Amy Adams has the starring role in this ‘Aliens have landed’ sci-fi epic Arrival. She is Dr Louise Banks an expert linguist leading an elite team investigating a mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. Amy is best know for her roles in American Hustle, Man of Steel and Julie & Julia.
In Arrival her character is joined by Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker, The Avengers, The Town), a physicist who deals with communicating with the aliens through mathematics.
Both discover it’s a race against time as the world verges on global war. However it is her that then takes a chance that could threaten her life and possibly humanity.
Amy Adams came to the Toronto Film Festival to talk about her new movie, which opens nationwide on November 11th 2016.
Amy Adams and director, Denis Villeneuve on the set ©2016 Paramount Pictures

What was it about this project that attracted you?

I was at a point where I wasn’t really reading scripts. My wonderful team said, ‘No, no, no. You’re reading this script.’ I read the script and I fell in love with the character. Really the emotional core of this is what drew me to it. Then meeting with Denis (Villeneuve, the movie’s director) and knowing that he had the same reaction.

Through the sci-fi elements, the political elements, it really is this woman’s story. It’s a story that she’s telling to her daughter and that’s a beautiful thing to me.

Can you talk about portraying Dr Louise Banks?

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. Not purely intellectual. 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.

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) ©2016 Paramount Pictures

What sort of preparation did you do in terms of understanding what linguistics and language is all about?

I had these grand ideas that I was going to know everything about it. Until I realized that it’s actually very scientific and mathematical, anthropological and sociological. There’s a reason that people get doctorates, and that it takes that long because it’s very complicated.

What I was grateful to learn was that linguists aren’t necessarily proficient in many languages. Some of them are very focused on one particular language and becomes a master of the history of that language. That freed me up to not feel like I had to be able to convince (people) that I could speak everything fluently. It’s the difference between understanding the language and speaking the language.

How did Denis help you flesh out Louise?

With Denis, there was this intense connection over the character. He felt very passionate about making her just every woman in a way. And at the end of the day, he would always say this is a woman’s story. No matter what other story we’re telling, the core of this from beginning to end, it has to be (her) story.

When we’re doing all the stuff with the aliens, people are like, ‘All this stuff, did you research it?’ I was like, no, because she’s never been in a room with aliens. She’s never been in a suit like this. This is all new. And so, just going along and being open to the experience was the key thing.

Denis, is the genius behind it. He’s the person who allowed for this creativity to exist. He’s patient, calm, provided us with so much information about what the aliens were going to look like, what we were looking at. He developed this language. Anyway, I could keep going, but it was a great crew and Denis was amazing.

Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and Louise Banks (Amy Adams) ©2016 Paramount Pictures

You and Jeremy have worked together before on American Hustle. Having worked together, did that help boost the chemistry when you guys started working on this?

We work very similarly in the fact that we both do a lot of work outside of set and when we get there, we’re ready to go. Then all of the problem-solving. It’s not big issues. It’s little things in working out blocking and you get to enrich it as opposed to getting to figure it out with somebody.

One of the things I’m so proud of is very often, friendship between a man and a woman isn’t brought to screen without a heavy sexual energy. Really friendship between men and women, and yes sometimes it leads somewhere, and we don’t want to play that hand.

I love the friendship that these two characters developed. I think any great relationship is based on respect and friendship and I’m always happy when that gets to be developed on screen.

Amy Adams at the Toronto International Film Festival Arrival screening at Roy Thomson Hall on September 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada ©2016 Paramount Pictures, photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.