The Cinema Source
Published: April 20, 2009
Rachel McAdams is clearly out to show audiences that she is an actress on her own crystal clear path and so far, that clear path has been very good to her. Her career first began with her role as queen bee Regina George in the 2004 comedy hit Mean Girls and she made her breakthrough in drama as Allie Hamilton in the now-beloved adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks’ novel The Notebook.
It’s continued with wide-ranging roles in films like the comedy Wedding Crashers, the thriller Red Eye, the comedy-drama The Family Stone, and the indie drama Married Life. Now the 30 year-old Canadian prepares to widen her palette even further with her latest film, the political thriller State Of Play.
McAdams first discussed with us how she came to be involved with the film and her thoughts on its director Kevin McDonald, who directed the Oscar-winning The Last King of Scotland.
“Kevin and I had a conversation about it and talked about Della a little bit and would I be right for it and just heard his take on it,” she recalls, “It just started with a conversation and went from there.”
“I had seen Last King Of Scotland,” Rachel adds, “I thought it was great. I just really enjoyed Kevin. He’s one of the nicest men I have ever met and he was so calm and so collected. This was a big ship to steer in many different ways. I think he did it with such grace and he was really calm and soothing to be around, which is not always the case when you got that much pressure on you. He just was really outstanding under pressure.”
State Of Play is adapted from the critically-acclaimed BBC series. We asked McAdams if she had been familiar with the original material at all and her perspective on adapting foreign material into a Hollywood film.
“Yeah, I did see it. It was great,” she replies, “I had seen that before I went working on the film. I just thought it was so fantastic and was curious as to how Kevin was going to adapt it. And it’s such relevant subject matter. You kind of can’t go wrong.”
“I don’t know,” Rachel continues, “I guess you kind of make it your own. The script was so different from the original series. It was kind of just a whole new animal. I think they’re quite different.”
Co-starring with Rachel are Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren. She says sharing the bill with so many talented performers was often daunting for her, but also proved to be an opportune in learning to perfect her own budding skills as an actor from their example.
“Yeah, I’m definitely the least experienced of everyone in that film, so I definitely felt like a bit of a fly on the wall sometimes in comparison,” McAdams reveals, “I felt a little nervous to begin with. The scenes of Helen and Russell were great to watch, them go at each other and I kind of sat there and took it all in.”
“They were really inspiring, to watch the way they work,” she continues, “My first meeting was with both Russell and Helen at the same time and I admit I was a little shaky, a little nervous, and I think my hand was even shaking when I shook Russell’s hand (laughing). It was great. They were all really supportive and I was really excited to be there.”
In State Of Play, McAdams plays Della Frye, a blogger-turned budding political reporter tags along with her veteran mentor Cal McAffey, played by Russell Crowe, on a murder investigation linked to a prominent Congressman, played by Ben Affleck, often clashing with one another on approach.
“Well, she and Cal sort of meet at the middle,” Rachel explains, “I think she realizes that it’s hard to be objective and be a great reporter. I think she realizes that things aren’t so straightforward and it’s hard to have a sexy story and tell the truth. Yeah, I think she comes to realize that things aren’t so cut and dry and that it’s kind of a tough gig, especially when you get out from behind your computer and no spell-check.”
McAdams said her working relationship with Crowe, an actor often reportedly known being difficult and temperamental, proved key to the sparks generated by Della and Cal in the film.
“We got along really well,” Rachel says, “We really kind of hit it off, so it kind of developed naturally. We had a bit of a disagreement our first meeting (laughing), which was true to our characters, so it was kind of perfect. We both had opposing viewpoints and were very stubborn and wouldn’t relent.”
“It was about giving the photographs to the police or something. I can’t remember who said what,” she continues, “We were having an argument over something we were going to have an argument about, so we fell into it quite naturally and we became friends and I really enjoyed working with him, so it kind of just happened that way.”
Rachel says the idea of turning from being the one often reported on to being the report proved to be quite intriguing for her in learning about the profession.
“That was fun, actually,” she recalls, “I was shadowing journalists a bit. We were introduced to some people at The Washington Post and it was funny because they were tricky. They would turn the questions around and I’d have to keep saying, no, this isn’t about me, this is about you (laughing). So, it was funny, that’s their job and they kind of are doing it 24/7.”
“We kind of went all over,” McAdams adds, “They sort of took us all over. I met people who worked online. I met young people and people who have been doing it forever. There is a difference. There’s a real shift, so it was interesting. They were on opposite ends of the building.”
McAdams also said she got plenty of research for her role by going to Capitol Hill and meeting actual Congressmen in the Senate.
“We spent some time on Capitol Hill as well,” Rachel says, “There was this guy there, he was great, he had been in that world as well I think for probably his whole life. He kind of took me around and introduced me to some of the politicians and took me to press conferences and did that with congressmen and got me into that side of the thing as well. It was so valuable actually, shooting in Washington in itself, at a time when there’s all this election fever. It was great. It was great education.”
However, we were surprised to learn of McAdams’ actual lack of computer savvy when we asked her whether or not she reads blogs.
“No, I don’t,” Rachel replies, ” I listen to the news on the radio. I don’t have a television and I’m really bad at e-mails. I’ve had to get better with computers in general. They are tired of my phone calls. How do I cut and paste? (Laughing). It’s been a great education actually.”
“I think it’s important to stay with the times and keep up with that stuff,” she continues, “It’s changing, whether you want it to or not. There’s great advantages to technology. I don’t Twitter. I’m not a ‘twitterer’ or ‘tweeter’ or anything like that. Only today I’ve learned about Twitter. I’ve been completely educated. Only today, I heard about Twitter for the first time. And it’s all I’ve heard about ever since. I know. I’m really ignorant.”
Rachel got even more noticeably embarrassed with us when she admitted she doesn’t even subscribe to any newspapers.
“No, I don’t subscribe to the newspaper, no,” McAdams laughs, “I really do listen to the radio. I listen to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and NPR. I find it’s something you can multitask to, eat your breakfast, drive, and get where you are going and get your news at the same time.”
However, despite her admitted lack of computer experience, McAdams does, in fact, actually have her own blog that she made us aware of.
“Well, I actually do write a little blog with two of my friends, which is called Green Is Sexy, so I get a lot of practice,” McAdams says, “We have a tip that changes everyday and we spot people and places, so that’s sort of where I get some practice. I do this under my name. Yep. It’s greenissexy.org Just the color, very Irish. If you go to greenissexy.com, you get a very different story. We were just talking one day, a good friend of mine, and we realized that both of us had a real passion for it and wanted to do something.”
“We have a friend that’s a real computer whiz,” she continues, “We just thought this was something with a low footprint that we could all do from whatever city we were in. One of the greatest things about the Internet is that you can be part of this community and you can find people who really care about the things that you care about so quickly. It’s so efficient in bringing people and information together, so, yeah, it was kind of born from there. We’ve been doing it for about two years.”
Despite using the greenissexy.com blog as her forum for environmental issues, McAdams says she draws a very fine line between her private and public life.
“Yeah, it’s sort of a Catch 22,” she says, “You sort of want to bring awareness to what you’re doing and that’s sort of how that world works and you also want your privacy. It’s hard to balance those two things and walk that line.”
Despite keeping a lower profile the past few years, Rachel says she has plenty of movies lined up. First is the long-delayed The Time-Traveler’s Wife, set for release August 14th of this year. She explained to us the rather odd reason for the delay.
“We wound up doing a reshoot,” McAdams explains, Eric [Bana]was the holdup. “That’s right. He had to shave his head for a different role for Star Trek, I think. And so, we were waiting on Eric’s hair (chuckles).”
Second is an even bigger film, a new Hollywood adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic book series Sherlock Holmes, set for release this Christmas. McAdams gave us some insight into how much of a big deal this new Sherlock Holmes film really was.
“It’s pretty big,” she says, “I didn’t really realize how big it was until I stepped on the sets and they were massive. It’s in true Guy Ritchie fashion, too, it’s lots of fighting and explosions. From what I’ve seen, obviously, Robert Downey, Jr. is an amazing actor, so is Jude Law and they make a wonderful duo.”
“I think some people are skeptical about, everybody has their preconceived notions about Watson in particular,” Rachel continues, “They are like, Watson is supposed to be like this, and anyway, I just think that Jude is a perfect Watson oddly enough. That’s kind of the love story, actually. I play supposedly Sherlock’s love interest, but it’s really Watson.”
We also asked Rachel on what her expectations were for this new Sherlock Holmes.
“Well, I didn’t know what to expect, actually,” McAdams admits, “I didn’t know. I didn’t know if it would be kind of a satire of Sherlock Holmes in some ways or whether or not they wanted to boost up the comedy and it’s a really nice balance of the two. It’s quite serious and heart-pumping and at the same time, there’s humor and these light moments, too. I’ve seen a little sizzle reel of it and it looks beautiful.”
As for what’s to come next from Rachel McAdams, she says she undoubtedly has more movies in the works. She says that the one thing that’s for certain is McAdams isn’t letting any concerns like scheduling conflicts hold her back.
“Who knows?” Rachel says, “Yeah. It’s going to be busy, that’s for sure. It’s already busy. I don’t know. It’s exciting. I’m glad everything’s coming out and not coming out on top of each other. I’m just excited. All the films are very different, which is great. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. They always find a way to balance the two. They always find a way of grabbin’ ya, even when you’re working. “