Published: September 10, 2014
The Canadian-born, girl-next-door star of romcoms, Rachel McAdams, shows her darker side for John le Carré’s thriller A Most Wanted Man.
YOU probably think you know what Rachel McAdams has to offer. The girl next door – as long as ‘next door’ is Ontario, Canada, where she hails from – McAdams has ascended Hollywood’s A-list in a series of big-hitting romances. Think The Notebook, swooning over Ryan Gosling (whom she dated for two years). Or The Vow, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, Midnight In Paris or last year’s Richard Curtis movie, About Time.
Little wonder she got dubbed ‘the new Julia Roberts’. ‘I would say there’s a side of me that’s a romantic for sure,’ nods the 35-year-old McAdams, petite and pretty in a sparkling Valentino dress. ‘My parents are very much still in love and I grew up with that around me, so I’m a believer.’
While past relationships include actors Josh Lucas and Michael Sheen, she evidently loves a good fictional romance too. ‘I remember the first time I saw Giant or Gone With The Wind. They really stay with you for a long time.’ Still, judging by her recent output, for directors such as Brian De Palma (on erotic thriller Passion) and Terrence Malick (on To The Wonder), McAdams isn’t afraid to experiment with more challenging material.
Her latest is A Most Wanted Man, a taut John le Carré adaptation starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright and directed by Anton Corbijn, the Dutch director who began his career shooting bands such as U2 and Depeche Mode. ‘He’s such a great visual artist,’ she enthuses, ‘coming with that photography and music background.’
Clearly Corbijn is a fan, casting McAdams as Annabel Richter, a German lawyer seeking asylum for a Chechen-Russian immigrant whose very presence in Hamburg has alerted both the US and German intelligence authorities.
‘Rachel has the potential to go darker and she still has incredible charm, so it was an interesting combination,’ he says. ‘She’s a very charming person. You can see why she’s so successful with these roles.’ Yet dubbing A Most Wanted Man a ‘very heavy drama’, McAdams clearly held no fears going up against her late co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles. ‘There was so much electricity in every scene he was in,’ she says.
Then there was perfecting a German dialect. ‘Even just learning the dialect and the flavour of the German sound informs this new kind of person in me,’ she says. ‘Sometimes the further from what you imagine yourself to be the better, because then you find you’re probably closer to those people than you think.’ The daughter of Sandra, a nurse, and Lance, a retired truck driver and furniture remover, McAdams’s family bonds seem tightly knit.
The eldest of three, she talks about her sister Kayleen, a celebrity make-up artist, and their trips to London and shared passion for cream teas. ‘The second we touch down we don’t go from the airport to the hotel, we go for airport scones and clotted cream… then to the hotel!’ she laughs. ‘I’m in heaven here because every two seconds someone is asking for a cup of tea and I always say yes.’
While this might sound more like the McAdams we know from her romantic leads, it might be a while before we see her in another such role. She’s coming up in boxing drama Southpaw with Jake Gyllenhaal (fuelling false rumours that the two were an item) plus Every Thing Will Be Fine, with James Franco, a harrowing domestic drama about a couple coping with the loss of a child. ‘I’m not really a creature of habit,’ she grins. ‘I like trying everything out.’
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