Female First: Rachel McAdams Q&A

Female First
Published: May 20, 2011

Rachel McAdams leads that cast in comedy movie Morning Glory – which also stars Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.

An upstart television producer accepts the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program with warring co-hosts.

– Good morning Rachel. How are you?
I’m great thanks. I’m actually warming up now. It’s quite cold outside.

– That’s true. We are in New York, it’s literally freezing temperatures outside, but you were born and raised in Canada. I thought you would be used to the cold.
Yes, that’s true, but I still feel it.

– What’s the key to keeping warm?
Keeping warm? Let me think … long underwear. Yes, wear long underwear (laughs).

– That’s the key? Long underwear?
(Laughs) Yeah, and isn’t it true that if you keep your hands, feet and head warm then you’ll be OK. Yeah, I think that’s right.

– Thanks for the great advice. Now, tell me about Becky Fuller, who you play in Morning Glory.
Becky loves news, loves everything about news and always has. She works on this little, tiny TV news show in New Jersey and she thinks she is being promoted one day and she has actually been fired and is devastated.

So, she tries to find something in the big city, Manhattan, and after trials and tribulations she is hired to take over a morning TV show called Daybreak.

– It seems like it is a great career move, but Daybreak is not in the best condition when Becky arrives. It is the number four rated morning show, the hosts are dysfunctional and morale among staff is not the best.
Yes. The show is in the toilet and Becky has to resurrect it with her bare hands.

– Everyone thinks she will quit within days, but that’s not the case.
Becky is very ambitious, tries to be positive, naively positive, and dig it out of the toilet (laughs).

– Did you visit a TV morning show to prepare for the role?
I shadowed some executive producers from Good Morning America and the Today show. I was disappointed to learn that executive producers are far more organised than Becky and much more together as people (laughs).

Becky is a lot more frenetic. But, I like the juxtaposition of that that she was trying to keep Daybreak from falling apart while she was also falling apart. I met some great producers along the way that gave me some great insights.

– You have had amazing success and some fantastic roles over the years. Can you relate to Becky? Are you as ambitious as Becky?
No, not really. I’m not as ambitious and I am quite selective with the roles I choose. I commit to projects which speak to me. It’s a strange thing. Sometimes I read a script and it grabs me and perhaps if I read it at another point in my life I wouldn’t be so attracted to it.

Sometimes you’re at a certain point and it makes sense. If it was six months earlier or six months later, it may not have the same attraction. It’s really a crap shoot.

– When you decide to do a film, what are some key factors that influence your opinion?
A good story, a great role, a great director and good people rank highly for me.

– Is it true that you were nervous about starring in Morning Glory because it is a comedy and you feared you would not be funny?
Yes, I tried to talk (director) Roger (Michell) out of it a few times and thankfully he didn’t listen to me. I was very nervous about taking on this part and I didn’t want to let him down.

Yes, I was very hesitant, but we talked about it a little bit and he eased my fears. I’m very grateful to him for that.

– What did Roger say that eased your fears?
He got me out of my head and into my body. I grew up playing sports and that’s the best way I work. It was a testament to him that he figured that out. He said ‘Run around, wave your arms and something will happen’.

– Becky, as you mentioned, is fired from the New Jersey show. Have you ever been fired from a job?
No, thankfully I haven’t (laughs).

– How about before you started making movies? I read you worked at a McDonald’s before you became an actor. Did you burn French Fries or a Big Mac and get fired?
(Laughs) No, I’ve never been fired. I’ve certainly come close.

– So you actually fired McDonald’s and moved on to become a big Hollywood star?
Yes. I fired McDonald’s, but we parted on good terms (laughs).

– Becky really faces a tough task when she is hired at Daybreak, but she views it as the chance of a lifetime. You said earlier you are not as ambitious as Becky, but what were you like when you scored your first big acting job?
When you are starting out it is so unpredictable what’s going to happen. You feel like if you get that big shot, you can’t blow it. You put so much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time.

So , yeah, I think I definitely put that same pressure on myself, you know, ‘If I don’t get this job, then it’s all over!’. Of course, experience tells you otherwise.

– So you can relate to what Becky goes through in jamming her foot in the door to get what she wants?
Yes I definitely could relate to Becky in terms of feeling like you get your foot in the door and you feel it is your only shot.

– What would you say was your first big role?
It was a kids’ TV series (The Famous Jett Jackson). It was a guest role and it was about three days work, but I thought ‘This is it. This is my moment’.

I was 21 or 22 at the time. There wasn’t much I could do with the role, but I fought for it. It is probably a good thing because you do rise to the occasion.

– Morning Glory has a great ensemble cast. There is yourself, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton, Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson. Becky gets to spend a lot of time with Harrison’s character, Mike Pomeroy, who is a veteran newsman forced to work on Daybreak. What was it like working with Harrison?
He is one of my childhood heroes. I loved Indiana Jones and Star Wars and all of his other great films. When I was doing scenes with him I may seem very calm, but on the inside I was so excited.

I wanted to impress him when we did those scenes where his character was extremely vulnerable.

– It sounds like you were a little starstruck working with Harrison.
I was. I probably appeared calm when we were doing scenes, but as soon as it was over I was literally shaking like a leaf.

Because I have so much respect for him and he is an idol, I wanted to impress. Luckily I think I was able to hide the fact I was so excited to work with him.

– Harrison is pretty much perfect for the role of Mike Pomeroy.
Yes, I just knew he was just going to be perfect. It has been a while since we have seen his funny side in a film.

Harrison has a fantastic sense of humor. It’s very dry, but very funny. The role also allowed him to be vulnerable, requiring him to be exposed emotionally and honest.

– And how about Diane Keaton? What was the experience like working with her.
It was amazing as well. She’s hilarious and has so much style. I remember one day she gave me the best advice when I told her how much I loved what she was wearing.

It was early in the morning, I was dressed in sweat pants and she was fabulous in high heels and a beautiful dress.

She said ‘Rachel, always wear the best things in your closet. Never save them. They are there to be used’. So, now I always wear my best stuff. Well, I try to (laughs).

– Thanks for your time.
Remember to buy some long underwear.

– I will.

Morning Glory is out on Blu-ray and DVD 23 May from Paramount Home Entertainment

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