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The kind of girl who breaks into a song about the nature of true love in the middle of Central Park, and tells a toothless tramp, ‘You have a lovely smile’, Giselle could so easily be irritating (especially to anyone over the age of 10 in the audience), a cutesy caricature in too much sparkly tulle. “Hihowyoudoin’…” This burst of conversation would come at you.’ ‘She’s filled with joy – I didn’t have to do any work to direct her,’ Enchanted’s director Kevin Lima has commented of his leading lady, who also performs the effervescent Menken and Schwartz songs throughout the film.
But in Adams’s hands she is disarming, her journey from a 2D animated character in the film’s first minutes to one who feels three-dimensional emotions – anger, attraction – is genuinely engaging. ‘I just love playing characters who are unabashedly, persistently cheerful,’ Adams says, sounding a little Giselle herself.
The film is a brilliantly absurd and affectionate distillate of every fairy tale Disney has told, featuring talking animals, a square-jawed handsome prince (James Marsden), a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon) and her devoted henchman (Timothy Spall), and, less conventionally, a single-dad divorce lawyer (Patrick Dempsey).
‘It’s so much fun.’ Adams’s growing reputation is built on her skill at playing endearing innocents.
Her best supporting actress nomination was for her funny and tender portrayal of Ashley, a heavily pregnant young woman living with her monosyllabic husband and parents-in-law, in the independent film Junebug. Her behaviour is a choice.’Though Adams’s Oscar nomination prompted numerous profile articles introducing this ‘overnight sensation’, she had been making her living in Hollywood since the late 1990s, steadily clocking up guest parts in television series including Smallville and The West Wing, as well as starring as Leonardo Di Caprio’s green young love interest in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me if You Can, an experience ‘that to this day has given me a ton of confidence’.