able to book so many jobs — despite getting fired. Now, though, she says she's "just so happy to be around people and eager to please" when she's on set. (And that's when she described herself as a golden retriever.)
Directors she's worked with, including "The Fighter" and "American Hustle's" David O. Russell and "The Master's" Paul Thomas Anderson, describe her as obsessive and a worrier.
It should be noted that she tends to "imagine the worst-case scenario and then work backward from there," Vogue's Jonathan Van Meter writes. She's also one of those actors who stays in character on set, even when she isn't filming.
But when it came to growing up, specifically to turning 40 in August, the actress said she had a bit of a meltdown.
"I was like, I'm 40 and I still care what people think of me; I still don't do laundry so I'm always out of things; I'm just not a grown-up at all,' and I had this expectation that I would be by this age. It wasn't, 'Oh, I'm getting old and I'm going to lose something vibrant about myself.' It was more that I was just 'so disappointed with myself,'" she finishes in what's described as a Katherine Hepburn voice. "It's just awful. Any chance for self-loathing!"
And that brings us to worrying ...
"It feels like I worry about everything — mothering, relationships.... I think it's because I want to continue to grow; I don't like being stagnant. Especially when you watch how fast children grow and what they take into their soul and their intellect. It's like we make this decision to stop growing. I don't want to do that."
At least she doesn't have to worry anymore about turning 40. Perfect!