She may be a Hollywood movie star but Rachel McAdams prides herself on being just ‘an ordinary girl.’ The 33-year-old actress has made a name for herself in top grossing films such as Mean Girls, The Wedding Crashers, Midnight in Paris (where she met her current beau, Michael Sheen) and the big weepy The Notebook opposite former flame, Ryan Gosling. And the Toronto native will have us reaching for the tissues once more with her latest romantic drama, The Vow, out on February 10th in time for Valentine’s Day. Starring alongside the sexy Channing Tatum, Rachel plays Paige who learns to fall in love with her husband all over again when she loses her memory in a car crash.
LBD caught up with the down-to-earth star in Los Angeles where she chatted about love, her latest film, and of course, her favourite LBD…
The Vow is ever so romantic. Were you looking forward to making a romantic film again after the success of The Notebook?
Yes, because I hadn’t made a movie like that in a while. It is an incredible story because it actually happened to two people. They came through this and found their way back to each other. It’s just amazing. I also really liked the character. I felt I hadn’t played anything like her before. She goes on such an emotional and circumstantial rollercoaster and there’s just such a lot to play there. I did a lot of research on brain injuries and memory loss, and there are so many ways the personality can change. Some people can be very irritable and other people laugh at inappropriate times. So as an actor, it seemed very challenging.
It’s amazing that this couple found love again. Do you believe in destiny?
What was so interesting about this and what the experts say is that people often find their way back to the path they were on before they lost all of their memories. It’s quite common for them to go back into the same careers, they will wind up with the same people and they will resemble their previous selves quite closely, so I think that is an interesting argument for destiny.
Did you have a chance to meet with the woman whose life this film is based on?
Yes, I did. The characters are very different but we did meet. I also read her husband’s book about the aftermath and winning her back.
Is there anybody from your past who you’d like to forget?
I don’t know who I would be if I lost my memories. I might not be where I am and I’m pretty happy with where I am right now.
We hear Channing is a bit of a joker. Did he wind you up on set?
Well there is a scene after the accident where I’m learning how to live with my husband again and Channing walks out of the bathroom in the nude. But on this occasion he wore a really large prosthetic penis! Yes, he’s very proud of that day. They filmed my initial reaction, which was shock! I still can’t believe he did that. It made my job much easier because I didn’t have to do much acting. But the scale of it was ridiculous! Channing is so much fun, but I was always kind of a little on edge because I knew something was around the next corner.
As a young girl you were a competitive figure skater. How did you parents react when you told them you wanted to become an actress?
Yes, early on it was skating, but it wasn’t skating for me ultimately. My parents always said this to me: “Okay you finish out this season and if you don’t want to carry on, that’s fine, but you have to finish what you started.” So that was their only rule. When I told them I wanted to go to theatre school, I’m sure they were terrified, but they didn’t show it and they were completely supportive and of course, it’s fine now.
Are you still figure skating?
Ah that’s another life. I will always love it. It’s sort of my first love in terms of the arts and it’s a beautiful sport. Actually I took Channing skating when he was in Toronto and it was so funny because I thought: “Oh I’ll teach him a few moves,” And he mostly taught me how to break-dance on ice. Well, it turned into dirty dancing on ice! Actually, I retract that, it was not dirty at all, it was very clean but it was fun. We had a good time.
Channing’s character is so perfect in this film. Have you ever met someone who is almost too perfect?
No! I think flaws are good. I think there are people who have the right flaws for you or otherwise it would be rather dull.
Have you ever felt lust at first sight?
Definitely. Women are in tune with their pheromones. I think a lot of that has to do with those first sightings of people. I think there is all crazy kinds of stuff going on inside our bodies. And I also think you can sense if they are going to be good fathers, a woman can tell by intuition. I think that can go a long way.
So what do you find attractive in a man?
Initially it’s all in the chemistry. It’s all that intangible feeling. But beyond that it is: Are they funny? Are they intelligent? And of course, are they hot? They need to be hot.
You’ve gone through various hair colours for your film roles, is there one that fits you?
I’m kind of a slave to whatever that character is. I prefer being blonde. If it wasn’t so damn hard, I’d be blonde all the time!
Is that your natural hair colour?
It used to be when I was four.
What are your favourite things to do away from the set?
I like to garden and cook. I’m more of a homemaker.
What is your signature dish?
I made a lovely lemon roast chicken the other night.
Are you getting recognised more since The Notebook?
It certainly happens more than it used to. But I live in Toronto, so people don’t go to the extremes. I am in LA mostly for work, but here everybody is in their car all the time, so you don’t really have any contact with the public. Only at traffic lights!
Which actor would you like to shoot a love scene with?
I just love Daniel Day Lewis, I think he’s the bee’s knees!
What workout do you swear by?
I love yoga because it combines everything. You get to do a little singing, chanting, and there’s the spiritual element to it and it’s a way to connect with people who share the same passion.
What’s your favourite outfit in your wardrobe?
Well if it’s a big event, I do have a stylist who will send me some dress options but if it’s a personal event, like a dinner party, I have a super comfortable metallic black strapless dress by Lanvin which I like to throw on. It’s kind of ruched at the front and if I eat too much, nobody will notice!
You always look stunning when you walk the red carpet. Who is your favourite designer?
I wear a lot of Marchesa. I love how feminine her dresses are. They are all very pretty and lacy. I’m a very girly girl.
Do you ever feel like Cinderella for the day?
Yes! Like when I came home from the Sherlock Holmes (Game of Shadows) premiere in LA the other night, I had to take everything off. The shoes I wore were like little Christian Louboutin glass slippers, along with this beautiful silver lace gown. You take it off and it’s really weird, because it’s all borrowed and you feel like a pumpkin.
The Vow hits cinemas on February 10th.