Happy Birthday Rachel McAdams!
The beloved Canadian actress turned 42 on November 17 and despite the on-going coronavirus pandemic, she has a lot to celebrate in 2020. McAdams is currently expecting her second child with her partner, screenwriter Jamie Linden and appeared in Will Ferrell’s musical comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
She has charmed audiences ever since she burst onto the scene in 2002 when she starred in the Hollywood comedy The Hot Chick. McAdams then rose to fame in 2004 with 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 comedy-drama The Family Stone. She was quickly hailed by the media as Hollywood’s new “It Girl” and received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Rising Star.
After a brief sabbatical, she returned to prominence in 2009, by appearing in the political thriller State of Play, the romance The Time Traveler’s Wife and the mystery film Sherlock Holmes. In 2010, McAdams appeared in the star vehicle comedy film Morning Glory, and went on to star in the films Midnight in Paris, The Vow and About Time. In 2015, she starred in the second season of the HBO anthology crime drama series True Detective and portrayed the journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in the drama Spotlight. For the latter, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. More recent roles include the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Doctor Strange, the 2017 romantic drama Disobedience and the 2018 comedy Game Night.
With nearly two decades in Hollywood, it’s hard to narrow down the actress’ best roles, but in honor of her birthday, we did the dirty work for you. Check out our picks for the seven must-watch McAdams movies and where to stream them tonight.
Ryan’s Gosling character Noah Calhoun said it best. “It wasn’t over, it still isn’t over!” Same could be said for our obsession with The Notebook. If you’ve been living under a rock, the epic romance film, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, follows the love story of 1940s mill worker Noah and rich girl Allie, played by McAdams. But her parents don’t approve. When Noah goes off to serve in World War II, it seems to mark the end of their love affair. In the interim, Allie becomes involved with another man, but when Noah returns to their small town years later, on the cusp of Allie’s marriage, it soon becomes clear that their romance is anything but over. The film jumps back and forth to present day as an elderly man reading from a notebook and telling the tale to a fellow nursing home resident.
Gosling and McAdams even became a real-life couple once the film wrapped and dated seriously for over two years. In a 2007 interview with GQ, Gosling admitted that his love story with the actress was way more romantic than The Notebook.
“People do Rachel and me a disservice by assuming we were anything like the people in that movie,” he said. “Rachel and my love story is a hell of a lot more romantic than that.”
Stock up on tissues, not matter how many times you’ve seen it.
Midnight In Paris
Many will argue there is no movie more beautiful than Woody Allen’s 2011 masterpiece Midnight in Paris. The fantasy comedy-drama film, set in the City Of Light, follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter played by Owen Wilson, who is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his materialistic fiancée Inez, played by McAdams, and their divergent goals, which become increasingly exaggerated as he travels back in time each night at midnight. The movie explores themes of nostalgia and modernism.
In 2012, it won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. It was also nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Art Direction.
The Family Stone
With the holidays around the corner, there is no better time to re-watch the 2005 tearjerker The Family Stone. With an all-star ensemble cast, including Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes, Tyrone Giordano and of course, McAdams, the film follows the Christmas holiday misadventures of the Stone family in a small New England town when the eldest son brings his uptight girlfriend Meredith home with the intention of proposing to her. McAdams stars as Amy Stone, the youngest member and schoolteacher who had previously met Meredith and took an immediate dislike to her.
McAdams said she felt “drawn to the dramatic arc that Amy goes through, which eventually brings her full circle. She sees herself as honest, not mean, and expresses that uncensored candor in her sardonic wit.”
“Amy instantly rejects Meredith as unsuitable for her brother, because Meredith represents a whole way of living – fashionable yuppie success – that Amy has worked hard to reject,” McAdams continued in an interview. “Eventually, she comes to realize that she would reject anyone who was brought into the family from outside, because outside is about change. Amy wants everything to stay the same.”
Married Life is one of of McAdams’ most underrated films. The 2007 American period drama is based on the 1953 novel Five Roundabouts To Heaven by John Bingham, which was also the basis for a 1962 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour entitled “The Tender Poisoner.” Set in 1949, McAdams plays young war widow, Kay Nesbitt who has an affair with middle-aged businessman Harry Allen, played by Chris Cooper. Feeling rejuvenated by his emotional reawakening, he confides in his best friend Richard Langley, played by Pierce Bronson. Meeting Kay, Richard is immediately entranced and wants her for himself, and also discovers that Harry’s wife Pat, played by Patricia Clarkson, is having an affair of her own. Harry, fearing that divorce would be an unbearable humiliation for Pat, decides to kill her instead.
For the fabulous 40s fashion alone, this film is worth a watch.
In may not be October 3, but today is the perfect day to revisit Tina Fey’s 2004 high-school clique comedy Mean Girls. Based in part on Rosalind Wiseman’s 2002 non-fiction self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, the highly quotable film follows new student Cady Heron, played by Lindsay Lohan, and the rich and popular girls known as “The Plastics,” led by Regina George, played by McAdams. Fey has said she cast McAdams as Regina because being “kind and polite” made her perfect for such an evil-spirited character. The comedy also gave us hilarious performances by Amy Poehler, as Regina’s desperate-to-be-cool mom, Lizzy Caplan as Janis Ian, a goth artistic girl who befriends Cady and hatches a plan to take down Regina, and Daniel Franzese as Damian “too gay to function” Leigh.
“Adults find it funny,” Fey noted in an interview about the film. “They are the ones who are laughing. Young people watch it like a reality show. It’s much too close to their real experiences, so they are not exactly guffawing.”
Since its release, the film has grossed $130 million worldwide and developed a cult following making words like “fetch” and “grool” household terms.
In a super serious turn, McAdams starred as journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in the 2015 biographical drama Spotlight. The film follows The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalist unit in the United States, and its investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories by the Spotlight team that earned The Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The film featured an impressive cast which also included Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber and Billy Crudup.
“I feel privileged to be part of that ensemble, and to get to tell the story of this [Spotlight] ensemble — of the real reporters,” the actress told Savannah Guthrie on Today.
The film won numerous guilds and critics’ association awards and was named one of the finest films of 2015 by various publications. Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Best Original Screenplay from six total nominations including one for McAdams for Best Supporting Actress.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
McAdams’ latest project is the wacky musical comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, co-written by Will Ferrell. The film follows Icelandic singers Lars Erickssong, played by Ferrell, and Sigrit Ericksdóttir, played by McAdams, as they are given the chance to represent their country at the prestigious Eurovision Song Contest. The film was initially scheduled for a May 2020 release to coincide with the real-life Eurovision Song Contest 2020. However, after the contest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the film was released a month later.
McAdams said she was committed to nailing the Icelandic accent her role required and “watched everything” she possibly could of singer-actress Björk. She even did her own singing for the film but only parts of it made it into the final cut.
“I was singing all the songs, and then David would lift bits of my performance,” McAdams told The A.V. Club. “The bulk of the music was done by a Swedish singer, Molly Sandén. Our voices were quite similar. They did some fancy stuff in the studio and pulled it together that way, and then I sing the song that my character is composing.”
Stream it now on Netflix.