Amy Adams was born in Italy to American parents Kathryn and Richard Adams, while her father was a U.S. serviceman. She was raised in Castle Rock, Colorado.
Adams sang in the school choir at Douglas County High School and was an apprentice dancer at a local dance company, with the ambition of becoming a ballerina.
However, after moving to Atlanta with her mother, Amy worked as a greeter at The Gap and as a Hooters hostess to support herself before finding work as a dancer at Boulder's Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse. There she appeared in Brigadoon and A Chorus Line. It was there that she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner-theater director who asked her to move to Chanhassen, Minnesota for more regional dinner theater work.
Nursing a pulled muscle that kept her from dancing, she was free to audition for a part in Drop Dead Gorgeous, which was filming nearby in Minnesota. During the filming, Kirstie Alley encouraged her to move to Los Angeles, where she soon won a part in the Fox television version of the film Cruel Intentions in the part played in the film by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kathryn Merteuil. Although three episodes were filmed, the troubled series never aired.
After more failed television spots, she landed a major role in Catch Me If You Can opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. But this did not provide the break-through she might have hoped for, with no work being offered for about a year. She eventually returned to television, and joined the short-lived series Dr. Vegas.
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-----Her role in the low-budget independent film Junebug - which was shot in 21 days - got her noticed, including an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress as well as other awards.
The following year, her ability to look like a wide-eyed Disney animated heroine helped her to be chosen from about 300 actresses auditioning for the role of Giselle in the animated/live-action feature film Enchanted which would prove to be her major break-through role. Her vivacious yet innocent portrayal allowed her to use her singing and dancing talents. Her performance garnered a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
Adams next appeared in the major production Charlie Wilson's War and went on to act in the independent film Sunshine Cleaning which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
In 2008, she also starred as Delysia Lafosse in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. She sings "If I Didn't Care" in the film.
Next, her portrayal of Sister James in Doubt which brought her a second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress as well as nominations for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award, and a British Academy Film award.
She next appeared as Amelia Earhart in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and as a post-9/11 hot line counselor, aspiring writer, amateur cook and blogger in Julie & Julia.
In March 2008, Adams hosted the seventh episode of the 33rd season of Saturday Night Live. In the episode, she played various characters, and sang "What is this Feeling" from Wicked in a mock battle with SNL cast member Kristen Wiig during the opening monologue.
In 2010 she stared as Charlene Fleming in The Fighter. For this role, Adams was nominated for the Golden Globe Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress.