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Amy Adams On 'The Master' & Why It's Not About Scientology (Or Maybe It Is)

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Amy Adams has received three Oscar nominations in her career thus far, but she gives what is arguably her greatest performance in "The Master." That might surprise you, if only because the buzz around Paul Thomas Anderson's new film has focused squarely on Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, and not Adams.

In "The Master," Adams plays Peggy Dodd, the wife of Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) -- a man Anderson said he based, in part, on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, even though everyone associated with the film has shied away from that comparison publicly.

HuffPost Entertainment chatted with Adams at the Toronto International Film Festival about why "The Master" is not at all about Scientology (a claim Adams can barely repeat with a straight face) and how age has affected her career.

It's nice to meet you.
I'm on a current Internet ban, but I do love your guys' website.

Internet ban? Why do you have an Internet ban?
It gives me a stomachache. I don't need ‑‑ there's too much information ...

I've heard "headache" a lot. I've never heard "stomachache." That's a new one.
I think it's just, you know, I try not to read anything about myself. But, if I'm online, sometimes, I stumble across.

It's hard to stay off the Internet.
Yeah, I mean except for e-mail. And so, I kind of get my Yahoo! news, for whatever that's worth.

Getting off the Internet is a good thing.
It is. But when I was on it, I do like your guys' site a lot.

Well, that's nice of you to say. You are very good in "The Master," by the way.
Thank you very much.

And I had heard that. It's nice when reality exceeds the expectations.
You know what? I can say that about the making of the film, too.

I could imagine there are a lot of expectations to being in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie.
It was more than I thought it was going to be, because he actually has a really great sense of humor. He's terribly honest. I thought it was going to be very, this sort of, intangible, intellectual experience. Instead, I got something that was so human and multi-leveled.

In what way?
I'm so bad at specifics. I'm really great at blanket statements, so if we could just all make blanket statements ... [laughs]. I've kind of got my five things I'm going to say. No, I'm joking. Would you like a strawberry?

Okay, sure. Why not?
These are pretty good. Take as many as you'd like. Like, fresh fruit in the middle of this whole thing?

It's very nice of you. Thank you.
Now, I can't eat all of them -- so, please, share.

Blanket statements are fun. For any movie, you could say something like "uneven at times, yet resonates." You know? Boom. There you go.
People are like, "Oh, yeah."

"Yeah, that's pretty deep, yeah."
"Oh, yeah."

I will say not many people could have pulled off "The Muppets" and "The Master" in one year. That's impressive.
Cheers. Thank you. Not many people get that opportunity, so I'm happy that these opportunities are presented for me to challenge myself with.

In December of 2009 it was reported that Paul Thomas Anderson was going to make a movie about Scientology. Were you like the rest of us thinking, Boy, can't wait to see that?
Nope. Never heard anything about it.

Really?
Nope, nope.

Oh, that's right, you don't read the Internet.
Well, I was probably reading it then, but I was probably ‑‑ I don't know. What was I doing in 2009? That seems like a universe ago.

What were you doing in 2009? "The Fighter"?
Yeah. I was probably pretty self-absorbed, is why. Most likely self-absorbed. That was before children ‑‑ I was pregnant! I got pregnant in 2009!

That trumped Scientology movies rumors.
Yes. I was definitely pregnant.

So how does that work? Did you want this, or did someone contact you?
Someone contacted me. Just the reputation of Paul Thomas Anderson, I was like, "Well whoa, tell me what it is!" It's like, "Do I walk on?" Because I would do that, too.

Because he does so few movies, would you just say "yes" pretty much right away?
Yes. And work with him again in a heartbeat.

Does he explain the symbolism as you're filming? There's so much symbolism in this movie. Do you know it all?
No, I don't. What I enjoyed about the experience of doing the film and then watching the film is that, as an observer, I'm able to take in some of his intention more than I was as a actor. And I think that's the way it should be. If I went in there and I had an intention, it wouldn't be as honest as what Paul requires. You know, his actors.

Like, the party scene, where all of a sudden, everyone's nude. Are you like, "What exactly is going on here?"
I was like, "All right, we're nude!" No, initially, I wasn't written in that. I think I suggested it to the makeup artist. I don't know how it came about. But I was thrown into that scene and I was so happy to be thrown into it. It's such a surreal experience, very unexpected.

There are a lot of women with red hair in this movie.
There are.

What does that mean?
I noticed it -- and then I didn't ask again. But I'm wondering if there's something to that.

There has to be something to that, right?
I guess. I really didn't notice how many women had the same tone of hair until ‑‑ well, I don't know. It was interesting. I don't know what that's about.

It's an interesting movie. But it's hard to do ask questions about it.
No, it's hard to answer questions, because I wish I had a really smart, articulate answer that provided some insight. But I also hate pulling back the curtain. I think sometimes -- who wants to see Oz. You know?

I will say that I thought Scientology aspect of this movie was more prevalent than I expected. The studio is downplaying that ...
Really? Because I think it was completely overplayed in the press. I totally disagree. I do. Because everybody thinks that everyone's being cagey, but, in truth, it's not a film about Scientology. There's no exposé. There's nothing we're doing or saying that you couldn't read about anywhere.

But it is interesting that the way it's presented in this movie. A viewer can almost see why someone would be interested in that.
Sure. I think that at least The Cause -- which is not Scientology -- The Cause, very much, in its core, like most religions, is about self-improvement. It's about removing negative programming and heading out into the world as your best self.

But, no matter how it's described now, it was originally reported as a Scientology movie. Did you worry about alienating any friends that you have who are Scientologists? If you have any, I have no idea how this works.
No, no, no. I mean, I played religious before in "Junebug" and in "Doubt."

As an actor, I guess there would be no difference, right?
Yeah. If this were about Scientology, which it's not [laughs]. No, I love it. It's just so funny to talk about it as much as we have, because the more that, you know ... anyway. It's funny. Eat some more strawberries.

So, I'm doing research before the interview today and I noticed your birth date. You were born two months after me, but I always forget that we're the same age. I think of you as much younger. Does that help as far as roles?
I think of myself as much younger, too.

It seems to allow you to be able to do a lot of different roles: "The Master," "The Muppets" and now "Man of Steel."
You know what? What I really enjoy is that I got a late start as far as having the opportunities. So, I'm just glad that I'm able to take advantage of this time with the roles that have been offered to me and that people are willing to see me as not a number, but as how I play with people and how ... because I play different age range. And I look forward to actually playing my age one day.

Do you feel you haven't done that?
No, I haven't.

Will Lois Lane be 38?
Say it again.

Well, I'm 38, too, so ...
No, no, no. I'm a truth teller. I remember when I first came out with my age, someone had told me to lie.

If that was rude to say out loud ...
No. Gosh, no, no, no. I'm very honest about it. This is what I said, and I say it now. When someone had told me to lie, a long time ago, before the Internet was ‑‑ thank goodness I didn't, because I would be exposed as a huge liar. If you can tell me what year of my life to get rid of ... you go through my life and you tell me what year doesn't count, and I'll lie about my age. I'll take it away. But every year of my life means something. And, so, I'm not going to lie.

Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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