CineCon: Rachel McAdams on “The Notebook”

Cinema Confidential
Published: June, 2004

She was first the “Hot Chick” and then one of the “Mean Girls.” Now, Rachel McAdams is stepping outside of the Hollywood pop culture fare for a more dramatic performance in “The Notebook.”

The Canadian-born actress stars opposite Ryan Gosling in the Nick Cassavetes drama based on the hit novel by Nicholas Sparks. The film takes place during an innocent summer in the 1940s, when a debutante (McAdams) is courted by a local working class boy named Noah (Gosling). Allie agrees to go on a date with Noah after he professes his love for her on a ferris wheel. The two hit it off instantly and spend a summer they’ll never forget. But social classes collide and Allie’s parents try to convince her that Noah isn’t right for her. The two go their separate ways, but is their love strong enough for the two to reunite?

We talked to Rachel McAdams recently about her upcoming drama at a press day in LA.

Q: How does it feel being labeled Hollywood’s new “it” girl after the success of “Mean Girls”?
RACHEL: It’s exciting and daunting all at the same time. I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed. It’s quite a flux of emotions.

Q: Is there anyway to categorize that as one of the benefits to your career? It’s quite a paradox for an emerging actor because you have to sacrifice privacy and a normal life for more powerful. Are you trying to avoid that?
RACHEL: Trying to, trying to. We’ll see. It’s interesting; you always think, “Oh, the next movie, I’ll relax and everything [will] come easy.” You always think you hit a point and everything will click. And I will say in terms of clicking, everything feels about “clicked” right now. I’m starting to have a bit of a hunger right now for that challenge of waving through the press and the publicity and the scripts. I have an appetite for that right now.

Q: James Marsden told us that Nick Cassavetes really drilled you into bringing out the emotional, complicated aspects of your character. What was that like because you were in most of the scenes in this movie, or at least, a large portion of it?
RACHEL: It was very intense and I was very tired but Nick and I both knew that I needed to get to that point where I was out of my head and totally in my body, totally in this life of this wild child that Allie is and it sort of took those extremes and took being pushed and not knowing what I was doing all the time but trusting him and vice versa. It was quite an experience and I would do it all over again.

Q: Do you need that challenge?
RACHEL: Yeah. It gets me out of my head which is really important. It’s great to be in your head when you’re preparing for a role or going through the script and getting really specific. But as soon as you get out there, you have to let all that go and not let anything come your way. It’s best to be almost unstable on your feet because sort of like being a cat, you get thrown off a roof, you will find your way.

Q: Is Allie’s personality very different from yours, which why you needed that push?
RACHEL: I think it was a little of both. This was my first big studio leading role in a film and it’s a tall order. I was aware of my responsibility of carrying the film and that was Nick’s way of shaping me out of being aware of all of those things that weren’t going to help me. I do connect to the character in many ways but I didn’t grow up as a debutante. I didn’t live in the south. He brought me up two months early and put me through tennis lessons and dance practices.

Q: What did you do in the auditions to convince Nick that this was your character?
RACHEL: I didn’t really [do anything]. I came in, had the audition, and Ryan was there. I think Nick saw that we worked well together. I walked out of that room and knew my life had changed.

Q: How did you work on developing your chemistry with Ryan Gosling? Nick said that you two have very different personalities…
RACHEL: It definitely took some time. There’s so many trust issues and working all that stuff out in the beginning takes a lot of time getting to know a partner. But I think we took on the personality of our characters as well. Ryan was quiet and settled and very intellectual and became that Man of the Earth. I was sort of flying up over here and bouncing all the walls. We were total opposites which makes for such a great story.

Q: What do you feel more comfortable with: drama or comedy?
RACHEL: I’ve always gravitated towards drama for sure. I’m a very serious person which is great to do comedy because it gets you out of that and explore a whole other side to you. But they’re both pretty similar.

Q: Do you fear being typecast into being a comedic actress?
RACHEL: That’s hilarious to me. It’s really funny to me.

Q: What kind of offers are you getting now? More comedy or drama?
RACHEL: A mix of both. That’s what I’m liking. It’s coming from both sides and I feel like the work has been different enough that there’s also an in-between that I hope to find as well.

Q: If you could have one superhero power, what would you choose?
RACHEL: Ooh, just one? I’ve just been reading “Fantastic Four” so I have invisibility in my head.

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