AP: Crashing Hollywood and taking the ‘Red Eye’ straight to stardom

Published: September 22, 2005

MEAN GIRLS may have been the coming out party for Lindsay Lohan, but considering Rachel McAdams’ red-hot career, some revisionist history may be in order.

McAdams, who portrayed the head of The Plastics (the hot girl high school clique) in 2004’s Mean Girls, has emerged as 2005’s most talked-about young actress. In the recent hit comedy Wedding Crashers, she plays Owen Wilson’s love interest.

The 28-year-old Canadian, who grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, has been on the rise since the romantic film The Notebook last summer. She won the MTV Movie Award for breakthrough female performance earlier this year.

In the upcoming Wes Craven thriller Red Eye, McAdams plays a woman held hostage – on an aeroplane – by Gillian Murphy, a rising star himself after 28 Days Later. Come fall, she’ll appear in The Family Stone with an ensemble cast including Diane Lane and Luke Wilson.

The Family Stone will give her another chance to try her mantra: “If you think it, the camera will see it.”

AP: Do you feel like the spotlight on you is getting brighter?
McAdams: Well, I did the promotion for Wedding Crashers and now for Red Eye and soon I’m going into promoting The Family Stone – I guess I’m realising that if you film for half a year, you’re going to do press for half a year. It seems like the appropriate amount of exposure.

AP: Are you caught off-guard by the quickness of it?
McAdams: It feels very new. There’s no training for this life. I think Toronto (where she lives now) helps keep me grounded. I try to do other things when I’m not working.

AP: Like what?
McAdams: I don’t do a lot; I’m pretty domesticated. I’ve started doing some gardening, but mostly it’s just spending time with friends and family.

AP: Do you feel any pull to move out to Los Angeles?
McAdams: In the beginning there was more of a push to move out there. Now it just feels like Toronto is working for me and I’ll stick with that.

AP: Was there any particular actor or movie that inspired you to get into movies?
McAdams: The first movie I ever saw was Peter Pan. Actually going to see it in the theatre was so riveting.

AP: You’ve said you like to ‘physicalise’ your performances – that being in motion makes you forget yourself. But in Red Eye you’re stuck in an aeroplane seat for much of the movie.
McAdams: That was what I was so drawn to- being in a confined kind of space and still have it dramatic. I just wanted to play with the idea that if you think it, the camera will see it. The evolution that happens in her life, I wanted to be able to express that without a lot of dialogue. I was scared. (Laughs.) And I knew I would have that pay-off at the end where I could take off and be in motion.

AP: Did you ever think you’d be head-butted in a movie, or head-butt someone yourself?
McAdams: I had hoped. I didn’t realise it would come so soon. We did stage combat at university and I was really shy and timid, but by the end of a year of beating this glove, you can really get into it. It’s quite enjoyable. I have a background in figure skating, so any kind of choreo-graphy doesn’t come too hard.

AP: Were you claustrophobic shooting in a fake aeroplane all day?
McAdams: Yeah, it was incredibly claustrophobic. It wasn’t as disconcerting as I thought it was going to be, but at the same time, it elevated the tension. I was literally stuck on the plane for 12 hours every day. And the cameras are really close to your face and Cillian is in really close proximity to me and I can’t get away.

AP: What kind of scripts are you getting now? Do you notice any kind of theme?
McAdams: There seems to be an overall theme to female roles in Hollywood: a lot of obvious parts like the wife, or the girlfriend. I’m trying to get away from that, which is why I loved Amy Stone (her character in The Family Stone). It’s a small part, a supporting role, but it’s so rich, not a typical character. So I’m just looking for any good character – I don’t care if they’re attractive people or not.

AP: Is there an actor or actress whose career you’d like to emulate?
McAdams: There are so many women that I admire and have learned so much from them – watching them work and the choices that they make. I guess I want to carve out my own path. But I love Elizabeth Taylor.

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