USA Today: Hot off ‘The Notebook’ ; Young Rachel McAdams making an exclamation point

USA Today
Published: June 25, 2004

Let all those starlet wannabes heave their overflowing cleavage or flaunt their taut tummies to attract attention.

Rachel McAdams is able to flash a more demure if no less dazzling physical asset: a killer set of dimples.

She shyly accepts the compliment. “I’ll tell my parents,” replies the Canadian-born actress, 25, whose budding film career is about to burst into full bloom. “Although I don’t look much like either one of them. Maybe dimples skip a generation.”

They’re being put to good use here on the set of The Wedding Crashers as she beams at Owen Wilson, whose womanizing bachelor pursues her after barging in on her sister’s marriage ceremony in the comedy due next year. McAdams, who once was a competitive figure skater (“a fairly ruthless sport in terms of time and energy“), proves to be highly coordinated. In take after take, she manages to flirt with Wilson and catch a football at the same time without sacrificing a single nail or losing her brunette wig.

Wilson, for one, is impressed. “She’s one of the best girls I’ve ever worked with,” he says. “She can make anything sound believable. And she’s easy on the eyes, so that helps, too.”

The dimples barely registered, however, during this year’s hit Mean Girls. Her high school highness Regina is more prone to sneers than smiles as she stings lesser beings with her pseudo-sweet retorts.

But those cheeky indentations are front and center in The Notebook, a heartbreaking Hallmark card of a World War II-era romance that opens today. She lets loose with a lightning storm of emotions sparked by a young girl’s first love in the movie based on Nicholas Sparks’ best seller.

As spirited Southern belle Allie, whose high-society parents disapprove of her blue-collar beau (Ryan Gosling), McAdams will have you laughing at her antics. At one point, she smashes an ice cream cone into Gosling’s face and then proceeds to slurp up the damage. When she feverishly embraces him, it is no mere hug but a full body wrap, legs included.

But her reactions as she evolves from headstrong teen to confused bride-to-be also have the power to move you to Kleenex.

McAdams was determined to play Allie, describing her as “a wild child” who “gobbles up life and can’t get enough of it.”

I thought it would be a dream to be able to do it,” she says. “I read the script and went into the audition just two days later. It was a good way to do it, because I was very full of the story.”

She did her homework before heading to Charleston, S.C., for the shoot. “There are volumes and volumes written about the Southern woman. She is quite a force to be reckoned with.”

Though McAdams is averse to divulging details about her personal life, the single actress understands what Allie is going through even if the events unfold at least a half-century ago.

I can relate to first love,” she says. “You never forget it. It changes who you are more often than not.”

Who she is at the moment is a rising star, one who even is in the running for the plum part of superhero Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) in Fantastic Four. David Dobkin, the director of The Wedding Crashers, considers himself lucky to have snagged McAdams for her first post- Notebook role.

I can’t tell you enough about how talented this girl is,” says the filmmaker, who looked at “every actress on the planet, even Oscar winners,” before choosing her.

So far, McAdams, who attended a summer theater camp in her teens and studied acting at Toronto’s York University, has done more comedy than drama, though that wasn’t her original plan. She was nominated for a supporting Genie (Canada’s version of the Oscar) for 2002’s Pretty Pie, a poignant study of female friendships. That same year, McAdams had the title role in her first Hollywood feature, The Hot Chick, a silly body-switch farce.

Once she is done filming The Wedding Crashers and stops living out of a suitcase, McAdams will have a chance to return home to Toronto. “I’d like to stay in Canada,” she says. “It helps to have the distance. It puts work in its place. It’s been great to develop friendships in Los Angeles and to have a community there. But Canada’s home.”

And The Notebook is likely to assure she has a second home — on screen.

© 2004 USA Today | Written by Susan Wloszczyna | No copyright infringment intended.

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