Rachel Anne 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, with the character of Regina George in the comedy Mean Girls and with her performance in 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 the romantic comedy About Time (2013). In 2015, her most high-profile roles were in season two of HBO’s crime drama True Detective, and as journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight. For her performance in Spotlight, she received nominations for the SAG Award, Critics’ Choice Award, and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 2001–05: Early work
- 2.2 2004–05: Breakthrough
- 2.3 2006–08: Career break and low-profile return
- 2.4 2009–10: Return to mainstream studio films
- 2.5 2011–14: Roles in big-name auteur projects
- 2.6 2015–present: Academy Award nomination
- 3 Philanthropy
- 3.1 Environmental activism
- 3.2 Other causes
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Filmography
- 5.1 Film
- 5.2 Television
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 References
- 8 External links
McAdams was born in London, Ontario, to Sandra Kay (née Gale), a nurse, and Lance Frederick McAdams, a retired truck driver and furniture mover, and grew up in nearby St. Thomas. She is of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent; McAdams’ maternal fifth great-grandfather, James Gray, was a Loyalist ranger during the American Revolution and fled to Canada after the Battles of Saratoga. McAdams is the eldest of three children with a sister, Kayleen, a celebrity make-up artist, and a brother, Daniel. When she was four years old, she began figure skating, but turned down an opportunity to move to Toronto when she was nine years old for pair skating training. Then skating became merely “a hobby”. She competed in skating until the age of eighteen, winning regional awards. She has since said that skating prepared her for physical acting, because it trained her to be “in tune” with her body. McAdams was educated at Myrtle Street Public School, and later Central Elgin Collegiate Institute. She did not enjoy academic work and often would pretend to be sick to avoid going to school. Nonetheless, she was active in student life. In addition to playing sports (including volleyball, badminton, and soccer), McAdams served on the student council, participated in the Crimestoppers program, and was a member of the Peer Helping Team. She worked at a McDonald’s restaurant during the summer holidays for three years.
McAdams first developed an interest in performing when she was seven years old, and while her parents did not discourage her, they did not “go out and find [her] an agent”. She attended both Disney and Shakespeare summer camps as a child. From the age of twelve, McAdams participated in Original Kids Theatre Company, London productions. In her late teens, she directed children’s theatre productions. She also was involved in school stage productions, most notably winning a performance award at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. She was inspired by two of her teachers, who taught her English and drama, respectively, in the eleventh and twelfth grades. McAdams intended to take Cultural studies at the University of Western Ontario before being persuaded by her drama teacher that a professional acting career was a viable option. She enrolled in York University’s four-year theatre program and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts honours degree in 2001. While at university, McAdams worked with the Toronto-based Necessary Angel Theatre Company.
2001–05: Early work
In 2001, McAdams made her television debut in the MTV pilot Shotgun Love Dolls as Beth Swanson, which 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 Rob 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.
McAdams’ breakout role came in 2004, when she starred in the comedy film Mean Girls opposite Lindsay Lohan, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried. McAdams was 25 years old when 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.”