Emanuel Levy: Rachel McAdams Red Eye Interview

Emanuel Levy
Published: August, 2005

Rachel was the only actress we met with. She has a wonderful quality. She’s very beautiful, but at the same time very accessible.”
–Producer Marianne Maddalena

I had seen Rachel in The Notebook and Mean Girls, and knew she was an actor of enormous range and great charisma, not to mention a fantastic beauty. Working with her was an enormous pleasure.”
–Director Wes Craven

One of today’s fastest rising leading ladies, Rachel McAdams is currently starring in two of the summer’s hottest movies: the R-rated comedy “The Wedding Crashers,” with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and in Wes Craven’s thriller, “Red Eye,” opposite Cillian Murphy.

Later this year (in November), McAdams will star in the holiday comedy, “The Family Stone,” joining an ensemble cast that also includes Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, and Luke Wilson.

In the edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, “Red Eye,” McAdams plays Lisa Reisert, a young businesswoman who appears to be in control of her job, but she starts to reveal a terrible secret that makes her especially vulnerable to what’s happening to her on that airplane. She tries to hide it, but the man in the next seat, Jackson (Cillian Murphy) is an astute judge of character, a shrewd man who executes all of his jobs without any moral repercussions. Most of the ride takes place within the confines of a plane at 30,000 feet.

On the Film
The close-quartered interplay between Lisa and Jackson was what immediately drew me to the project. The psychological mind play between these two characters in that confined space was the element I was most attracted to in the script.

On Acting Challenge
It struck me as an incredible acting challenge to have to sit in one spot and be held hostage without letting anyone else know what is going on. It’s a pretty dire situation: her father’s life is at stake, her life is at stake, and if she helps Jackson carry out his plot, she is as much a murderer as he is. She has to think her way through this incredible scenario and figure out a way to save the people she loves and herself.

On Her Character
My character’s arc was very interesting to me—where Lisa starts and where she ends are two very different places, and the journey in-between is quite gripping. When we first meet Lisa, the only think on her mind is work. She is focused on one aspect of her life right now, which is her job. Because of the nature of her work in the hotel world, Lisa is a troubleshooter and very resourceful; she used to handling all kinds of problems.

But in her personal life, she’s a little closed off, a little suspicious of intimacy. She is dealing with the death of her grandmother, who was kind of her mentor, and there are problems in her past that she’s still trying to come to grips with. She has cut herself off from the world a little bit; she’s cast her personal relationships and even her relationship with her father aside, and her work has become her life.

On Director Wes Craven
When you have two people in one space for such a long period of time, you really have to heighten the drama. Wes can find moments—a look here, a glance there, that as an actor, you wouldn’t necessarily think are adding to the suspense. But when you get to know him, you can see his wheels turning and you know he’s using all those looks and glances to create a more intense scene.

On Co-star Cillian Murphy
There’s a similar juxtaposition between Cillian and his role. At first glance, you wouldn’t think Cillian would make a good Jackson because he’s so nice and cheerful and accommodating, but when the camera is on, he can really turn on a dime. He was very intense and focused, which was exhilarating, and a little frightening, too. He was so great to work with.

McAdams’ Short but Impressive Resume
Born in Canada, McAdams was raised in a small town just outside of Toronto. She graduated with honor with a BFA degree in Theater from York University, where she performed in numerous student films and stage productions.

McAdams began her professional acting career in Canada, and made her screen debut in “My Name is Tanino,” directed by Paolo Virzi, which premiered at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. She also co-starred in “Perfect Pie,” for which she won a Genie Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

The following year, she won a Gemini Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, for her work on the Canadian TV series, “Slings and Arrows.” She first came to the attention of American audiences with her role in the outrageous comedy, “The Hot Chick,” in which she starred with Rob Schneider.

Her breakthrough year was 2004, in which she starred in back-to-back hit films, beginning with Mark Waters’ comedy smash, “Mean Girls,” written by Tina Fey. McAdams played Regina, the beautiful leader of a high school girls’ clique, who goes to war with the new girl in town, played by Lindsay Lohan.

Immediately following “Mean Girls,” McAdams took a dramatic turn in the romantic film, “The Notebook,” starring alongside Ryan Gosling, Sam Shepard, Joan Allen, Gena Rowlands, and James Garner, under the direction of Nick Cassavetes. McAdams captured the hearts of audiences and won critical acclaim for her performance as a young girl forced to give up the love of her life under pressure from her cruel, class-conscious mother (Joan Allen).

As a result of both “Mean Girls” and “The Notebook,” McAdams was named the Supporting Actress of the Year at the 2005 ShoWest Convention. She also won three MTV Movie Awards in the categories of Breakthrough Female; Best On-Screen Team, shared with her “Mean Girls” cast mates; and Best Kiss, shared with Ryan Gosling, for “The Notebook.”

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