Huffington Post UK
Published: June 24, 2012
Rachel McAdams has found her big-screen niche as a very specific kind of fairytale heroine – a big-eyed beauty who can’t fail to bring out the protective side in her admirers, yet succeeds in keeping female fans on side, too. She could be a natural successor for the title of America’s sweetheart after a catalogue of hits – The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Notebook are the biggies – but she’s also displayed a comic turn – Sherlock Holmes, Morning Glory, Midnight in Paris.
This week sees the DVD release of The Vow, an unashamed weepy about a girl, Paige, who loves a boy, marries him, but loses her memory in a car crash and forgets she even knew him. Sounds completely unrealistic? It’s based on a true story. Here, McAdams explains what drew her in and, inevitably, her own views on romance (currently on the arm of British actor Michael Sheen, after high-profile romance with Notebook co-star Ryan Gosling)…
What attracted you to The Vow – I understand it’s loosely inspired by a true story?
I thought it was an incredible story, having actually happened to two people. The idea that this woman who had completely forgotten her husband – and that they found their way back to each other – was extraordinary. That really drew my attention. But I also really liked the character. I felt like I hadn’t played anything like this before.
It’s a very romantic film. Are you a romantic yourself?
I generally like movies that have some kind of love story in them… It doesn’t necessarily have to be your straight-ahead romantic relationship. But I do like movies that are about love. It’s what we’re all seeking and what we all want.
Do you cry when you watch them?
I can be quite surprised by what makes me cry… I like those kind of movies where it sort of sneaks up on you and it’s not necessarily what you thought would make you cry that makes you cry. But I do cry quite easily. Especially on aeroplanes. I think that’s an altitude thing (laughs)…
Do you have a fear of flying?
Maybe that’s it too. Maybe I’m just terrified (laughs)…I never used to. I don’t know if it’s coincidental, but I did start to have a fear of flying after I shot a movie where I was terrorised on a plane (Red Eye; 2005). I don’t think they’re linked, but it does make me pause and wonder if maybe they are. I’ll have to explore that in therapy some day!
Your character in the film is an artist. Are you creative in that way?
I’m not a sculptor or a painter or anything like that. I was a real jock growing up. So I was much more into sports and being physical and that sort of thing. I do like to garden and get my hands dirty though, if that’s an art (laughs)…
I understand you initially started out as a competitive figure skater?
Early on I loved skating but it wasn’t something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My parents always said: “Finish out this season and then if you don’t want to carry on, that’s fine. But you always have to finish what you’ve started.” That was really their only rule. When I said I wanted to go to theatre school, I’m sure they were terrified (laughs)… But they didn’t show it and they were completely supportive.
Do you still skate?
Actually I took Channing skating when he was in Toronto. And it was so funny because, I thought, oh well, you know, I’ll teach him a few moves. Mostly he taught me how to do hip-hop on ice (laughs)…
What was it like working with him?
He’s amazing. He makes coming to work such a pleasure. And he’s so much fun. He’s a little bit of a prankster, though. So I never quite knew what was coming next.
What exactly did he do?
What didn’t he do (laughs)… There was something every day. I’d find pylons in my trailer – you know these big construction pylons. Not the little ones that you see on the street; the big ones… huge traffic cones parked in the middle of my doorway. I’d just open my trailer and be like, “Ok, I’m going to need some help with this.” He also put a tree in my car one day.
I walked up to the car and there was a huge tree sticking out of the passenger seat. My driver was like, “I don’t know what happened. I was just sitting here and the next minute Channing was stuffing a tree in the car.” He’s a lot of fun. He doesn’t take anything too seriously. And yet he wears his heart on his sleeve. I think he’s a real romantic. He told Michael the director that he loves love and he brought that to the table every day.
What was the biggest challenge for you?
Because the film sort of works backwards – you know, you start with them in love and then it completely disappears for her – it was always a challenge to not lose my thread to Channing. That she’s trying and that there’s hope there. That was tricky.
Are you still living in Toronto?
I still live in Canada. I like living at home… it’s a great place to live. I don’t have to own a car – I never have – so I can just ride my bike around the city. It’s actually quite a small place, so I also find I have a real sense of community there. I don’t know… The longer I’m there, the less reasons I have to leave.
Do you have a favorite spot like the café we see in the movie?
No, I’m not really a creature of habit, so I tend to go all over the city. But funnily enough, that place where I waitress in the film is a place where I go and have breakfast sometimes.
What was it like filming Midnight in Paris? And please don’t say it was shot in Toronto.
(Laughs)… That’s very funny. Toronto is pretty, but… No, it was very much on location.
What was it like working with Woody Allen?
Fantastic. He’s very open [to] anything you want to talk about, if you have any ideas you want to throw out there. I know there’s all kinds of lore about Woody, but I found him endlessly hilarious. He’s a very, very funny person. Even when he’s not trying to be (laughs)… But yeah, I thought he was really lovely and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a dream job.