USA Weekend: She’s on top again

USA Weekend
Published: August 2, 2009

Rachel McAdams reclaims her Hollywood “It” girl status.

It’s lunchtime in East Harlem with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. Actress Rachel McAdams, on a break from shooting a movie with her elder co-stars, is trying to refocus her attention amid a crush of cast and crew members squeezed into a church basement doubling as a cafeteria.

Let’s be honest,” McAdams says bluntly, midway through a conversation about her non-linear career trajectory. “I was totally terrified that I would never get back on track and I would never work again.”

McAdams, 30, is reflecting on the surprising gap in her résumé. Just when she started to become an A-list star — with back-to-back hit movies, including 2004’s “The Notebook” and 2005’s “Wedding Crashers” — she all but vanished from the scene.

Now, the doe-eyed darling is back, working harder than ever. She appears as the tragically besotted heroine opposite Eric Bana in the adaptation of best-selling hanky-wringer “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” out Aug. 14. Earlier this year, she starred with Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in the thriller “State of Play.” And this winter, she shares the billing with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in “Sherlock Holmes.” Plus, there’s “Morning Glory,” the film she has been shooting with Ford and Keaton, which is due out next year.

Known for playing the Everygirl consumed by love opposite a series of toe-curling cuties, McAdams laughs as she admits, “It sounds terrible, but [the hot factor of her leading men] wears off so quickly. You have to get to the point where you trust each other so that you go to friendship pretty fast.”

Not so with earnest indie heartthrob Ryan Gosling, McAdams’ “Notebook” co-star and on-and-off fellow until last fall. Since their split, the paparazzi has snapped her smooching, biking and attending kundalini yoga classes (“it gets all of the cobwebs out, clears your head and opens up your imagination“) with actor Josh Lucas, who recently gushed that “there’s nothing like being in love in New York City.”

McAdams isn’t as forthcoming. When asked about Lucas, the chatty, sometimes wry actress falls silent for several moments, then says carefully, “I try really hard not to comment when it comes to matters of the heart.”

Still, she says, she always has dreamed of having kids, and “ideally, I’d like to be married to the father.”

Raised by a truck driver dad and nurse mom in Canada (who “are still very much in love,” she says admiringly), the former competitive figure skater says that if she had any other career, it would be in the food industry. “Feeding people is such an intimate experience,” says McAdams, who hawked burgers and fries at McDonald’s for three years before hitting it big. “When you share a meal, it goes into a person’s self — it blows my mind. I’d love to work on a farm … if it wasn’t such hard labor.”

McAdams’ agri-lust grows from her passion for the environment, which she writes about on Observes co-star Bana: “She lives true to her theories, a very green, responsible life.” Although McAdams gave up vegetarianism (among her reasons: “I needed to be a lot more diligent; it’s a lot of work … “), she purchases green power for her home in Toronto, rides a bike and unplugs appliances.

Ultimately, McAdams is just trying to “go with the flow” in this “new phase” in her life. Her advice: “Relax and enjoy the ride because it’s so out of your control anyway.”

Why She’s HOT!

– Has three big movies in the works, including the big-screen version of the best-seller “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” opening Aug. 14.
– Received the Female Star of the Year Award at this year’s ShoWest Convention for movie distributors.
– Left ’em begging for more after her on- and off-screen romance with co-star Ryan Gosling in 2004’s “The Notebook.”
– Next up: co-stars with Robert Downey Jr. in the movie “Sherlock Holmes,” which opens Christmas Day.

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