The Canadian Press
Published: April 29, 2004
LOS ANGELES (CP) – Rachel McAdams is a lean mean acting machine.
The small-town girl from St. Thomas, Ont., did not grow up rich, or spoiled or mean, but she’s able to weave all of these qualities into the self-absorbed main meanie in the movie Mean Girls, which opens Friday.
She plays Regina, a leggy, fashion-obsessed manipulator who is not a whole lot different from the bratty cheerleader she played in an earlier teen comedy, The Hot Chick.
However, with a drama slated for release later this year in which she appears opposite Sam Shepard, the 27-year-old actress is not too worried about becoming typecast as the Valley Girl we love to hate.
“I’m not concerned about it but it crossed my mind,” she said in an interview this week after Mean Girls, starring Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday), screened in L.A. on Sunset Boulevard.
“Regina is far more volatile,” said added, pointing out subtle differences in the two Valley Girl characters. “I was interested in exploring the machine-like quality she has to just want to hurt people. She’s much much harder to reach and is different from the Hot Chick character. But they are on the same plane.”
It’s this attention to detail and nuance that has McAdams hungry for inspired scripts. When she read Mean Girls, written by Saturday Night Live writer Tina Fey, she was excited to find teen characters believable and complex – for once.
“It’s got intelligence,” she said. “So many movies portray kids as stupid.”
McAdams is hunting for imaginative scripts with challenging characters _ such as Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – and laments Hollywood’s preoccupation for making remakes.
And she does love a challenge. Before she was old enough to go to school, she found a place in front of audiences as a four-year-old figure skater. She loved it, worked hard at it and competed in figure skating competitions throughout high school.
The York University theatre major may be able to toss her hair and roll her eyes to the delight of directors who perhaps see her as the next bitchy girl icon. But she has her own sights set on finding other roles.
“I like being a chameleon and I like branching off,” she said. “I like playing the rich girl even though I didn’t grow up rich. I want to get going in opposite directions because I want to be diverse.”
This summer, McAdams stars in The Notebook opposite Ryan Gosling, Gena Rowlands, Sam Shepard and James Garner. The movie is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name in which a young couple (McAdams and Gosling) meet in their teens and are reunited after the Second World War.
McAdams may suit the Valley Girl role but she’s also comfortable in serious roles. She was nominated for a Genie Award last year for a starring role in Perfect Pie, a film based on the play by Canadian playwright Judith Thompson.
“I’m more at home with drama. I’m a very serious person, a type A,” McAdams said. “But at the same time, it’s nice to be doing a comedy. You need these comedies. They have a funny way of being serious.”
“In the end, you have to be brave to do something completely different. You have to ask yourself who are you really doing it for. I have to do it for me or success means nothing.”
“I’m enjoying my life right now.”
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