Instyle: The Movie Star Next Door

Published: October 19, 2010

Rachel McAdams – She has the instincts of a character actress and the allure of a romantic heroine. Can a nice Canadian girl who loves to garden thrive in the hothouse of Hollywood? We’re betting yes.

At the Cover Shoot
Who Rachel McAdams
Where A town house in Paris’s 7th arrondissement
Who knew The space, built in the early 1700s, was Karl Lagerfeld’s home for 27 years.

C’est chic
The inspiration is a bit retro and reminiscent of 1960s Parisian couture atelier,” says stylist Alice Gentilucci of the shoot. McAdams reclines in a Louis Vuitton skirt, top, and shoes, and a necklace by Bulgari,

Drink up
Our eco-conscious cover girl brought along her Bobble, a reusable water bottle with a replaceable filter that can uses 300 times. $10;

You asked, Rachel answered!
Q: What are your favorite games? – Emily Regenold, Cincinnati
A: “Don’t even get me started! If I could just play board games and cards full time I would do it. My sister and I played Skip-Bo every day in Ireland, and for some reason we get really aggressive over Spit.

When we first met …
In july 2005, the month Wedding Crashers debuted, McAdams revealed the products she couldn’t live without (Burt’s Bees lip balm was one) in Beaty Talk.

When she is not playing the role of in-demand actress, Rachel McAdams is – would you believe it? – planting herbs and dehydrating her own fruit at home. Sure, she might look like a Hollywood princess, but this Canadian free spirit is as down-to-earth as they come.

It’s hard to imagine that the placid beauty sitting across the table at L’Avenue, a popular spot for chic shoppers in Paris’s 8th arrondissement, could ever be a cutthroat competitor. But Rachel McAdams, the sealthy star of such diverse fare as the weepie classic The Notebook and last year’s kinetic Sherlock Holmes, is always doling out the suprise. As a kid growing up in small-town Ontario, she trained intense to be a pro figure skater and has faced every challenge since then with an athlete’s uncompromising tenacity. “Intense sports at such a young age will do that to you“, she says adjusting the linen blazer thrown over her shoulders. “I actually got a summer job as a tour guide in New York when I was 18 or 19. But I’d never been to the city and had no clue what I was doing. I stayed up all night studying books and showed up at work with notes written all over my arms,” she says, grinning. “I made it work somehow.

She does more than make it work when she commits herself, as proven by her string of critically lauded performances (the Machiavellian leader of a high school clique in Mean Girls and the brainy love interest in Wedding Crashers among them). She has a raw talent, no doubt, but she also has uncommon and unflappable work ethic. Eric Bana remembers stealing a peek at her script while they were shooting The Time Traveler’s Wife. “She had a lot more notes than I did,” he recalls with a laugh, “so it was very intimidating“.

Today, with her blond hair loosely pulled back and her skin still shimmery with traces of makeup from a photo shoot the day before, the star looks nothing if not utterly approachable. She’s in France to shoot Woody Allen’s next film, Midnight in Paris, co-starring Marion Cotillard and Adrien Brody, and she spent the previous week on vacation with her sister and a friend biking around Ireland. But her mind easily and ofter drifts back to her low-key life in Canada. The eco-enthusiast has been pondering ways to plant thyme on the roof outside her bedroom window (“It smells to good!” and plotting out her next experiment with her food dehydrator. “I found these magic strawberries that taste just like jam when dried,” she says excitedly.

But while she may relish these Martha Stewarts moments, she’s no homebody. There have been some boldface romances – a headline-grabbing relationship with her Notebook co-star Ryan Gosling that ended in 2007 and a more recent courtship with actor Josh Lucas. As she sees it, dating a famous name in her line of work is pretty much the equivalent of an office romance. :I usually take away one close relationship from every job, some romantic, some not,” says McAdams matter-of-factly, as if she’s no different from the girl in the cubicle next door.

Of course, she’s definitely not that girl, and moments later, as if on cue, a woman passing by outside exclaims through the restaurant’s open window, “Mon Dieu! It’s you! I just watched ze movie last night! Ze Notebook! You ae magnifique.” The star’s green eyes widen, and she graciously smiles, saying, “Well, it’s nice to meet you. Thank you!

Even after nearly a dozen major starring roles, McAdams sill seems genuinely surprised by this kind of adulation.And she should brace for more with the release of this month’s Morning Glory. In the romantic comedy directed by Roger Michell (Nothing Hill), McAdams shines as a go-get-’em morning TV producer who lands her first big gig – the main duty of which is diplomatically massaging the egos of the show’s two star anchors, played by Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford with hilarious flair. “There’s a good chance that this movie will be a breakthrough for her,” says Keaton, who also player her mother in 2005’s The Family Stone. “She will emerge as a bonafide movie star. Luckily, she has created the foundation to be very graceful thus even occurs.” For her part, McAdams doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s ahead; instead she takes each adventure as it comes. “I’m game for anything,” she says.

You were just biking around Ireland on vacation. Now you’re breakfasting in Paris. Have you always loved traveling?
No, but it’s been one of the biggest doors opened to me as a result of what I do. In fact, the first time I ever got on a plane was to go to Italy to make a movie.

Sounds like a real Cinderella moment.
It was magical! I was getting chocolates and the newspaper brought to me – although the turbulence really freaked me out. I thought, my first flight and I’m going to go down? And then I noticed everyone else around me was sleeping. I was the only one who worried [laughs]. I loved flying for a long time after that, though now I prefer to see places in the other ways I can, like by train. On this trip we biked and drove though parts of Ireland, and we stayed in bed-and-breakfasts. I loved that. It’s such an intimate experience – you’re standing in someone’s kitchen while they’re fixing you breakfast. I wanted to stay hostel too, but the girls were like, “Nooo, we’re drawing the line.”

Were you recognized in these dar-long locations?
More so in Ireland than anywhere else in the world. They must watch a lot of movies there! But you know what usually happens? Someone will say, “You look like – oh, what’s her name? Oh, honey, what’s her name? You know, the girl from the – oh,, oh, you know. Jennifer Garner! That’s who. Are you Jennifer?” I just smile and say, “No, I’m not.”

Do you ever regret not pursuing a career as pro skater?
It gets to a point where you’re either going to try to get to the Olympics or not. They said to me, “You’ll move to Toronto You’ll live away from your family. And you’ll tutored on the ice.” I thought skating was really fun, but in the end I just didn’t have that kind of passion for it.

There must be some great photographic evidence of your competition look.
Oh, I hope you never find it! My makeup bad had only blue and purple eye shadows. They would put my hair in sponge rollers and spray it till it was crusting. And then we had the teased bangs – just horrible.

Were you very aware of your looks when you were a girl?
My mom never put a lot of emphasis on it, so I didn’t either. I was in eight grade when I wore lipsticks for the first time. All my school pictures were me in bright pink lipstick with nothing else on my face. It was pretty bad.

When did you graduate out of the lipstick phase?
Oh, I was also really into clear mascara. I remember being in the parking lot of the grocery stroe and telling my mom a long sob story about how my eyelashes were falling into my eyes and how uncomfortable it was and how if I could just wear some clear mascara that would fix it all. It worked.

Was fashion important to you back then?
When I was a kid, I always walked around in my mom’s high heels. I used to take the mirror off my bedroom door and dance on top of it so I coud see the way the shoes looked from all angles. But in university, I was more of a tomboy. I’d wear a vintage T-shirt and ols jeans to roll around on the floor during drama class. These last few years have been a real education for me in terms of fashion. I’ve had exposure to these amazing designers and a whole new quality of clothing.

Do you have much input into what the characters you play wear? In Morning Glory there are lots of suits and pencil skirts.
I loved wearing that stuff – it’s so outside my everyday life. As far as my input, I like to pay attention to details, like asking, Would a girl moving from Jersey to the big city really be able to afford Louboutin shoes and a great hair colorist? It’s my job as an actor to make my scenes believable. That goes for the chemistry between me and my co-stars.

You’ve had some pretty handsome co-stars – it can’t be that hard to fake it.
This is true. I loved filming that scenes with Harrison Ford in Morning Glory, where I am just gushing about how much I admire him. I mean, I grew up with Harrison – we wore out our Raiders of the Lost Ark video tape ay my house. I get to work with these wonderful people who are so magnetic, it’s hard not to fall in love with them a little.

Do you think it’s easier to date actors because they can relate to your experience?
Not necessarily. I think some people can have to concept of what you do and still be very understanding, and others can get it completely and still not be right for you in the end.

Are you socially adventurous when it comes to guys?
I’m not shy, but I feel like I give off more confidence than I really have. I get in trouble for being overly friendly at times. Two hours will go by and I’ve been talking to the same person without really wanting to hand out beyond that. My friends will say, “We were trying to give you and out, and you wouldn’t take it.” But I was just having a nice time

With as much as you travel for work, do you find it hard to maintain a relationship?
I think if two people are willing to work on it and just accept that it was what it i, then it’s possible. It’s when you’re trying to battle something you just can’t change that it falls. But if you’re with someone who knows what the deal is they are willing and they’re to dive in, then, you know, you’ll have problems like anyone else, but I don’t think it stops you from having something that’ll thrive and be healthy. And it can be fun to meet someone somewhere else in the world. That’s not always roadblock.

Do you have a type?
I don’t think so, although I guess everyone says that, right? I like to be suprised by people, and find that makes life a lot easier too, when you just accept what’s coming your way rather then getting too caught up in asking yourself, ‘What am I looking for? What do I need?’

What about children? is that something you see in the future?
Part of me is very attached to the idea of having children, but circumstantially, it’ll have to be right. Too often you think, I just want to have a baby, but your thoughts don’t include the person you’re going to actually be making these little beings with. So I think it’s depend on if I find the person I want to do that with.

Do you feel any extra pressure as the eldest of three to deliver some grandkids?
I’m diverting it onto my brother – who’s to say the baby of the family shouldn’t do it first?

What I love About Rachel
Her male co-stars extol her many virtues

Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris) “One evening when were filming in Paris, we were hanging around by the trailers, and she was dancing like a little sex kitten. She’s smart, funny and sexy, like a cross between Brigitte Bardot and Jane Fonda. ”

Harrison Ford (Morning Glory “If she has an idea about how she wants something to be, she works hard to get it. Rachel doesn’t run away from hard work. She’s got a real Midwestern kind of ethic, wich I admire.

Eric Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife “She makes a really good sandwich – Black Forest ham and all kinds of stuff. It is spectacular.

On becoming an actress
My parents always thought I had a flair for drama. They said: “She’s going to be an actress or lawyer, for sure.“”

On experimenting with her hair
It’s fun for me to experiment with my hair,” says McAdams. “I prefer being a blonde, but I like it all. I’d like to really, really red at some point. I’d love to try everything.

About her concealer
I can’t live without my concealer,” says McAdams. “And I used to be a total blush whore till my sister was like, ‘You have to stop. This is out of control’‘”

On not being the performer
I like to bring people together and then just sit back and watch them all interact,” says McAdams. “I don’t necessarily always like to be the performer.”

On wearing heals
I’ve always liked dressing up. And I love a high heel – the higher the better. I just feel funny in flats.”

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