In Julie & Julia, Amy Adams portrays Julie Powell, an unhappy writer living in New York who decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s famous book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, chronicling her successes and failures in a blog, never imagining how popular it would become.
You seem to be making a career out of making nice girls interesting, can you talk about what that challenge is, and as Julia is not a celebrity, how important was it for you to be faithful to the real woman in creating your character?
I still haven’t met Julie Powell, so I was faithful to my interpretation of her based on meeting her through her book Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, through her blogs and through Nora, who spent an extensive amount of time with her.
For me, creating a character that was living in the world of our film was really important.
I think that my challenge is maybe making someone not nice, because I didn’t see her as specifically a nice girl, I saw her as very human, very flawed and impatient and, at times, selfish.
But those are things that we all are, so for me it’s just about creating human beings the way that I see them as opposed to creating a caricature of a human being.
What was it about Julia Powell’s character that appealed to you?
It was right after 9/11, she was turning thirty, and she was confused in her life. She’d come to a crossroads, and she was trying to make decisions. That was something I was very familiar with, and I don’t think it’s reflected very often in films in an honest way.
For a more modern woman, there are some very all-encompassing questions, and I thought this character really embodies that journey and that confusion.
How did this movie change your view on cooking?
There was a kitchen on the set, in the studio, and everything was fresh, so we were really spoiled with some amazing food. But for me it’s taught me a little bit more about the meditative effects of cooking and not just how to put a meal together, but really enjoying the process of cooking for friends and family.
After working with Meryl on Doubt, in this film it’s a non-working relationship – was that a disappointment for you and did you ever get to watch her work as Julia Child?
It’s Meryl, so you know it’s going to be fantastic. When we sat down for the table read we were told that it was going to be really informal, just a couple of people, it wasn’t, there were 50 or 75 people in the room.
In walks Meryl, she had just come from a wig fitting and she’s in Julia Child’s wig, and even after working with her and experiencing her brilliance and her work ethic.
To see what she brought to the role of Julia Child’s in that table read, that was something I definitely had in my mind when we were working. She’s awesome.
You and Chris Messina are playing a happily married couple, which some people might find boring – what was it that interested you in playing the role and how did you make it more dynamic?
There was a lot of conflict I thought. It’s odd that we live in a society that what I see as a completely normal couple seems like an idealistically happy couple. That’s so sad.
They fight and they have disagreements, he walks out because she being selfish, there’s a lot that happens that I think is really dynamic and what is being commented on, and we don’t see in films a lot, is a wonderful actor who showed up to support a female, playing a man supporting a woman in her pursuit.
I think that’s what people are saying is ideal, and hopefully men will go see this movie and be like, ‘Wow, that’s something to aspire to.’
Something we all hope for as women I think is to have that kind of support.