Amy Adams talks about her new role in Vice, and why she chooses such tough parts for herself.

What did you discover about Lynne Cheney through playing this role?

I didn't know a lot about Lynne going into this although I knew what people's opinions were of her. It was a wonderful research journey for me to get to know this character and I found it to be a very American story. Her ancestors were Mormon and she was raised in Caspar, Wyoming. She was very focused, driven, even as a child. She understood that if she was going to get anything, she was going to have to work for it.

This marks the third movie you've starred in with Christian Bale (as well as The Fighter and American Hustle). You obviously have great chemistry. What's the secret with you two?

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We have a lot in common in the sense that we're both really tightly tied to our families. Family is important to both of us. We both work really hard, we commit to our roles when we're on set and we love what we do. So, when we come together, my feeling on working with him is that it doesn't matter who works with Christian, if you allow yourself to participate in his process you will grow. And so I think if I can say anything about it, it's just that I've always felt that he elevates me.

That sounds like an intense experience?

Yeah. There's only been a couple times where as an actress, I'm like, "Whoa! That was a little intense!" And it's been working with Christian where he goes so deep that as an actor working with him, if you allow yourself, you get to go on an amazing journey. And so I've been really fortunate but I can't say that I've ever worked with Christian Bale. It's terrible. He was just Dick Cheney and before that he was the dude in American Hustle, and before that, Dickie from The Fighter. Never Christian. He just makes working so much fun because he's so transformative.

With the help of the #MeToo movement do you think society is evolving?

I hope so. I mean, for my daughter's sake, because she's very outspoken. But it's funny because I find myself having to not tell my daughter to "be a good girl," or "maybe you shouldn't say that". I really have to hold myself back because I was so trained by my mother's generation about how I should be as a woman so I've had to even reprogram myself as a mother. But what's great is that she really does respect my authority position, so I love that. She sees our non-traditional home for what it is and so I think for her it's going to be different when she's older. I hope we are evolved enough to continue to embrace powerful female voices.

How tough are you?

There is a part of me that is an assertive, outspoken woman and I'm comfortable having debates and discussions and my husband is used to that. There's a part of me that's a little tough.

Can you talk a little about the power of movies?

Art sometimes reflects what's happening in society and what I love about good art, whether it be Yugoslavian architecture or Vice, is that I love the conversations that it brings. And I think through conversation change will come.

Anything in particular that has moved you or made a profound impact?

There are so many movies that have changed my perception throughout the years, but at different times. I was going through a hard time in my 20's and didn't have a lot of confidence. Then I watched "The Joy Luck Club." I don't know why that hit me, it really made me value myself in a different way.

How so?

I understood about generational devaluing of oneself and how it can be passed down. Especially being a mum it's one of the movies I can't wait to show her. I think good art can spark conversation. It can spark something inside of you that can create a small change and that small change hopefully leads to a bigger change.

Changing gears – we're at the beginning of the red carpet season!

Oh, thank goodness, we're back to fashion! I never thought I'd be so happy to talk about clothes! What do you want to know? I've been on a diet. No I'm kidding.

What's the most important element in getting red carpet ready?

Honestly, Spanx are my best friend and I'm not ashamed of that. But, in all seriousness, for me it's more of a mental preparation because I'm very shy. Even doing interviews like this one, I start to get hot and I start to babble and shake. So for me, I really have to be mentally prepared because otherwise I get nervous on the red carpet. It's been more than once that I've had to really take a step off to start breathing again.

Some actors pretend to be a character on the carpet.

I've tried it. It's worked a couple times but I feel like it's such a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with designers who are artists in their own right, and so that's the fun of it for me. When I go there, I try to remind myself that I'm representing a film, representing a designer, representing an organisation, and then it takes the pressure off of me thinking about myself. That's my secret!

• Vice is in cinemas from December 26.