24 Hours Toronto: Out Of Her Comfort Zone

Toronto 24 Hours
Published: November 2, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Rachel McAdams reveals her top T.O. hangouts — and opens up about her role in Doctor Strange Rachel McAdams had one simple reason for joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Doctor Strange — to knock it off her “bucket list.”

The Oscar-nominated Canadian actress stars opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s surgeon-turned-sorcerer in the studio’s latest superhero film. And she tells Postmedia Network it was a no-brainer.

“So far, they’ve knocked them out of the park,” she says in a downtown Toronto hotel. “Marvel makes really great films and they seem to put a lot of care and attention into them. So, it’s a great thing to be invited to do.”

In the film — the 14th in MCU — McAdams plays Dr. Christine Palmer, the ex-girlfriend and colleague of Doctor Strange.

McAdams and Cumberbatch have had similar careers in film and television, and both share Oscar nods. Doctor Strange marks their first foray into the big budget superhero genre.

“He’s like our last everyman,” McAdams says describing Cumberbatch. “He can do it all, and he’s a renaissance man. He’s challenging as Doctor Strange because he shows us the cracks in the character’s ego and then shows us how his humanity can emerge from those cracks.”

Until the first public screenings last month, McAdams’ role had been shrouded in mystery.

“I was able to say that I was playing a doctor in the film,” she laughs when asked what she told friends and strangers about her part. “I was also allowed to say I was playing the former girlfriend of Doctor Strange. So that was my stock answer.”

Admittedly not an avid reader of comic books, McAdams credits Marvel with creating a fanbase for the characters with its films.

“I think Marvel has educated a lot of people on comics they may not have read and they get to experience them through their films. I didn’t know much about

So to get up to speed, director Scott Derrickson pointed McAdams to a copy of the 2007 limited series

“One of my comic book friends found it and sent it my way. That helped me get acquainted with the character.”

In the comics, Christine Palmer is Night Nurse and in 2004 the character was re-imagined as one who provides medical help to superheroes in need.

McAdams says becoming the Night Nurse was never on her mind.

“I’m an amalgamation of a few characters,” she says. “This character is a bit of an invention, but that took some of the pressure off of having to step into this idea that people would have of her.”

Boasting eye-popping visuals not seen so far in the MCU, McAdams knows that Doctor Strange is going to push the genre. But still, her favourite Marvel film so far stars her Sherlock Holmes co-star Robert Downey Jr.

“I loved Iron Man,” she enthuses. “All the Marvel movies are great, but Iron Man was where it kicked off, so I’m a big fan of Robert Downey’s Iron Man.”

Next up for McAdams — whose busy 2015 included Season 2 of True Detective, the boxing drama Southpaw and an Oscar-nominated role in Spotlight — is Disobedience, an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s lesbian romance opposite Rachel Weisz.

There’s also the possibility of a Mean Girls sequel — if Tina Fey writes one.

Doctor Strange 2 and Avengers: Infinity War are also rumoured, but she can’t say anything about that.

“I want to keep exploring new territory,” McAdams says. “I want to do things I have to stretch for; roles that seem a little out of reach where I’m not quite sure I can pull it off. Then I’m in the right zone. It’s nice to dip into genres that I’ve never been involved with, so Doctor Strange was a nice one for that.”

McAdams’ Guide To Toronto
Rachel McAdams is currently globe-trotting to promote Marvel’s Doctor Strange, but on a sunfilled day in Toronto her mind skips ahead to her plans that night.

She’ll be out with friends.

“I love to eat in this city,” she says excitedly. “You’ve got the best of the best — you’ll never go hungry here.”

The London, Ont.-born actress lives part of the year in Hogtown, namechecking The Beguiling as one of the comic book stores she visited when boning up for her role opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the superhero film.

“When I have friends in town, I often will go down to the Evergreen Brick Works,” she tells Postmedia Network. “I love to take that path through the Don Valley and ride my bike or go for a run or walk, and then go to the Cafe Belong, which is great and has amazing food. I like to get a tea and walk around the farmer’s market and go through the nursery. During the fall, especially, I like to hike up the hill there; it’s just such a great view of the Valley. So that’s one of my favourite things to do.

“I used to live in the Annex,” she continues. “It was nice to walk around there and then nearby at Kensington Market on Pedestrian Sundays. Sports is another thing … I should ask you to get some ideas.”

© 2016 Toronto 24 Hours | Written Mark Daniell | No copyright infringment intended.