Published: July 18, 2015
The Southpaw star plays an addicted cop in the HBO crime saga. What are her real-life vices?
The character Rachel McAdams plays in the hit American crime series True Detective is complicated, to say the least. Detective Ani Bezzerides was raised by a New Age guru, her mother committed suicide when Ani was a child, and as an adult she drinks heavily, is drawn to gambling and pornography and is prone to treating her lovers like dirt. In fact, the role is so demanding that at one point it made McAdams physically sick.
After this week’s episode’s epic, bloody shoot-out called for her to run for 200 yards, reloading her gun as she went, the actress found herself throwing up. “It was probably my own fault because I’d been drinking an energy drink,” she says. “But it was really fun.”
In contrast to the tough characters she often plays on screen, the 36-year-old Canadian is talkative and easy company – yet she clearly has a great deal of affection for her prickly True Detective character. “I’m really proud of Ani,” says McAdams. “She feels good in her own skin and is comfortable with who she is. I think she holds the world up to a very high standard but the standards that she holds herself to are even higher. She can never live up to her expectations.”
For her new film, Southpaw, McAdams immersed herself in the world of boxing, going to fights and working with an ex-fighter for her role as the wife of boxing champion Billy Hope, played by a bulked-up Jake Gyllenhaal. “It was important to understand the sport, like a real-life wife would have done,” she says.
McAdams has been in almost constant demand since her film breakthrough playing a bitchy teen queen in 2004’s Mean Girls. Since then she has made 25 films, many of them huge hits, including the sentimental romance The Notebook, the comedy Wedding Crashers, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and the two Guy Ritchie-directed Sherlock Holmes films in which she co-starred with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.
But her films during the past two years have been less successful: Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder and Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy Aloha both disappointed at the American box office.
“It’s always disappointing when your work is not received as you hope it would be,” she says, clearly frustrated by the failure of Aloha, which is released in the UK in September. “I’m such a big fan of Cameron’s and I think he brought a lot of love to the project. But I’ll be interested to see how the movie’s received as time goes on. I feel like the verdict is still out.”
Born in London, Ontario, and raised in the nearby town of St Thomas, McAdams started acting at the age of 10, appearing in Shakespeare productions with a local theatre group. “I’m from a very close-knit family and there was something very… I guess you could say normal, about it, and I so appreciate that,” she says. “We all ate dinner together every single night and my mom stayed at home with us. I owe a lot to my parents.”
She entered the drama programme at Toronto’s York University and appeared in student films before starring in several soapy TV movies-of-the-week. McAdams came to the attention of worldwide audiences with the Hollywood comedies The Hot Chick and Mean Girls, and while filming the romantic drama The Notebook she began an off-screen romance with her co-star Ryan Gosling. Coincidentally, Gosling was also born and brought up in London, Ontario, although they did not know each other. Their romance ended after three years, although they have remained friends.
More recently, she dated the actor Josh Lucas and, since then, Michael Sheen, with whom she co-starred in Midnight in Paris. She has since been linked with Gyllenhaal, a rumour which makes her laugh, and she has been out with her True Detective co-star Taylor Kitsch.
Although she’s currently single, McAdams says she’s a romantic at heart. “I like the simple things, like taking the time to relax together,” she says. “It’s fun to have wild adventures but I think lying on a couch with each other and watching a movie is very romantic.”
Unusually for a Hollywood star, she still lives in Toronto for most of the year, in a house she shares with her brother. She has no money worries (her estimated net worth is £10 million) but confesses she still watches every penny. “My parents opened a bank account for me when I was really little and I think I paid for some of my university education with my savings,” she recalls. “I’ve always been a bit of a saver.”
As for vices, the woman currently struggling with addiction on our television screens says she has just one: tea. McAdams is obsessed with the stuff, having grown up in a family where strong tea was poured at least three times a day. Recently, she was told by a doctor to switch to decaffeinated. “I was devastated,” she laughs.
Southpaw is released on July 24. True Detective continues on Sky Atlantic
© 2015 Telegraph UK | Written by John Hiscock | No copyright infringment intended.