The Star: Rachel McAdams on taking the wheel — and driving for change in Hollywood

The Star
Published: February 22, 2018

Game Night star and ‘a little bit of a lead foot’ talks to Peter Howell about elusive comic roles, sexual harassment in Hollywood and biking ‘like a maniac’ around Toronto.

The screwball comedy/thriller Game Night represents not only a comic turn for Canada’s Rachel McAdams, but also some serious road manoeuvres, too.

She’s long ago proven her comedy chops — Mean Girls, anyone? — but lately she’s been pursuing serious dramatic roles: investigative reporter in Oscar-winning Spotlight, ace surgeon in Marvel blockbuster Doctor Strange, dedicated cop in TV’s True Detective. Come spring, she’ll be paired with Rachel Weisz in Disobedience, a love story defined by the movie’s title.

Game Night, which pairs her with Jason Bateman and other funny people, gave her a chance to go for some laughs.

“I love doing comedies, but they just don’t come along as often as the other things, or at least ones that are unique,” McAdams, 39, says from Los Angeles.

The London, Ont.-born actress also got to demonstrate in Game Night that years of driving “like a maniac” on the streets of Toronto and L.A. weren’t wasted (she spends summer here, winters there).

McAdams is behind the wheel of the getaway car in an action scene with Bateman and Kyle Chandler and she actually did much of the driving. Maybe she has a future career as a stunt driver?

“I know!” McAdams agrees, laughing.

“I actually said that to the (production) guys at one point: ‘Geez, I’m a really good driver! Should we acknowledge that I’m driving like a stunt driver?’ Because it was a stunt driver, for some of it. And they said, ‘Nope, that hasn’t come up in any of the (preview) testing. No one’s ever mentioned that.’ But you’re right . . . I’m a superhuman driver!”

You say you enjoy comic roles, but you end up doing a lot of dramatic ones. Do you prefer drama over comedy?
I kind of like jumping back and forth. I feel like that keeps things interesting, keeps me on my toes. I went straight into Game Night from Disobedience, a very dramatic serious film and role, so this was kind of the antidote to that, I suppose. But I’m not a comedian, so (comic roles) don’t come my way every day.

And how about driving? Do you really, really enjoy that, too?
Hah-hah! You know, I love driving! I’m kind of an aggressive driver, from driving in Toronto and also L.A. I have a little bit of a lead foot. My family would probably say I’m a terrible driver, but my record says I’m a great driver. So, I’m going to say I’m a good driver.

What kind of car do you drive?

Funnily enough, I’ve never actually owned a car. I’ve always rented. I sort of drive my bike like a maniac around Toronto. That’s my vehicle of choice . . . I’ve been riding my bike around Toronto for like 15 years, 20 years, and I look back and think, I’m surprised I’m still here! But I love the thrill of biking in Toronto. It really gets your heart pumping.

On a more serious note, you’ve been among the many women to speak up about sexual harassment in the movie industry. You told Vanity Fair last fall about a predatory experience with filmmaker James Toback, during an audition for his film Harvard Man in Toronto nearly 20 years ago. Do you expect to speak out more as the #MeToo movement continues?
I don’t have a lot to say. I spoke about the thing that I have direct experience with, but I don’t want to go outside the parameters of what I know to be true . . . that felt empowering to me.

But it’s important to keep talking about (sexual harassment), to keep bringing it out into the light. And I definitely have seen changes. I have a friend who works in the industry and she actually works in a department that deals with sexual harassment. She has really noticed a change in just how open and receptive people are, and she no longer has to explain what’s she’s doing there or what her job title is. She’s not fighting as much to get people on board. So it’s just a drastic change in a very short period of time. I do think the needle’s definitely moving.

Canadian journalists always make a point of referring to you as being Canadian and coming from London, Ont. How do you feel about that?
I hope that never goes away. I hope to never not live in Canada. I could never stay away for very long without feeling completely untethered and homesick. I hope I’ll always be considered Canadian, and that I won’t embarrass my country too much, so they want to keep me on their side!

This interview was edited and condensed.  

© 2018 The Star | Written by Peter Howell | No copyright infringment intended.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *