The Courier Mail: Rachel McAdams spreading the news in Morning Glory

The Courier Mail
Published: January 10, 2011

RACHEL McAdams lets out a laugh while trying to explain why no Australian leading men were cast in her new comedy, Morning Glory.

The 32-year-old Canadian-born actor has made a habit of working with Australian male A-Listers the past year or so, whether it was playing opposite Russell Crowe in the crime drama State of Play or in the romantic fantasy The Time Traveller’s Wife with Eric Bana.

You would think, considering McAdams’ apparent desire to work with Australian men, Hugh Jackman was a sure bet to star in Morning Glory.

“Yes,” says McAdams, feigning disappointment. “Hugh wasn’t available. He turned me down.”

Plenty of hunky American leading men were available to share screen time with McAdams in Morning Glory, with Harrison Ford, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum part of the cast, which includes Oscar-winner Diane Keaton.

The film is set in the world of American television news, with McAdams playing Becky Fuller, a studious, hard-working producer on a morning program in New Jersey.

The job is Fuller’s life.

“She loves news, loves everything about news and always has,” McAdams explains. “She works on this little, tiny news show in New Jersey and she thinks she is being promoted one day and she has actually been fired and is devastated.”

Suddenly unemployed, Fuller throws herself into the dire, recession-hit job market and has no nibbles until she meets Jerry Barnes (Goldblum), the head of TV network IBS, which airs the low-rating national morning news show Daybreak, shot each weekday morning in Manhattan.

Barnes hires Fuller to run the show and expects her to resign within days.

“The show is in the toilet,” McAdams says. “Becky has to resurrect it with her bare hands. She’s very ambitious, tries to be positive, naively positive, and dig it out of the toilet.”

In an attempt to bring credibility to Daybreak, Fuller comes up with a clever way to force IBS’s highly respected newsman, Mike Pomeroy (Ford), to move to morning television and anchor the show with Daybreak’s longtime co-host, Colleen Peck (Keaton).

It’s a job that Pomeroy, who has spent his life chasing hard news, believes is below him.

“He spent his life doing hard news and his contract at IBS has not yet run out,” says Ford, explaining his character’s dilemma. He’s enjoying his $6 million salary, but if he turns down the job he will lose his pay cheque.

“It’s his personal greed that compels him to go back and do Daybreak,” he says.

Ford, who turns 69 next year, has no plans to retire from acting.

“There’s money involved,” Ford jokes when asked what motivates him to keep making films. When it’s mentioned that in almost 50 years in the industry, Ford’s films – which include some of the biggest blockbuster franchises of all-time such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones – have made more than $US6 billion at the box office and he likely has more than enough money to retire comfortably, he smiles and finally comes clean.

“No, I love the work,” admits Ford, who this year also will be seen alongside Daniel Craig and Sam Rockwell in the action sci-fi Cowboys & Aliens.

“I love to get on the set and play. I like making movies.”

Ford also enjoyed his time working with McAdams. He glows with affection when her name is raised.

“She’s more than gorgeous,” Ford says. “She’s really good at what she does and she’s a pleasure to work with.

“She has a rare capacity to keep all the comedy balls in the air and maintain an emotional vulnerability at the same time.”

Ontario-born McAdams has emerged as one of Hollywood’s favourite leading women, with roles opposite her former boyfriend Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in The Family Stone, Pierce Brosnan in Married Life, Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes and the aforementioned Aussie duo, Crowe and Bana.

But she says her dream co-star is Daniel Day Lewis.

“I think he’s the bee’s knees when it comes to being such an incredible actor and he’s so unique and classy in his choices,” McAdams says.

She was considered for the role of Vesper Lynd in the James Bond film Casino Royale as well as Anne Hathaway’s role in Devil Wears Prada and a significant role in Mission Impossible III. She stated in an interview in May 2006 that she did not want to star in a big-budget action film because she only wanted to pursue projects she was passionate about.

“I’d like to be in the business and to be in a position where I could leave the business for a while and have a family, take some time off and still come back and be part of great films,” she says.

“That would be ideal. But that’s the fairytale.”

The actor, who still lives in Canada, says she feels more comfortable in dramatic roles and finds comedy one of her biggest challenges.

She chooses her movies as they come along and tries not to commit to them too far in advance.

“I just don’t know who I’m gonna be, what I’m gonna feel like doing,” she says.

“Sometimes you read a script, you’ll love it and it will go away, and then two years after it will come back and it doesn’t offer the same challenges for me anymore.

“It’s hard to say no to a movie. It feels very unstable and you go ‘God I’m never gonna work again’. But you have to quiet those voices and evaluate where you are at the moment.”

The actor seems to take her rocketing career in stride but reveals she is often a bundle of nerves and it was particularly the case when she shared scenes with Ford, an actor she grew up idolising.

“I seem very calm on the outside but on the inside I’m screaming,” McAdams says.

“He’s one of my childhood heroes.

“I wanted to impress him when we did those scenes.”

The scenes McAdams is referring to are moments in Morning Glory when the gruff, apparently bulletproof Pomeroy shows his human, vulnerable side to the relentless young producer, Fuller. “I knew he was just going to kill this part,” she says of Ford.

“We haven’t seen him like this for a while and he’s so funny.

“Harrison has a really dry, still sense of humour and it’s perfect for this character. He was very vulnerable too, which I didn’t know going in and I found myself in scenes with him where he was completely exposed emotionally and very honest.”

Vulnerability is also something McAdams knows well because despite her resume of films, she sometimes gets overlooked by directors and casting agents for roles she would dearly love to win.

Her goal now is to be considered for as many different roles as possible.

“It’s fun to experiment and see what I like,” she says.

“It feels great. I feel very lucky and excited to be part of this world. It’s a real privilege.”

She can also relate to her Morning Glory character’s ambitious drive, although McAdams says her drive is a few pegs lower than Fuller’s turbocharged ambition.

McAdams remembers scoring her first big gig in 2001, a role on the Canadian-shot children’s TV series The Famous Jett Jackson, and she grabbed the opportunity with both hands, just as Fuller does with the Daybreak job.

“It was a guest role and I thought, ‘This is it. This is my moment!’ ” McAdams recalls.

But, it would be another three years before her career shot to a new level in the comedy Mean Girls, opposite Lindsay Lohan, and the critically acclaimed teary drama The Notebook.

“When you are starting out it is so unpredictable what’s going to happen,” McAdams says.

“You really feel like if you get that big shot, you can’t blow it.”

© 2011 The Courier Mail | Written by Peter Mitchell and Nean Wearing | No copyright infringment intended.