Early life and career
Adams was born in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her father was a lumber yard owner. She moved to Hollywood in 1988.
She began her film career in 1977 with a small part in Exorcist II: The Heretic. But it wasn't until 1993 that Adams' breakthrough role came, in Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, a film which also starred Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey. That same year, she appeared in Bio Dome as Pauly Shore's environmentally-conscious girlfriend; and in Coneheads, as a boisterous teen gal pal of Connie Conehead. She was in the film Mallrats, her first movie directed by Kevin Smith. She then received her first lead role, in Smith's 1997 film Chasing Amy, opposite Ben Affleck. Adams received a great deal of attention for her portrayal of Alyssa Jones, a lesbian who falls for a man (Affleck). Smith wrote as well as directed the film, which was largely inspired by his relationship with Adams herself.
Adams' performance in "Amy" earned her both the 1997 Chicago Film Critics Award and Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for "Most Promising Actress," and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical. Adams also contributed the song "Alive" to the soundtrack of Chasing Amy, writing it and performing it in one of the scenes of the film. She also appeared briefly in Smith's 2001 work, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, reprising the role of Alyssa Jones. Later, she reprised the role, in voice form only, for Clerks: The Lost Scene, featured on the Clerks X DVD.
After having the female lead in the successful 1999 Adam Sandler film, Big Daddy, she would go on to appear in many smaller films, including A Cool, Dry Place, Beautiful and In the Shadows.
Some speculation has been made that her unusual speaking voice hampered her chances of Hollywood stardom, to which she has commented: "It's not a normal voice. It doesn't fit into people's preconceptions about what a woman's voice should sound like. My mom doesn't think I have an unusual voice, though. I'm sure it's helped me get some roles. But 'Chasing Amy' I almost didn't get. There was concern the voice would grate on some people, which some critics said it did."
In 2005, she had a guest role in an episode of TV show Veronica Mars. During 2006, Adams released her directorial debut, Come Early Morning, starring Ashley Judd, Jeffrey Donovan, Diane Ladd, Tim Blake Nelson and Laura Prepon. The film, shot on location in Little Rock and North Little Rock, was selected for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
Adams shares her hometown with another Hollywood actress, Mary Steenburgen. Currently, she resides in Oxford, Mississippi.
In a 1997 article by planetout.com, she is reported to have said, "I'm bisexual, and I realized that when I went to Bali where the culture there is very bisexual, and it is the first time I was very attracted to women. I have a lot of friends who are [that way]; in fact, most". More recently, in a 2006 interview with suicidegirls.com, she stated, "I’m not bisexual but I’ve seen on the internet that it says that. It’s a rumor."
As actress, except as noted:
- Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
- Coneheads (1993)
- Dazed and Confused (1993)
- The Program (1993)
- The Pros & Cons of Breathing]] (1994)
- Sleep with Me]] (1994)
- S.F.W.]] (1994)
- Mallrats (1995)
- Drawing Flies (1996)
- Bio-Dome (1996)
- Michael (1996)
- Chasing Amy (1997) (also composer of song "Alive" featured in the film)
- A Cool, Dry Place (1998)
- Emergency Room 2 (1999)
- Big Daddy (1999)
- Bruno (2000) (released on video re-titled as Dress Code)
- Beautiful (2000)
- Harvard Man (2001)
- Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) (voice)
- Reaching Normal (2001)
- In the Shadows (2001)
- Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) (cameo)
- Grand Champion (2002)
- Beeper (2002)
- The Big Empty (2003)
- The Gunman (2004)
- Clerks: The Lost Scene (2004) (voice only)
- Love, Fear and Rabbits (2006)
- The Break-Up (2006)
- Come Early Morning (2006) (writer, director only)
- Trucker (2008)
- Married With Children (1987-1997)(1993) (cameo in Season 7)
- Top of the Heap]] (1991)
- Second Noah (1996-1997) as Darby
- Veronica Mars (2006) (guest appearance)