Canoe: All eyes on Rachel McAdams

Published: August 15, 2005

Canadian on a hot streak after Wedding Crashers.

HOLLYWOOD — It took horror king Wes Craven to rekindle Rachel McAdams’ darker side.

McAdams, 28, is best known as the nasty girl in Mean Girls, the romantic heroine of The Notebook and the girl who tames playboy Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers.

In Craven’s thriller Red Eye that opens Friday, McAdams plays a woman who becomes the pawn of an assassin played by Irish actor Cillian Murphy.

I was flattered out of my mind that Wes Craven even knew who I was. I was so excited he wanted me for Red Eye because the thriller is a genre I’ve never done before,” says McAdams.

Well at least not on screen.

Ironically one of the first plays I did when I was 12 was Woody Allen’s Death. I started this acting thing out in a dark moment and it took Wes to bring me back to those themes.”

McAdams who was born and raised in London, Ont., joined the city’s Original Kids Theatre Company when she was in elementary school.

We took classes during the school year and then went to summer drama camps. It was at the summer camp when I was 12 that we did Death.”

In retrospect it seems like an awfully strange play for children to be doing but it was a great experience for many reasons,” she recalls.

Not the least was that McAdams got to wear high heels for the first time. “I danced around my room in heels for hours. I felt so grown up.”

McAdams is talking heels because in Red Eye her character ends up running through a busy airport in high heels.

I tried out dozens of pairs before we found one that made the whole run look more precarious than it actually was.”

Far more precarious were the two scenes in which she is first head-butted by Murphy and then later retaliates by head-butting him. “Cillian was far more worried about the scenes than I was. He was so afraid he’d actually hurt me that we practised for hours the day we were set to film the head-butt on the plane.”

McAdams says she is thrilled that her character in Red Eye is an ordinary person who must call upon all her resources to thwart this killer who has targeted her and her father.

I was so relieved that she was not some sweaty, tank-top-wearing, Uzi-carrying super woman. I think it makes it easier for audiences to share her terror and fear.”

McAdams who was a brunette in Wedding Crashers and Red Eye is back to her blond look from The Hot Chick, Mean Girls and The Notebook. “I’ve not done this for a movie role. Going blond again is for me. I was born blond. More of a dishwater blond than this but still a blond.”

In Red Eye, McAdams’ character is a super efficient senior hotel employee.

She’s very much the woman I envisioned myself being when I was growing up.”

I always saw myself as a really efficient secretary. I loved the whole idea of paper clips, staplers and filing cabinets. The trouble was I was a terrible typist so that kind of sidelined that career. The arts were a much better route for me.”

McAdams admits her parents where “hesitant and worried for me but they were always very supportive. They are immensely happy for me that my career is doing so well.”

That’s a bit of an understatement. She is one of the stars of the hit summer comedy Wedding Crashers and shares top billing for Red Eye with Murphy, one of the stars of Batman Begins. “It’s definitely empowering to be in a string of hit movies. Mean Girls and The Notebook did very well and now Wedding Crashers is turning out to be one of the biggest successes of the summer. I finally feel somewhat in charge of my career. I’m getting to read some very interesting scripts.”

Her next outing is a role in the ensemble drama The Family Stone scheduled for release Nov. 4. “It’s never about line counts for me. It’s about the people I get to work with. In the case of The Family Stone that meant working with Diane Keaton. I went to the set when I wasn’t needed just to watch her work. It’s awe-inspiring. It was like sitting in on a master class in acting.”

McAdams still lives in Toronto, the city she says “feels like home. It’s where I feel most like Rachel McAdams. It’s where I can be myself.”

McAdams insists it’s not a even a casual relationship let alone a serious one that grounds her in Toronto. “Because my career is so intense, I hardly have time for ME these days.”

It wouldn’t be fair to enter into a serious relationship because that takes a lot of time, commitment and choice. I’ve chosen to be an actress and I’ve been given so many great opportunities that I owe it to myself to make acting my priority these days.”

She is quick to point out this doesn’t mean she’s “not open to love. If it happens that will be wonderful. I’ve definitely not closed the door on love.”

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