Rachel McAdams is clearly a chameleon when it comes to her work. As the quintessential queen bee in Mean Girls, the actress made us cringe. As southern belle Allie in The Notebook, she made us swoon over her love with Noah. As Becky Fuller in Morning Glory, she made us root for her fledgling profession as a TV producer.
But, in a career that now spans more than a decade, McAdams — as versatile as she is — seems undeniably drawn to a very specific, unique type of film: the time travel movie.
The actress played the female lead in both The Time Traveler's Wife and Midnight in Paris, and now, in her most recently wrapped endeavor, is co-starring in director Richard Curtis' film revolving around the same subject, About Time.
"It's weird, I admit it," McAdams says, laughing. "I don't know what it's all about — must be something in my subconscious." But it was more than McAdams' subconscious that steered her toward the role in About Time.
Her heart is also to blame.
When she was sent the script, McAdams fell in love. "I felt like I was completely swept away in the emotion of it," the actress asserts. "It's one of those movies that makes you want to reach out to people in your life. It makes you stop and appreciate the little things, which are actually the big things."
So, even though she would once again be playing not the time traveler but, rather, the woman left behind by one, she jumped at the opportunity to work with Curtis on what is rumored to be his last film before retirement.
And, in the process, she learned some invaluable lessons about life — courtesy of the movie's live-in-the moment sentimentality. "It's this idea," she elaborates, "that if you could go back and change it, would you really? And sort of embracing the messiness of life and the so-called mistakes that are in it... and maybe they lead you into something greater and they develop you as a person and develop your relationship." It's a new approach, she says, to handling life's little curve balls.
Retrospectively, though, the actress jokes that there are absolutely a few "so-called mistakes" she'd erase if she could. Namely, paragliding! "I would take that one back," she states and, even though she laughs as she says it, we can tell she's serious.
"I obviously survived — barely," she explains, dragging out the word "barely" for emphasis before continuing, "I didn't enjoy one second of it, and I kept telling myself, 'Enjoy this! You're never going to do this again. You're over the Alps!’ It was, in theory, amazing. But, way too scary."
But hey, at least she got to check it off her bucket list, which recently got even shorter. "Hawaii was, like, at the top of my list forever," McAdams says of having never been to the Aloha State before, "and now I get to live there for three months."
Her reason for holing up in Hawaii is an as-of-yet untitled Cameron Crowe project, which — poor girl — she's shooting alongside Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. Of having to set up camp in the lush locale with the A-list cast, McAdams charmingly deadpans, "It's tough, I'm struggling. But I'll make it somehow."
She calls the film "quite quirky," sharing that Stone plays a woman in the military and Cooper plays an ex-military man. As for McAdams, she plays a woman who recovers and brings home the bones of soldiers lost in various wars. "I didn't know that job actually existed, but it's only in the American government in all of the world where they actually bring all their soldiers home," she proudly muses, adding, "no matter how long ago or when they went missing."
Although filming in Hawaii is a first for McAdams, filming alongside Cooper isn't. "I think it's been, like, ten years ago now that we did Wedding Crashers together, so it's nice to have a reunion and have that rapport already," she says.
Does that mean she'd be open to reprising her role as Claire Cleary for a follow-up to the hilarious 2005 film? "In a heartbeat — yeah, I would. It's actually one of the movies I've had the most fun on," she declares, citing a "great cast" and "great energy" on set.
When asked how life has changed since she hit it big on the heels of The Notebook, Wedding Crashers and a string of other super-successful movies in 2004 and 2005, McAdams answers with modesty — a trait that has basically become a trademark.
"I feel like I learn so much on every film," she says. "It's a steep learning curve, and I've been so fortunate to work with some of the greatest actors in the world, and makeup artists and hairstylists… so yeah, I don't know if I could pick out one thing, but it's been a real education."
The down-to-Earth actress does, however, cop to taking advantage of one perk of the job in particular. "I love the traveling," she enthuses. "It's just nice to get to dip your toes in those waters, but then go home at the end of the day."
As for the most uncomfortable part of being one of Hollywood's most sought-after actresses, well… beauty is pain. "These shoes! I mean, they're a blessing and a curse," McAdams laughs. "They're so, you know, lovely — but, yeah, give me a ballet flat."
Between an outdoorsy Canadian upbringing and time spent with a friend who worked at an organic cafe, McAdams developed a passion for environmentalism. "I like the planet," she remarks. "It's my favorite place to be."
After accidentally pouring orange juice mix into the wiring of the machine one day, "it started smoking and short-circuiting, and no one could have orange juice that morning," she remembers. "The customers were up in arms."
Of the unique pastime she had before acting, McAdams harbors no delusions of sophistication. "I definitely was in the sequined, bedazzled era," she told Glamour magazine. "We would put blue eyeshadow up our eyebrows, and glitter all over our faces."
The laid-back actress gets bonus cool points here, since (a) she's close enough to her younger bro, Daniel, to let him be her roomie and (b) she still lives in the Harbord Village home in Toronto that she bought following the success of Mean Girls.
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