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Rachel McAdams bio
Rachel McAdams (born November 17, 1978) is a Canadian Actress. After graduating from a four-year theatre program at York University in 2001, she initially worked in Canadian television and film productions such as the drama film Perfect Pie (2002) (for which she received a Genie Award nomination), the comedy film My Name Is Tanino (2002), and the comedy mini-series Slings and Arrows (for which she won a Gemini Award). In 2002, she made her Hollywood film debut in the comedy The Hot Chick. McAdams found fame in 2004, appearing in the comedy Mean Girls and the romantic drama The Notebook. In 2005, she starred in the romantic comedy Wedding Crashers, the psychological thriller Red Eye, and the family comedy-drama The Family Stone. She was hailed by the media as Hollywood’s new “it girl”, and received a BAFTA nomination for Best Rising Star.
After a two-year career break, McAdams appeared in two limited release films in 2008; the film noir Married Life and the road trip comedy-drama The Lucky Ones. She returned to prominence in 2009 by appearing in the political thriller State of Play, the science-fiction romantic drama The Time Traveler’s Wife and the mystery/action-adventure film Sherlock Holmes. In 2010, McAdams appeared in her first star vehicle, the comedy Morning Glory. In 2011, she starred in Woody Allen’s romantic comedy Midnight in Paris and reprised her role in the mystery/action-adventure sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. She next starred in the romantic drama The Vow (2012), and shortly after starring in the romantic comedy About Time. In 2015, she starred as Ani Bezzerides in season two of HBO’s anthology crime drama True Detective, and as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight.
2001–05: Early work
In 2001, McAdams made her television debut in the MTV pilot Shotgun Love Dolls as Beth Swanson, that was filmed during spring break from York University. She also made her Canadian film debut that year in the comedy My Name is Tanino. The Italian–Canadian co-production was filmed in Sicily and it marked her first time on an airplane when she was 22 years old. McAdams later earned a Genie Award nomination in her native Canada for her role as a teenage version of Wendy Crewson’s character in the drama Perfect Pie. In 2002, she made her Hollywood film debut in the comedy The Hot Chick with R&B Schneider and Anna Faris which McAdams has described as a “huge milestone” in her career. She played a catty high school student who swaps bodies with Schneider’s character, a small-time criminal. The Los Angeles Times felt she “emerges as a young Actress of much promise” while the Daily Mail described McAdams and Faris as “talents to watch, but they are let down by everything around them”. The film grossed $54 million worldwide. Afterwards, McAdams returned to Canada to star as Kate McNeil in the comedy mini-series Slings and Arrows about backstage theatre life at the fictional New Burbage Shakespearean Festival. She was written out of the second season of the program following her success in the United States. She received two Gemini Award nominations for her work on the program, with one win.
2004–05: Breakthrough acting
McAdams’ breakout role came in 2004, when she starred in the comedy film Mean Girls with Lindsay Lohan, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried, directed by Mark Waters and was based on Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes. McAdams was 25 years old at the time she was cast as Regina George, the frenemy of Lohan’s character Cady Heron and the meanest and popular queen bee in the school, and she modelled her character from Alec Baldwin’s performance in the 1992 drama Glengarry Glen Ross. USA Today praised her “comic flair” while The Daily Telegraph found her “delightfully hateful”. The San Francisco Chronicle felt that “McAdams brings glamour and magnetism to Regina, but also the right hint of comic distance.” The film grossed $129 million worldwide and earned McAdams two MTV Movie Awards. Mean Girls later reached No. 12 in an Entertainment Weekly list of the Greatest Ever High School Movies. Tina Fey, who co‑starred in the film and wrote the screenplay, has credited McAdams with teaching her how to act in front of a camera rather than an audience: “She’s a film actor. She’s not pushing. And so I kind of learned that lesson from watching her.”
Afterwards in 2004, McAdams starred opposite fellow Canadian Ryan Gosling in the romantic drama The Notebook directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on Nicholas Sparks’s novel of the same name. She played Allie Hamilton, a wealthy southern belle who has a forbidden love affair with Gosling’s character Noah Calhoun, a poor laborer. McAdams spent time in Charleston, South Carolina prior to filming to familiarize herself with the southern accent she used, and took ballet and etiquette classes. Filming took place from late 2002 to early 2003. Although McAdams and Gosling became romantically involved in 2005, they had a combative relationship on set. “We inspired the worst in each other”, Gosling has said. “It was a strange experience, making a love story and not getting along with your co-star in any way.” At one point, Gosling asked Cassavetes to “bring somebody else in for my off-camera shot” because he felt McAdams was being uncooperative. The New York Times praised the “spontaneous and combustible” performances of the two leads while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times was won over by the “beauty and clarity” of McAdams’s performance. The Chicago Tribune declared her “a real discovery” who “infuses young Allie with that radiant, breathlessly winning ingénue grace and charm that breaks hearts”. The film grossed over $115 million worldwide. McAdams won an MTV Movie Award and four Teen Choice Awards. Entertainment Weekly has said that the movie contains the All-Time Best Movie Kiss while the Los Angeles Times has included a scene from the film in a list of the 50 Classic Movie Kisses. The Notebook has appeared on many Most Romantic Movies lists. “I’m so grateful to have a film that people respond to in that way”, McAdams told Elle in 2011. “It was a big deal”.
In 2005, McAdams starred in the romantic comedy Wedding Crashers with Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Bradley Cooper. McAdams played the daughter of an influential politician, who is caught in a love triangle with Wilson and Cooper’s characters. McAdams listened repeatedly to Fleetwood Mac’s 1975 song “Landslide” to prepare for emotional scenes and Wilson has said the song made her cry immediately: “It was like turning on a faucet”. She trained for a sailing certification for a boating sequence because her character was said to be an accomplished sailor. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times felt McAdams “makes the most of her underdeveloped character” and “grows more appealing with every new role”. Variety found her “a beguiling presence” who “actually creates a real character – a rarity for females in one of these lad-mag escapades”. From a production budget of $40 million, the film grossed over $285 million worldwide.
Afterwards, McAdams starred opposite Cillian Murphy in Wes Craven’s thriller Red Eye where she played a young hotel manager who is held captive by Murphy’s character while aboard a red-eye flight. Craven has said McAdams was the only Actress he considered for the part. She was drawn to the relatable qualities of her character: “She was not some sweaty, tank-top-wearing, Uzi-carrying super woman”. Variety found her “increasingly impressive” while Roger Ebert asserted that “she brings more presence and credibility to her role than is really expected; she acts without betraying the slightest awareness that she’s inside a genre. Her performance qualifies her for heavy-duty roles.” Upon release, the film, which was made on a budget of $26 million, earned over $95 million at the worldwide box office.
In late-2005, McAdams starred in the seasonal family comedy-drama The Family Stone alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton and Paul Schneider, which gave McAdams an opportunity to play a disheveled and sardonic sister, rather than the usual “obvious” girlfriend or wife roles. She was eager to work with Keaton and remarked, “It’s never about line counts for me. It’s about the people I get to work with.” Variety noted that “a deglammed but still radiant McAdams proves once again that she’s the real deal, delivering a deliciously feisty performance”. The New York Times felt that her “engaging screen presence holds your attention and sympathy despite the handicap presented by her character’s personality.” The film was a commercial success: it cost $18 million to make and grossed over $92 million worldwide.
2006–08: Career break and low-profile return
At this point in her career, McAdams was hailed as “the next Julia Roberts” and the new “Hollywood it girl”. Vanity Fair invited McAdams, along with actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley, to appear on its March 2006 cover, the annual Hollywood issue. Upon arrival on the photo set, McAdams discovered it was a nude session, declined and left. She later parted ways with her publicist at the time, who had not informed her in advance. Knightley later recounted, “Quite early on Rachel just said, ‘No, I’m not into that.’ She’s a lovely girl, and I really respect her for doing that.” When asked about the incident in 2008, McAdams had “no regrets”.McAdams took a break from her film career from 2006 to 2007. “There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, a lot of voices around me, and I wanted to step away so I could hear my own voice again”, McAdams said in 2013. “Truthfully, I never really wanted to be a big movie star. I never even wanted to work outside of Canada, or outside of the theatre.” During that period, McAdams turned down roles in the films The Devil Wears Prada, Casino Royale, Mission: Impossible III and Get Smart. In February 2006, she made a one-off stage appearance in The Vagina Monologues at St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto to raise funds for V page’>V-Day. That same year, McAdams received a Rising Star Award nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and hosted the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement.
McAdams returned to her film career in 2008 and starred in the 1940s film noir Married Life with Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper where she played Kay Nesbitt, a young widow who wins the affections of Brosnan and Cooper’s older characters. In preparation for the role, McAdams studied old films, particularly those of Kim Novak. She has said the film shoot reenergized and re-inspired her and made her eager to continue working more often again. Entertainment Weekly found McAdams “a particularly delightful vision after her two-year intermission”. Variety criticized her break from the big screen but felt that, despite a performance of “tender feeling”, “her natural vivaciousness and spontaneity are straightjacketed” by the film noir format. The film had a limited release and was a box-office failure. It grossed just over $2 million worldwide, failing to recoup its production budget of $12 million.
Afterwards, McAdams starred in the road trip comedy-drama The Lucky Ones with Tim Robbins and Michael Peña, a story about three Iraq War soldiers on a brief road trip back in the United States. She trained at a real boot camp, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, prior to filming. In 2011, McAdams said that Colee Dunn was “probably one of my favorite characters I’ve ever played”. The film also had a limited release and The New York Times found her “luminous as always” while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times hailed the performance as “her coming of age as an Actress“. “Previously she has been seen mostly as a hot chick or an idealized sweetheart”, he wrote. “Here she is feisty, vulnerable, plucky, warm, funny … Watch the poignancy of the scene when she meets her boyfriend’s family.” Entertainment Weekly found her “feisty, gorgeous, and as mercurial as a mood ring”. The Lucky Ones is the least commercially successful film of McAdams’s career as of 2012, having grossed just $266,967 worldwide.
2009–12: Return to mainstream studio films
In 2009, McAdams starred with Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren, and Ben Affleck in the political thriller State of Play, based on the BBC drama television series of the same name. McAdams played Della Frye, an online reporter who investigates a possible conspiracy with Crowe’s character, a veteran print journalist. McAdams visited The Washington Post’s offices and met with politicians on Capitol Hill for her research. Entertainment Weekly felt she was “perfectly cast as an ambitious wonkette” while The Daily Telegraph noted that “McAdams, with her lively eyes and large, expressive forehead, holds her own against Crowe. Mercifully, she avoids any temptation to play girly and demure to his grizzled alpha male.” The film grossed over $87 million worldwide.
Also in 2009, McAdams starred opposite Eric Bana in the science fiction romantic drama The Time Traveler’s Wife, based on Audrey Niffenegger’s best-selling novel of the same name. McAdams fell “madly in love” with the novel but was initially slightly hesitant to accept the role because Clare Abshire, the long-suffering wife is a “character that people have already cast in their heads”. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said, “I’d watch the vibrant Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana in anything, but The Time Traveler’s Wife is pushing it.” The Los Angeles Times found her “luminous (yet), sadly, her facility as an Actress is mostly wasted.” Writing in The Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips, in an otherwise tepid review, said of her performance: “Every scene she’s in, even the silly ones, becomes better—truer, often against long odds—because she’s in it. Her work feels emotionally spontaneous yet technically precise. She has an unusually Easy Touch with both comedy and drama, and she never holds a melodramatic moment hostage.” The film was a commercial success, earning over $101 million worldwide.
In late 2009, McAdams starred in the mystery/action-adventure film Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. She played Irene Adler, an antagonist and love interest of Downey’s title character Sherlock Holmes, and welcomed the opportunity to play a character who is “her own boss and a real free spirit”. Variety felt her character was “not very well integrated into the rest of the story, a shortcoming the normally resourceful McAdams is unable to do much about”. The New York Times stated, “Ms. McAdams is a perfectly charming Actress and performs gamely as the third wheel of this action-bromance tricycle. But Irene feels in this movie more like a somewhat cynical commercial contrivance. She offers a little something for the ladies and also something for the lads, who, much as they may dig fights and explosions and guns and chases, also like girls.” The film was a major commercial success, earning over $524 million at the worldwide box office.
In 2010, McAdams starred with her The Family Stone co-star Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford in the comedy Morning Glory directed by Roger Michell, where she played a television producer attempting to improve the poor ratings of a morning television program. The film was billed as a starring vehicle for McAdams. She initially felt she was unsuited to the role saying, “I’m not funny. So I said, ‘if you need me to be funny, you might want to look somewhere else'”. Michell had a number of dinners with McAdams and persuaded her to join the cast. Since working with Keaton, McAdams has described her as a mentor figure. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said McAdams “gives the kind of performance we go to the movies for” while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt she played “as lovable a lead as anyone since Amy Adams in Junebug” in an otherwise “routine” movie. The New York Post was impressed by “her gift for physical comedy”, as was Variety. While the New York Times felt she “plays her role exceptionally well” and is “effortlessly likable”, it called on Hollywood to give her parts “worthy” of her talent. “Ms. McAdams has to rely on her dimples to get by. She does, but she could do better.” The film was a modest commercial success, grossing $58 million worldwide from a production budget of $40 million. McAdams was disappointed that the film failed to find a larger audience, remarking that “I only hear these businesspeople: ‘Well, no one was sure who it was for.'”In 2011, McAdams starred in Woody Allen’s fantasy romantic comedy Midnight in Paris with her Wedding Crashers co-star Owen Wilson and Michael Sheen. The film opened the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. McAdams played Inez, the shrewish fiancée of Wilson’s character Gil. Allen wrote McAdams’ part for her, after hearing “glowing reports” from his friend and her former co-star Diane Keaton. He said that he was “crazy about Rachel” and wanted to give her the opportunity to play something other than “beautiful girls”. The film was shot on location in Paris and McAdams has said that the experience “will always have a great place in my heart.” The Guardian criticized that she “has morphed from the sweet thing in Wedding Crashers to the dream-crushing bitch that, according to American comedies, women become once they ensnare their man”. Richard Corliss of Time “felt sorry for McAdams, whose usually winning presence is ground into hostile cliché”. However, the Los Angeles Times felt she “deftly handles a part that is less amiable than usual for her” and The New York Times found her “superbly speeded-up”. It became Allen’s highest grossing film ever in North America and was the most commercially successful independent film of 2011. With a production budget of $17 million, the film has grossed over $151 million worldwide. McAdams, along with six other members of the cast, received a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture nomination. Allen won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the film itself was nominated for three other Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
McAdams reprised her role as Irene Adler in the mystery/action-adventure sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, but the female lead role was played by Noomi Rapace. Joel Silver, the film’s producer, has said that “we always intended to have a different kind of girl for each movie” in the vein of Bond girls. He found it “complicated” to persuade McAdams to return in a smaller role: “She loved being with us, but she hoped to have a bigger role.” The Wall Street Journal felt “she vanishes all too soon in this overproduced, self-enchanted sequel, and so does The Spirit of bright invention that made the previous film such a pleasant surprise.” The Huffington Post remarked that she “exhibits far more personality and roguish charm in her few moments here than she did in all of the previous film. Freed from the constraints of being the de-facto love interest, McAdams relishes the chance to go full-villain.” The film has grossed over $543 million worldwide.
In 2012, McAdams starred opposite Channing Tatum in the romantic drama The Vow, based on a true story. McAdams and Tatum played a newlywed couple who try to rebuild their relationship after a car crash leaves the wife with no recollections of who he is or their marriage. McAdams was drawn to the “roller coaster” faced by her character and found it interesting that the story was told “through the guy’s eyes”. The New York Times stated that “the dimply and adorable Rachel McAdams” brings “enough physical charm and emotional warmth to distract from the threadbare setting and the paper-thin plot”. Newsday felt that McAdams, “exuding her usual uncanny warmth on-screen”, “is the real draw”. However, the Los Angeles Times felt she was “wasted” in the role: “She is such an appealing Actress that it’s hard not to wish someone could make better use” of her. Time found the film an example of McAdams “coasting” in “unabashedly romantic” movies and asserted that “she’s a much more versatile and clever Actress” than such projects would suggest. The film, financed for $30 million, was a major commercial success and became her biggest box-office hit in a leading role. It topped the U.S. box office and has grossed over $196 million worldwide.
2013–present: About Time and True Detective
In 2013, McAdams appeared opposite Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s romantic drama To the Wonder. McAdams played a horse ranch worker in Oklahoma and the love interest of Affleck’s character. She found Malick to be an “incredibly helpful” director; they discussed her character in detail and he took her on a tour of the local town, pointing out which House she would have grown up in and where she would have attended school. IndieWire noted that “McAdams has the least to do of the principals, but is wonderfully haunted and sad in her brief appearances”. The Telegraph felt she was “never better” but Variety described her character’s storyline as “a brief narrative digression in which Malick seems at least as interested in the horses on Jane’s ranch as he is in the woman herself”.
Afterwards, McAdams starred in Brian De Palma’s erotic thriller Passion opposite Noomi Rapace; they played two business executives in a power struggle. Entertainment Weekly noted that McAdams “uses her sexy billboard smile and emphatic delivery to nail a certain type of troublemaker boss who embeds her aggression in pert ‘sincerity.'” Variety asserted that “even in the absence of stellar material, the leads remain compulsively watchable.” However, The New York Times found her unable to “settle on the right measure of meanness” while the Los Angeles Times remarked: “McAdams and Rapace are gesturally awkward and wildly miscast—more sorority sisters in a spat than cross-generational power antagonists.” She was honoured a plaque dedicated to her on the St. Thomas Wall of Fame in her hometown of St. Thomas, Ontario.
In late 2013, McAdams starred in Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy-drama About Time with Domhnall Gleeson, where she played the love interest of Gleeson’s character. The story’s time-travel element illustrates the importance of living in the moment. Zooey Deschanel was originally slated to play McAdams’s role but dropped out shortly before filming began. Variety praised McAdams and Gleeson for their “radiant, believable chemistry” which “keeps the film aloft.” The Telegraph remarked: “McAdams is a joy, matching Gleeson’s comic timing beat for beat.” The Daily Mail noted that the “unfailingly cute” McAdams had starred in two other films involving time travel but conceded that, “Fortunately, she’s different enough here, in a role winningly influenced by Audrey Tautou‘s Amélie, not to create a sense of déjà vu.”
In 2014, McAdams starred opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in an adaptation of John le Carré’s espionage thriller A Most Wanted Man, directed by Anton Corbijn. McAdams’ performance attracted mixed comments from film reviewers, with many criticising her German accent. Variety magazine noted that “the casting of actors like Hoffman and McAdams (the German accents jar for about a minute before the actors vanish into their roles) subtly underscores the universality of this particular story”. Vanity Fair noted that McAdams had a “little less success with her accent” than her co-star Hoffman but, nonetheless, she “proves as intelligent, soulful, and magnetic a presence as ever”. In late 2014, McAdams received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Since June 2015, McAdams is starring as Ani Bezzerides in the second season of HBO’s anthology crime drama True Detective, alongside Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell. While the season has received mixed reviews to date, McAdams’s work has been praised. The Guardian remarked: “If there’s anyone with any chance of enjoying a McConaughaissance here it’s probably McAdams – an actor whose characters are more usually associated with the death of the romcom than murders involving people with eyes burned out by acid. Here, her Ani is a convincing mess.” Indiewire reiterated this point: “McAdams, in particular, stands out … The popular rom-com star settles into Ani’s skin with surprising ease, instantly owning the role … McAdams cuts to the core of her character, refusing to play into stereotypes on either side of past “lady cop” examples.”
Also in 2015, McAdams co-starred opposite Bradley Cooper and John Krasinski in Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy-drama Aloha, and opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in the boxing drama Southpaw. Also that year, she was one of the leads of Thomas McCarthy’s drama Spotlight, with Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Stanley Tucci. Other upcoming films include Wim Wenders’s drama Every Thing Will Be Fine with James Franco and an animated version of The Little Prince. In September 2015, McAdams confirmed that she will co-star in the superhero film Doctor Strange with Benedict Cumberbatch.