All of this work, of course, hasn’t left much time for a personal life. Adams and Le Gallo, who met in an acting class in 2001, have yet to plan their wedding, though they’ve been engaged for the better part of a year. “I have a reputation as a poor planner,” she says, “so expectations are pretty low. When I have people to my house for dinner and tell them it’s casual, they think that means don’t wear high heels, but I mean, ‘You’ll be getting your own forks out of the drawer.’” That house—a Forties Cape Cod that the couple moved into last December—remains largely undecorated. Before she takes off again in March, to Ireland, where she’ll spend two and a half months filming a romantic comedy called Leap Year with Matthew Goode, Adams intends “to at least buy some throw pillows and a bedspread!”
Still, she insists, her hectic schedule has done little to diminish her relationship with Le Gallo, even though his own career hasn’t exactly kept pace with hers. The pair try not to spend more than two weeks apart, and when he visits her on location, she says, “there’s that amazing feeling of getting to know each other again. I think it’s really unique to this experience that we’ve been living, and Darren embraces that, which I’m very grateful for. He’s been great. He’s not perfect, but he’s great.”
Oscar season was particularly intense for Adams this year, thanks to the nomination for her role as Sister James in Doubt. “When I read the [script], it was this gut feeling of, I have to do this,” says Adams, who flew to New York on a day’s notice to meet with Doubt writer and director John Patrick Shanley, telling him that she just happened to be in the city anyway. “I’m not cool. I can’t pretend I don’t want something in order to get it.”
Shanley, as it turned out, didn’t need much convincing when it came to casting Adams. “She has this tone of a true believer but then a substance of skepticism, and that dichotomy was very attractive to me. I wanted an active mind under a patina of innocence,” Shanley says. “And then what I didn’t know is that she also has this sort of Unsinkable Molly Brown quality. If she saw a flagging of momentum or enthusiasm with the crew, she’d grab a microphone and sing a World War I song. She’ll do whatever it takes.”
“Innocence” and “pluck” are two words applied frequently to the women Adams portrays. Her most successful characters—from Giselle and Sister James to Rose Lorkowski, the hapless founder of a crime-scene janitorial company in the recent Sunshine Cleaning—share a certain wide-eyed belief that, despite evidence to the contrary, the world is somehow conspiring in their favor. Adams, for her part, sees these stories as less about naïveté than about faith. “People always say, ‘Oh, your characters are so innocent and sweet,’” she says, “when actually it’s that they’re struggling with faith, maybe realizing that their way of thinking is not the only way.” And as someone whose own faith was pulled out from under her at age 12, Adams can certainly relate. “It was confusing in sort of an earth-shattering way,” she says of the double whammy of her parents’ divorce from each other and from the Mormon church.