Collider: Rachel McAdams Classes Up ‘Crashers’

Published: July 14, 2005

Hailing from, as she affectionately refers to it, “The Nosebleeds” of North America (i.e. Canada), Rachel McAdams can get away with the whole “Movie star? Me?” act for now, but another performance or two like the one she gives in Wedding Crashers, and that whole charade is going to get awfully old very quickly. As I noted in my review, it’s McAdams who grounds this otherwise exceedingly wacky film with her graceful and ingratiating portrayal of Claire Cleary.

So, here’s the one final pre-movie star roundtable interview from Rachel McAdams. Savor it. It’s nothing but press conferences and Barbara Walters from here on out.

The director said that you were the last person to audition for this part.
I think that happens a lot.

Yeah, I’m kind of at the bottom of the barrel. (Laughs.) You’re really scraping it.

Has that really happened a lot?
Yeah, that happened on THE NOTEBOOK, too.

When you went in for the audition, did you think you’d got it?
I really had no idea. It went really well, but that’s happened before, and then you hear nothing. So, you can’t really judge by being in the room. I felt good, and I felt like we had a great rapport, him and I, and he directed me, which is always nice. It was fun! It felt easy, and I hoped it would work.

Would you have been interested in playing the Gloria character?
Yes! They’d never cast me in that kind of thing, but, oh, for sure. I love playing outlandish characters; I love playing villains. They’re so much fun.

Did you change your hair after Mean Girls?
Actually that wasn’t my hair. Well, some of it was, just the front, but I actually had black hair and then these blonde bangs. And everyday I’d put on this blonde wig for Mean Girls. I could never grow my hair like that; she had a head of hair.

What was it like having Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour play your parents?
It was… interesting. What a pairing. And I never imagined I’d be calling Christopher Walken “Dad”. That came out of left field. You know, it’s funny, I’ve been very fortunate. It’s always been table scenes where you kind of pinch yourself, because everyone comes together. That happened on The Notebook; you know, “Joan Allen is sitting here.” And then in The Wedding Crashers, Chris Walken, Jane Seymour, and Owen is across from me. And I just finished a film where we did a big dinner scene, and Diane Keaton and Sarah Jessica Parker… those are the really overwhelming and amazing moments for me, where I just sit back and go, “I’m so blessed to have been invited to this table.”

On the movie you just finished with Diane Keaton [The Family Stone], you also worked with Owen’s brother [Luke].
Yeah! Although playing my brother. No love interest there.

Could you talk about the differences in working with Luke and Owen?

They’re very similar. They’re really sharp guys, but don’t flaunt it at all. Luke was just as good; he’s really good at improve as well. They’re charismatic, and they have that Texas charm. They’re similar in a lot of ways.

Working with Owen, did you have any idea what it would be like?
I didn’t really know what to expect. I tried to go into it with an open mind, and just take it as it comes. I knew it might get a little crazy, which it did (laughs), but you just kind of roll with it. That’s what you have to do when people are improv-ing; you have to be open to the curveballs that are going to come your way. Sometimes you deflect, sometimes you take it in, and what’s great is that it always keeps you genuine. It’s always fresh and new, and it’s not too rehearsed, which is a totally different way of working.

Had you worked like that before?
Not to this degree (laughs). No.

Would you like to continue working like that? Doing more comedy?

Yeah. Definitely. I learned so much.

Was it inspiring to work with Jane Seymour or Chris [Walken]?

Oh, yeah. These are people I’ve been watching my whole life from a great distance in the nosebleeds of Canada. So, to be in the same room with them, you have to step up to the plate, and I didn’t know if I could. Especially, my first scene with Chris was the dancing scene, and I know he’s a fabulous dancer.

He dances, right?
He dances. He’s smooth. So, I’m polkaing my face off before that day. But that’s the great thing you generally discover about these veteran actors: there’s a reason why they are so formidable, and they take you with them most of the time; they’re very generous people. Diane Keaton was the same way: so generous, so present. That’s what’s great! She’s so present.

Have you ever been a bridesmaid?

Never a bridesmaid.

Have you ever been a guest at a wedding where the vows are as cheesy as in the movie?
I usually kind of tune them out. (The room laughs.) I know that’s so awful. It’s like being in church, though.

What’s you belief in weddings and marriage?
I’d like to have a barbeque. I want to save the money for the funeral. (Huge laughter from the room as McAdams’s jaw drops upon realizing her slip.) For the honeymoon. I’m never going to get married now. (Laughs.) Yeah.

Could you tell us a bit about Isla as well?

Oh, Isla’s awesome. We all got along really well, which is nice. It’s an ideal situation, especially if you’re shooting on location. I admire her so much. She’s so brave, and has great comedic timing, and really held her own with Vince. I loved watching her work. She’s incredible. I wish she’d work more, but she likes to take time off.

Could you talk a little bit about how quickly your career has taken off? We’ve heard directors talk you – like in THE NOTEBOOK and here – about how you’re so perfect for a part. You’re so elegant and complex and simple at the same time. How do you feel? You’ve really made a mark in such a short period of time.
That’s the best part of the attention: they will in turn let you do more of what you want to do. That’s been the best part of getting to experiment, and, hopefully, get to succeed or fail, and still get to get up on your feet and do it again. That’s the most exciting part for me right now. And the other stuff is really nice, too: the compliments and to work with such incredible people so early on. I’m so lucky.

Do you find yourself getting recognized on the street now?
Yeah. I still live in Canada, so it’s not quite the same. And when I’m in L.A., I’m in a car; you don’t have the contact with the public. It’s not so bad. It’s still pretty much the same. I still feel pretty normal-ish.

So you only work here in L.A., and, then, when you’re done you go back to Canada?

Yeah. It seems that so much is being shot here now, that the business has really come back around to Hollywood. I just missed the Toronto boat – so much was shooting in Toronto, but it’s really dried up now. So, yeah, I just come in here to work and then go home for—

I pay taxes in both places. They get you on both sides.

Do you feel, though, that the luxury of getting to live in Canada is about to change? If things really take off, as it appears primed to do, and you hit that next level, how will deal with it?
I kind of look at it the opposite way. It was hard at first to, you know, “You need to be here auditioning!” When you’re trying really hard to find work. But now it’s a little bit easier. The jobs are… it’s a different landscape. Hopefully, I can stay up there. It’s been three years, living up there and working out here. I’m kind of just trying to keep doing that. I might drive myself insane. It is hard to not have a place here.

Are the offers getting to be more now?
Yeah. It’s certainly a different story than it was a year ago.

What kind of roles would you like to do?

I want to try a lot of things that I haven’t tried. You know, I did a thriller [RED EYE] after this, because it was so different and it was a genre I hadn’t worked in yet. Then I did a beautiful family ensemble drama. And next? I don’t know. I might go off to do a small independent in New York. I’m not sure. The quality of material is important, but, basically, I’m open to anything. I like to stay open to anything.

The thriller, is it a slasher movie?
It is a Wes Craven film, but it’s a bit of a departure for him because there’s no demons and nothing supernatural and not a lot of gore. It’s more psychological.

It takes place on a plane, right?
It takes place on a plane. For a long time. (Laughs.)

Was it difficult to keep a straight face with Owen Wilson? It seems like he’d just crack you up.
So difficult. Oh, man, it was rough. (Laughs.) No, he was great. You know, our stuff was a little bit more serious. But, yeah, that kiss in the church – he’s got this whole monologue where he just goes off. I haven’t seen the film, so I don’t quite know what it wound up being, but it was hard because I had to be the girl who was like, “No, come on, we’re talking about love, and let’s be serious here!” I was always the heavy; I felt so bad, like “Here comes the ball and chain.” But, yeah, it’s hard to keep a straight face with those guys. They can make anything funny. That’s their job.

Did you spend a lot of time hanging out with them off the set? Particularly on location?

Vince did this great thing where we were all staying on Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and he rented a Seadoo. It was just like a taxi service. He’d come and pick us up on the Seadoo across the bay, then we’d go over to his side and have a barbeque, and then he’d bring us back and drop us off. The best image of my entire life is seeing Chris Walken on the back of a Seadoo. (Laughter.) It was awesome.

He just went back-and-forth, back-and-forth getting you all?
Yeah. Him and his assistant, they’d come up, and we’d come out of our little hotel with our backpacks on and our towels and out pants rolled up. We’d hop on the Seadoo, and off we’d go. It was great!

Why was he staying in a different place from you guys?
We were all sort of all over the place. Some people would be at the hotel, but there was this huge wedding at the hotel, so it was booked up. We were scattered all over the place.

A real wedding?
Mm-hm. A real wedding.

Nobody decided to crash that?

We talked about it: “It would be great research; they couldn’t blame us for trying.” (Laughs.) But we ultimately decided to behave because we still had to shoot the rest of the film.

Did you and Owen get along right off the bat?
Yeah. I mean, he’s such an easy going guy. He’s very honest; he is who he is. We just started to collaborate right away, and a lot of communication about the scenes. It was like hanging out on the beach, and going bike riding, and hanging out on a yacht. It wasn’t that hard.

What I like about those scenes with the two of you is that the movie gives those scenes enough time to be like a classic romantic comedy, where you two banter back and forth.

Yeah, it was nice. Sometimes with these movies, it’s just about the punch line, and it can become overwhelming. It’s almost like you miss something because it’s all about the punch line. So, it was nice to have some air to play in, and give the movie some heart. I think it has a lot of heart.

Are there any actors that you’d like to work with?
Many. Where do I even begin? Daniel Day-Lewis. I think that would be such an experience.

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