Chapter 4

Next: Chapter 5

The Filmmakers

The Filmmakers (2011-2014). After her return from her pause, Rachel was back in the spotlight and worked with acclaimed filmmakers, including Terrence Malick, Cameron Crowe and Brian de Palma.

  • But it is a gift as well, because great things come out of being lost and unsure, especially if you have a controlling side or a perfectionist side, which plenty of us do.– Rachel McAdams, The Telegraph (2013)
  • While Warner Bros confirmed Rachel’s return to the sequel of “Sherlock Holmes“, it was unclear for a while if she would really return and in what capacity. Early February 2011 we finally got official – and visual – confirmation that Rachel would return as Irene. After promotion “Morning Glory” around the globe, including in Europe early 2011, Rachel headed to Strasbourg, France in the first week of February were she reportedly filmed a cameo for Sherlock Holmes 2, which would later be retitled “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows“. She was photographed on-set alongside director Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. Additional principal photography took place mid-September 2011 in London were Rachel joined her co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It was clear from the very beginning of the filming process that Rachel would not return as leading lady, with co-star Noomi Rapace joining the cast and taking over the leading role. Producer Joe Silver revealed they had always plannend to a new leading actress for each movie. However, Rachel was eager to come back: “It was complicated getting [Rachel] to come back on board. She liked the experience [of the first film], she loved being with us, but she hoped to have a bigger role. I think at the end of the day it worked out fine (x).” Rachel herself really enjoys portraying the dynamic between Holmes and Adler: “Irene’s relationship with Sherlock can be quite playful—a cat and mouse game of who is going to admit their true feelings first—but there’s also drama and intrigue because you never know what she has up her sleeve. It was fun working with Guy [Ritchie] and Robert [Downey Jr.] to find just the right pitch of their love/hate relationship…like a well-choreographed dance (x).”

    Midnight in Paris” was the opening film of the acclaimed Cannes Film Festival in 2011, making it’s worldwide premiere on May 11, 2011 with the cast and filmmakers, including Rachel, attending the red carpet premiere. The movie had a limited release in the USA on May 20, 2011. The movie broke several records, including being 2011’s best opening weekend for a limited released. It also become Woody Allen’s highest grossing movie ever. The movie grossed over $150 million in the box office worldwide. The movie also received critical acclaim and was one of the big contenders during award season, including receiving a nomination for Best Picture during the Oscars. Rachel herself also received multiple nominations, including a Satellite Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination and she shared a Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture alongside her co-stars including Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates and Michael Sheen. Rachel responded to the acclaim of the movie by stating she was “so glad it’s doing so well (x)“. Rachel had to skip award season shows, including the Oscars because she was working on promoting two other projects (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows” & “The Vow”) and had to head to Berlin early 2012 to start filming a new project.

    Rachel attending the “Midnight in Paris” premiere at Cannes Film Festival in 2011. Rachel and Robert Downey Jr. in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”. Rachel & Channing Tatum promoting “The Vow” in 2012. Rachel on-set of “Passion” with director Brian de Palma. Rachel on-set of “A Most Wanted Man” in 2012.

    The anticipated “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows” was nationwide released on December 16, 2011 in the USA. Rachel returned as Irene Idler and attended the Los Angeles premiere. The movie came in #1 in it’s opening weekend, grossing over $39 million. The movie grossed close to $550 million in the box office worldwide. Rumors about a possible third installment soon appeared the years after. According to the most recent reports to day, the movie is still a “top priority” for Warner Bros.

    “I don’t really have a career plan. I just do things that speak to me. Sometimes you’re at a certain point in your life and it just makes sense, but if you’d read hat same script a year before it wouldn’t have even crossed your mind.”
    – Rachel McAdams, Cosmopolitan UK (2013)

    Mid-December 2011 the rumors about Rachel joining co-star Noomi Rapace in Brian de Palma’s “Passion” surfaced. The movie is a remake of the 2011 French psychodrama, “Crime d’Amour.” Principal photography began early March 2012 in Berlin. Rachel and Rapace previously co-starred in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows” and have shared the same management team. Rapace revealed she wanted to work with Rachel, “I really wanted to work with Rachel and I think she is fantastic and when Brian [de Palma] came with this to me and he mentioned Rachel it felt like: ‘Wow this can be such a dream senario’ because it’s quite unusual to be given that kind of gift of getting the opportunity to step into a relationship between two women that’s not going to be a cute relationship or just friend because they are so competitive and they are kind of raising the game and it’s kind of a deathly manipulative game between them (x).” de Palma adds that it was an advantage that Rachel and Rapace knew each other prior to filming: “Noomi Rapace is dangerous. She can be scary as Isabelle because you don’t know what goes on in that head of hers, and you believe she could kill somebody. Rachel McAdams is sexy and had great fun playing a very evil woman. Actresses don’t really like to play manipulative women like Christine, but Rachel went all out for it. Also, Noomi and Rachel had already worked together on ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and knew each other well enough to leave the comfort zone and venture in dangerous territory. They were unafraid to go anywhere with each other. Which makes their duo very dynamic and compelling to watch (x).” Rachel revealed she was pleasantly surprised when she found out de Palma wanted to cast her as Christine, “When I got the script and read it I thought I was playing the other character and then I talked to Brian [de Palma] and he said he wanted me to play Christine, which I thought was kind of exciting. I wouldn’t have thought of that, so I thought it was a great adjustment that he made. It works the other way too, but this makes it a bit edgier (x).”

    Early 2012 brought the release of “The Vow“. Rachel and co-star Channing Tatum began to promote the movie in Europe, including in London and Munich, before heading to the USA. The movie was released nationwide on February 10, 2012 taking advantage of Valentine’s weekend. The movie topped it’s opening weekend box office with over $41 million and grossed over 100 million only 3 weeks after it’s release. The movie broke multiple records, including breaking Tatum’s previous record for “Dear John”. It was also the first non-holiday weekend to feature four $20 million+ debuts! It was also a personal record for Rachel, because this was her fifth straight film to gross over $56 million (without including “Morning Glory“). The movie also seems on it’s way to becoming a fan favorite and received multiple fan-voted nominations including People’s Choice Award nomination for Favorite Dramatic Movie and Favorite On-Screen Chemistry and Teen Choice Awards nomination for Choice Movie Actress: Drama and Romance.

    It was reported in Mid-April 2012 that Rachel joined the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in “A Most Wanted Man“. Directed by Anton Corbijn and with screenplay by Andrew Bovell, based on the novel by John le Carre. Principal photography began on September 24, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany and continued until November 2012. Corbijn aknowledges that Rachel has an interesting combination when it comes to acting. He said: “Rachel has the potential to go darker and she still has incredible charm, so it was an interesting combinationShe’s a very charming person. You can see why she’s so successful with these roles (x).” Rachel was drawn to the project because of the theme of loneliness: “They [principal characters] are all people who are seeking out love, different kinds of love in different kinds of ways. Anton is focused on how they reach out to each other and the ways in which they choose to be alone (x).” Furthermore, Rachel saw the opportunity to challenge herself by playing Annabel Richting stating, “[It was] an opportunity to challenge myself, stretch myself, with complicated people and issues. I like that I still have questions. I’ve seen the movie and I was a part of it and I still wonder how I feel about it all and I think that’s very powerful and moving (x).” To prepare for her role, Rachel worked with a dialect coach. She also acknowledges that it’s helpful to film on-location in Germany. “It’s been so great to hear the German dialect 24/7 and be steeped in the culture and the place itself. That’s the beauty of shooting where the film is taking place and not having to pretend. It’s been a real advantage (x).”

    Mid-May 2012 it was reported that Rachel joined Domhnall Gleeson in “About Time” (2013). Zooey Deschanel was previously attached to play opposite Gleeson but had to leave the project due to other commitments. The filmmakers were not sure Rachel would be able to join the production, due to her busy schedule. Curtis recalls, “Rachel is someone, who every time I’ve seen her in a film, I have melted with this sense of comfort and love. We were certainly lucky to get her (x).” Rachel was drawn to the script and the opportunity to work with Curtis, “I enjoyed the script immensely and loved what it was about. It was quite moving with a very simple, but so meaningful moral of the story, and I loved all the characters. I knew that signing onto a Richard Curtis film was just a good package deal (x).” Another reason to sign on for Rachel was the rumors that this movie might be Curtis’ last directorial effort, “I’m such a fan of his, and I thought, ‘Well, this might be my only chance.’ So, I reached out to him for that reason, too. He’s an incredible person. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and he brings that to the film. I felt like we were living the film we were making (x).” Principal photography emerged a month later in London, on June 15, 2012 and the movie wrapped a month later on August 22, 2012. Prior to filming, Curtis took Gleeson and McAdams to the restaurant where their characters met for the first time in the movie. After working with Rachel, the filmmakers have nothing but praise. Curtis revealed he thinks Rachel should have gotten an Oscar for her performance in “The Notebook” while also considers her the greatest actress in the world: “I don’t think Rachel knows, but she is the greatest actress in the world. And I’ve told her that a few times. It was absolutely gorgeous and every scene it seems if though my lines were not necessary cause she just she just felt like what I wanted to say in the scene from the very beginning of the scene until the end (x).” Co-stars Gleeson agrees, commending “I already thought Rachel was amazing and then I met her and she was, so beforehand you go: ‘What? She’s the girl? I’m meant to be her boyfriend? Are we really going to try and sell that to an audience?’ You’re all self deprecating because that’s just the way people think. And then you meet her and you just feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world because that’s the way she is, she’s that good (x).” Bill Nighy also agrees and has high praise for Rachel, saying he thinks she is touched by genius: “I think she is probably perfect for any role. I think she is just, it’s a cliche, she is touched by genius. She does what Richard Curtis calls 360 degree acting. In other words: there is no wholes in it, you can’t get behind it. She comes apparently super prepared or maybe just instinctively brilliant and anything you require of her she just delivers without asking (x).” To prepare for his role and to build chemistry, co-star Gleeson asked Rachel to record audio for him so he would be able to listen to it. Prior to working together on “About Time”, Rachel and Mr. Curtis almost worked together on “Notting Hill”. Rachel revealed: “I turned down Notting Hill. He wasn’t directing it! (x)

    “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.”
    – Rachel McAdams, Huffington Post UK (2012)

    Late March 2013 Rachel was spotted in Boston with writer/director Cameron Crowe. A few weeks later, mid-April 2013, it was reported that Rachel was in talks to join Emma Stone and Bradley cooper in Cameron Crowe’s upcoming movie, which would later get retitled to “Aloha“. It was revealed in the making-off, of the movie that rehearsals took place in the Spring 2013 in Boston. This movie reunited Rachel and Bradley, who previously worked on “Wedding Crashers”. Director and writer Crowe praises Rachel, “Rachel brings such soul and depth and humanity Rachel is one of the very few actors that would give you that feeling of all of the real complexities that we have in thinking about the past, lost love, future love, and all the opportunities that are either lost or still ahead of you (x).” Co-star Emma Stone echoes the praise and said she was starstruck when she met Rachel for the first time. Stone gushed about Rachel, saying “Rachel McAdams is working on the movie I’m working on now and I’ve seen her in like every movie. I have to see her this week so I hope she doesn’t ever see this [online interview], because I’m nervous around her, because I think she’s great (x).” Rachel revealed that the script attracted her to the movie. She said: “I just loved the script and thought it was like nothing I had ever come across before. My character Tracy was a complicated woman with lots on her plate, at a very important time in her life. So it’s very rich and colorful and I love how Cameron writes women (x).” Co-star John Krasinski, who plays her husband in the movie, was also very excited to work with Rachel. He commended: “I couldn’t be more excited to work with anybody. I think she is one of the most talented people out there and I love every single thing she has done. She’s truly a remarkable actress.” While working with Rachel, she even exceeded his very high expectations, he added: “When you actually get in a scene with her, you realize that your understanding of how good she is was off by huge leaps of mounts, because she is so much better. She’s so incredibly real and subtle and so perfectly in tone in every single way. It’s also sort of jarring, because you realize you have to bring your A-Game.” Rachel was also looking forward to working with Bradley Cooper again. Years before this, Rachel and Cooper were reportedly attached to star in another movie titled “Honeymoon with Harry” but that never got the green light. She praised Cooper for the energy he brings to set, “It’s such a wonderful thing to work with Bradley because he has so much passion, not just for his character but for the whole film and the whole process. He approaches every scene like he wants it to be the best scene ever filmed, ever. He has such energy, enthusiasm and generosity (x).” The admiration was mutual, Cooper said he knew they would have great chemistry based on their previous experience. “I always thought it’s so easy to work with her. She’s so present and it only got stronger after then years. I think she’s the perfect Tracy. I think it’s a role people haven’t seen her do (x).” Principal photography began in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 26, 2013 and wrapped up filming on late December of the same year. Filming in Hawaii was on Rachel’s bucket list and she really enjoyed spending time on the different islands, “Hawaii was incredible, I had a small part and I was there for a long time, it was a dream job and I got to go to three of the four islands, so that was really phenomenal (x).” Taking on Tracy was a bit daunting at first for Rachel, because Cameron Crowe had this character in his head for a long time. She said: “It was just a very rich and colorful character, and I love how Cameron writes women. I knew Tracy had been in his head a long time, so there was a little bit of pressure to get where he saw her going, but at the same time it was a wonderful challenge (x).”

    Early June 2013 it was announced Rachel joined the voice cast of “The Little Prince“. The adaptation of the French classic is directed by Mark Osborse. Also joining the cast were James Franco, Jeff Bridges, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro and Paul Giamatti. Rachel previously worked with Marion Cotillard on “Midnight in Paris”. Rachel started to do first recordings in the late summer/early fall of 2013. Production took place in Paris, France and Montreal, Canada. This marks the first time Rachel was part of an animated voice-cast, “I was so excited to be part of this movie, and I loved ‘Kung Fu Panda’, so I knew our director Mark [Osborne] was going to do a wonderful job with the adaptation. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to animation (x).” Early in the production process, Rachel expressed her excitement: “I’m really excited about it. We’re just starting out so I’ve seen some of the animation and it’s just so beautiful. It’s a little bit of a modernisation but it’s got tons of tributes to the book and to the drawings and to the world we expect the Little Prince to be. I love the messages in it – those are really strong and I think it will appeal to both adults and kids at the same time. I’m so looking forward to it (x).”

    One June 13, 2013 Rachel was inducted in St. Thomas’ Timken Centre Wall of Fame as the third recipient to be featured on the wall of achievement. Rachel made a surprise appearance and was able to accept her induction in person because voice-over for “The Little Prince” got pushed back by a week. Her parents Lance and Sandra McAdams were also in attendance as well as her high school teachers Linda Maskell Pereira and Christopher Pereira. During her speech, Rachel spoke about how much her hometown means to her, the place were she learned to skate, where her father taught her how to drive, and where her interested sparked for acting. She said: “At the end of the day it’s very clear to me that this place has played such a huge part, not only in my career, but my entire life. St. Thomas has such an incredibly huge heart. People don’t get anywhere on their own in this world. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without St. Thomas. St. Thomas is the place that taught me how to dream. Now, when I dream about home, I dream of here (x).” Afterwards Rachel revealed that she was more nervous accepting this than when she attended the Oscars: “There [at the Oscars] it’s just sort of a sea of faces. You know all the people from TV or film, but these are the people who – you know, I really care what their opinion is. And I was feeling really emotional. I mean, the Oscars isn’t really emotional, I guess, unless you win one (x).”

    Rachel on-set of “About Time” with director Richard Curtis. Rachel on-set of “Aloha” with co-star Emma Stone. Rachel attending the “About Time” premiere in London in 2013. Rachel photographed during Sundance alongside “A Most Wanted Man” co-stars and director Anton Corbijn.

    Late August 2013 Rachel joined James Franco, Robert Naylor, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marie-Josee Croze in “Every Thing Will Be Fine“. Directed by Wim Wenders with a script penned by Bjørn Olaf Johannessen. This would reunite Franco and Rachel, who were both part of the voice-cast of the previously announced animated feature film, “The Little Prince”. Wenders revealed he casted Rachel based on her work in “To The Wonder” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife“, he said: “In both films, Rachel radiates an enormously positive energy which is also a wonderful quality for the role of Sara. Such characters are so rare in cinema! With them you get the feeling that everything they do is destined for good. They have this natural self-confidence and simply ‘a good heart’ (x).” Rachel revealed she joined the movie because she wanted to work with Wenders, “I love Wim [Wenders] and I love his films and his sensibility. I think he makes art for art’s sake and that’s very hard to find sometimes. I was just really thrilled that he offered me the part and I thought it was a really interesting film (x).” Principal photography began Mid-August 2013 in Montreal and finished a few months later in Mid-September before the winter break. Principal photography of the winter scenes continued early 2014. The movie marked the first time Rachel was part of a 3D feature film. However, according to Rachel the 3D filming process was not different compared to 2D. She said: “It wasn’t unlike regular filming. The cameras were a little bit different and you can’t do a lot of movement, but this film doesn’t lend itself to that anyway. I appreciated that in a way because you came to the set and Wim would have done the choreography. I found that quite liberating because you could focus on the intense emotions that you are trying to go for. I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of 3D because I always found it takes me out of the film. But then I saw “Pina“, which changed my whole theory that you should only see dance live and never on a flat screen (x).” To prepare for the part, Rachel suggested doing a French Candian accent which helped her prepare for her part, “Wim was very open to do a slight French Canadian accent which was great because it can inform the character so much. There’s a certain sensibility that comes with that (x).”

    About Time” was released on September 4, 2013 in the UK and topped the box office in it’s opening weekend. The movie premiered in the USA during the New York Film Festival on October 1, 2013 and was released a month later in limited theaters on November 1, 2013. The movie grossed over $87 million worldwide. The movie was well received and gathered mostly positive reviews. The movie seems to be on it’s way to becoming another fan favorite. It won the audience award during the San Sebastián International Film Festival. The movie was also nominated for Best Film during the New York Film Festival.

    A Most Wanted Man” premiered during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2014. Rachel and co-stars Grigoriy Dobrygin, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Willem Dafoe and director Anton Corbijn attended the premiere. Rachel would make her red carpet Sundance debut during at the festival’s premiere. This would mark the last public appearance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed a few weeks later on February 2, 2014. Rachel considered him one her favorite actors, prior to working with him. Rachel had nothing but praise for her late co-star, commending: “There was so much electricity in every scene he was in (x).” She added, “[the scenes with Hoffman] were really great (x).”

    Mid-May 2014 it was announced that Rachel was circling to star in “Southpaw” (2015) alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker with Antoine Fuqua set to direct. Naomie Harris boarded the project a few weeks later, replacing Nyong’o. To prepare for the role, Rachel, Gyllenhaal and director Fuqua attended the Miguel Cotto Vs. Sergio Martinez Fight Mid-June 2014. Principal photography officially began a week later in Pittsburgh, on June 16, 2014 and the movie wrapped up Mid-August.

    “I’m not really a creature of habit, I like trying everything out.”
    – Rachel McAdams, Metro UK (2014)

    A Most Wanted Man” was released on July 25, 2014 in the USA before being released nationwide on August 1, 2014. The movie had a solid opening, which was the second-highest number in its history in absolute terms for the distributors. The movie received critical acclaim. It was also included in National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films. Rachel also received praise from critics. Award Circuit critic Clayton Davis called Rachel’s performance magnificent work, commending “One of the pleasant surprises is the beautiful and talented Rachel McAdams, which immediately makes you think, ‘where has she been?’ While she has been making her rounds in independent films like Passion, About Time, and To the Wonder, her role as Annabel shows a deeper talent that is aching to be realized by the right director. Internalizing emotions and releasing only when called upon, McAdams turns in her one of her strongest turns yet. Not your A-typical ‘damsel in distress” or u’nbelievable tough chick,’ McAdams reinvents a character that could have just laid on the screen with no emotion. She relaxes herself into the role, working well off some of the screen’s most gifted performers. It’s a magnificent work (x).” Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan praised Rachel’s performance by stating it was “completely convincing (x).”

    On August 6, 2014 Rachel and her sister Kayleen were featured in an episode of the genealogy docu-series Who Do You Think You Are? in the USA. During the episode Rachel and Kayleen went on and discovered their Canadian heritage. They discovered an English ancestor who lived and worked in a privileged world. Kayleen called the experience a “life changing adventure (x)“. During the episode, Rachel acknowledges feeling grateful: “I just feel so grateful that I was able to do this with Kayleen. One of the things I love so much about having a sister is that we get to keep memories alive for each other. It’s strengthened our bond and our bond to our family (x).” She added: “Now I feel like we have to much more to give to our children and I really hope that we can keep these stories alive as long as possible.”

    Mid-September 2014 it was announced that Rachel was one of the inductees of the 2014 Canada’s Walk Of Fame induction gala. The other inductees were actor Ryan Reynolds, musicians The Band, hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, former UN high commissioner for human rights Louise Arbour, and the late musician Jeff Healey. Melanie Hurley, CEO of Canada’s Walk of Fame, said: “Each have impacted Canada’s social and cultural heritage across the country and around the world. They are inspiring and remind us that anything can be achieved with hard work, dedication, passion and integrity. They are ambassadors of Canada and instill pride in our country (x).” On October 18, 2014 Rachel attended the induction gala in Toronto, alongside her family and friends. “Aloha” co-star and fellow Canadian Jay Baruchel introduced Rachel during the ceremony. Co-stars Channing Tatum and Ben Affleck and filmmakers Cameron Crowe and Wim Wenders were among the people featured in Rachel’s tribute. During her acceptance speech, Rachel thanked the Canada Walk of Fame for including her in “this incredible illustrious list (x)” and expressed how honored she felt: “[I am] honored beyond words to be counted among these people, many of whom I’ve looked up to my entire life.” During her speech she thanked people who impacted her life with their “unwavering support” throughout her life, including the Original Kids Theatre Company at Alma College, St. Thomas, her first acting teacher Jim Schaefer (“A man who thought that imagination is all you need to call yourself an actor. It’s a simple, elegant but crucial lessons I have carried with me, always [x]“), her teachers Christopher Pereira and Linda Maskell, York University (“I received an education that I literally draw on every day, still [x]“), her manager Shelley Browning, her friend Duane Murray (“Thank you for being there with me trough all the high and lows. You are one of the most patient, generous and wisest people I know [x]“) and her family (“For always keeping my feet on the ground, even when my head was in the stars. For teaching me to climb though the rocks be rockets. Thank you very much, you are everything to me [x]“).

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