Published: Spring, 2005
Rachel McAdams, star of the movies Mean Girls and The Notebook, explains why she’s always the brides made, never the bride.
Long before she became an actress, Rachel McAdams’s first recurring role was a flower girls, first at age four, then a year later at age five. “I was the angel flower girl, then the devil flower girl,” she recalls of her behavior at each ceremony. Angel and devil, coincidentally enough, could also describe the 28-year-old’s best known parts to date: Allie, the love-struck, ebullient Southern belle in the sleeper hit The Notebook, and Regina George, leader of the backstabbing high-school pack in the last year’s Mean Girls. This summer she will return to her bridal party roots in Wedding Crashers, in which she plays a perpetual bridesmaid. (The movie plays for laughs – except when it comes to her bridesmaid wardrobe. “The dresses were quite pretty,” she says, “although I guess no bride ever thinks she’s picked bad ones.”) Currently filming a Wes Craven thriller in Toronto – for which the small-town Canadian girl will earn her first million-dollar paycheck – McAdams took a break to discuss good versus evil, her love of ChapStick, and the out-of-body experience of seeing kids dressing like her for Halloween.
Were you a mean girl or a nice girl growing up?
Oh, all Canadians are nice [laughs]. No, I think most girls have their moments of meanness, but they’re not encouraged to let them out – which probably makes them meaner.
Did you take it out on your little sister?
We had our sibling rivalry, but thankfully we get along very well now.
Was your high school like the one in Mean Girls?
Mean Girls is definitely an exaggeration. There were definitely cliques and divisions. Isn’t high school pretty universal for the most part?
Is it weird you’re on a film set amid the glamour and you think back to working behind the counter at McDonald’s?
Yeah. I hadn’t been on a plane till I was 22, and I never really lived anywhere beyond Ontario. My whole life has changed, but you get used to it as it goes. I’ll be in the gym or hotel, and I’ll see that Mean Girls is on Pay Per View, and you think, That was trange, and then you move on. You go to dinner or brush your teeth or do whatever it was you were doing. I still feel like the same person.
What does it mean to be a movie star?
Apparently, I was a Halloween costume. Or, someone dressed up as me for Halloween – as a Mean Girl, obviously.
As Regina dressed up as a Playboy Bunny in the Halloween party scene?
This woman told me her daughter had hone with her friends as the Mean Girls, and I don’t know if they went in the Bunny costumes. I think they were 12 years old, so I hope not.
Do people recognize you on the street now?
I was in a store in Toronto the other day, and this girl who was working there grabbed my arm and said, “Hi!” and I said “Hi,” and then she just ran away. It was definitely one of the stranger moments I’ve had.
Your picture is also on the cover of the paperback version of The Notebook now. Do you have a copy of it?
I don’t. It does seem weirder than being on the cover of a magazine, because people carry books around with them for days and weeks on end. The idea of being in the people’s purses is kind of weird. Exciting, but weird.
I don’t think people who saw The Notebook would automatically recognize you as Regina George. Is it a good thing or a bad thing you’ve had such a distinct look for each role?
I don’t think I will necessarily always be so contrasting – Allie versus Regina, period versus modern, age 24 versus age 16 – but I really hope to give a uniqueness to my characters. I hope not to repeat myself too much.
How did you like having red hair in The Notebook?
At first, we couldn’t figure out the hair. I think the obvious choice was that she would be blonde – I think she was in the book. We tried different things, and Nick [Cassavetes, the film’s director] saw me with the red hair, and that was it. Then it started to inform the character, being a Southern belle and feisty at the same time.
I wonder if they changed the cover of the book to match your hair.
Oh, it’ll be strawberry blonde.
When you played Mean Girl Regina, was that your own hair or a wig?
It was a wig. I don’t think I’m capable of growing that kind of hair. That’s a special skill I was not born with.
Are there products that you swear by for your face or your body? Are there places that you go for specific treatments? Or are you sort of low-maintenance?
I’m kind of low-maintenance … I mean, I use soap [on my face].
You mean a bar?
A bar of soap, yes.
Yes, pretty high-class isn’t it? But I love makeup. I really like Benetint. I lather it on my arms and legs to get that freshly exercised look. I’m addicted to ChapStick. And I use just your regular run-of-the-mill Maybelline liquid concealer. It’s awesome.
How did you convey being head over heels in love without being schmaltzy? I think a lot of people loved The Notebook because it was so believable.
We’re so inundated with romance in Hollywood, so you have to be careful that you’re playing the reality, the conflict of it, hat sometimes you can fall in love with two people. Things are complicated, and things aren’t always clear.
Pretty much everyone who reads this issue of magazine is going to be a bride soon. How about you?
I’m not planning on getting married – affirmatively not getting married.
Every in your life?
I’m fan of marriage, but more for other people right now than for myself.
Well, are you seeing someone?
If I have a boyfriend, he doesn’t know about it yet. He hasn’t gotten that memo.