Published: May 16, 2011
No stranger to time travel, Rachel McAdams cutes up the screen once again in Woody Allen’s latest search for the perfect relationship in Midnight in Paris, with Owen Wilson, Michael Sheen, and Kathy Bates. Rachel sat down with Buzzine to talk about her dreams coming true working with Woody in Parisian museums, and her upcoming projects, including Sherlock Holmes Part 2.
IH: Woody had some nice things to say about you. He said that you’ve really got it, and he didn’t have to give you much direction. I’ve never heard that before…
RM: Oh, that’s very nice. He’s being very generous.
IH: Watching Owen, some of the gestures looked like Woody, and I’ve seen that in all of his movies. Do you see that happening on set? I assume he works differently with the main actors than he does with the supporting cast…
RM: I don’t know. I guess I can only speak from my experience. I know he and Owen seem to get along really well. I think they really admire each other, and I think that spilled over somehow into Owen playing this part. I think he did a really lovely job. But in terms of an impersonation of Woody, I don’t think Owen was doing that personally, but that’s just my opinion.
IH: When you were in that scene with Paul (Michael Sheen) and he was correcting the tour guide, when you found out the tour guide was actually the president of France’s wife, what did you think of that? Was she quite an actress, or what?
RM: I thought it was such a great choice. I didn’t know Carla [Bruni] before, but she’s a really lovely human being. I think this was her first acting job, and she did an amazing job. I think she did a really beautiful job with it. I think so, was it not? Am I wrong about that?
IH: Were you disappointed not to go back in time? I could see you as Zelda. Is there a time you’d like to go back to? Would that interest you, or are you into the now, which is the whole point of the movie?
RM: It was a valuable lesson I’d like to incorporate into my life. It’s part of why I do this job — I do get to go back in time. I get as close as you possibly can. I’m always looking to do that and different periods, and I’ve done the ’40s. Then Sherlock Holmes was late-1800s; I’d like to hit them all really.
IH: Is there great preparation in Woody Allen films? Because he wants everything to be simple. Do you do a lot of rehearsal beforehand? Because then you might think too much…
RM: No, I think he likes catching lightning in a bottle on the first one and not letting it get too overdone and too over-rehearsed. He likes the spontaneity of it.
IH: Have you seen Midnight in Paris yet?
RM: I have, yes.
IH: How was watching it for you? Just the opening sequence? Did it reignite the love for Paris?
RM: It did. I really appreciated that opening sequence; I think he captured Paris beautifully, and you can tell he has a love for it. It really comes across. You don’t see that very often — the opening credits taking that much time. Just takes its time and takes the city in, in the way that Parisians do too. They slow down, they sit on those sidewalk cafes, they just drink it in. I really loved that, and it kicks it off on the right foot, I think. It’s a love letter to Paris.
IH: What about falling in love with a pedant as you do in the movie? At what point does a guy stop being smart and become an obnoxious pedant?
RM: You see it from my character’s point of view. You’re talking about with Gil? I think she thinks he’s being foolish. I think she values how hard he’s worked and where he’s gotten to, and she thinks being a successful screenwriter is quite a feat, and he is dismissing that, and he thinks being a novelist is true art, and I think Inez is arguing against that. I think she’s quite frustrated with him. I think she feels like he’s throwing their life away and changing the rules, changing the game plan. Because she’s a planner, she’s got her sights set on the horizon; she knows what she wants, she knows how to get it, she’s very practical, and he’s got his head in the clouds. They’re so not right for each other.
IH: She wants to live in Malibu with a big house and his nice salary as a screenwriter, and he’s turning his back on the whole thing…
RM: Exactly. He’s changing the rules. I don’t think that’s working for her.
IH: How do you think your character would have changed if she went back to the past with him that day?
RM: I think she would have thrown a temper tantrum. “Get me out of here!” It’s a great question. That’s the sequel, I guess. I don’t know if she would have been as swept away as Gil. She’s too practical for that. Maybe she would have checked herself into a psychiatric hospital.
IH: You talked about being envious of television because you can revisit characters. What character that you’ve played would you like to revisit in film?
RM: That’s a good question. I did this movie with Tim Robbins called The Lucky Ones, and at the end of the movie, we go back… We’re soldiers who are on leave from Iraq, and at the end, we wind up going back, and it’s very open-ended. It’s kind of sad — you don’t know what will happen to these people, so it’d be interesting to carry that story on and see how that went, where that went. And she was really fun to play — probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever played.