Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry. Adams sang in the school choir at Douglas County High School and was an apprentice dancer at a local dance company, with the ambition of becoming a ballerina. However, she worked as a greeter at The Gap and as a Hooters hostess to support herself before finding work as a dancer at Boulders Dinner Theatre and Country Dinner Playhouse in such productions as Brigadoon and A Chorus Line. It was there that she was spotted by a Minneapolis dinner-theater director who asked her to move to Chanhassen, Minnesota for more regional dinner theater work. Nursing a pulled muscle that kept her from dancing, she was free to audition for a part in Belles à mourir (1999), which was filming nearby in Minnesota. During the filming, Kirstie Alley encouraged her to move to Los Angeles, where she soon won a part in the Fox television version of the film, Cruel Intentions (1999), in the part played in the film by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kathryn Merteuil. Although three episodes were filmed, the troubled series never aired. Instead, parts of the episodes were cobbled together and released as the direct-to-video Cruel Intentions 2 (2000). After more failed television spots, she landed a major role in Catch Me If You Can (2002), playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.