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Some life lessons with actress Rachel McAdams

Published 03/08/2015

Fun job: Rachel McAdams
Fun job: Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams in Southpaw with Jake Gyllenhaal

Canadian actress Rachel McAdams (36), often typecast as the love interest, is well able to hold her own on the big screen when working with Hollywood's hottest leading men. Catapulted to fame after tear-jerker romance The Notebook (which also launched the career of Ryan Gosling), the star is currently featured in big-screen boxing drama Southpaw, with Jake Gyllenhaal, while also starring alongside our own Colin Farrell in HBO's True Detective.

The eldest of three children to a nurse mother and retired truck-driver father, the actress has come a long way since the Disney and Shakespeare summer camps she attended as a child.

In her own words...

There's really some wonderful things about the business. It's a really fun job. It's fun to dress up in the clothes and participate in the glitz and the glamour sometimes, but I couldn't do it all the time. I would be exhausted, so it's nice to just leave it behind for a little bit, too, and step away from it. I couldn't do it 24/7.

I haven't been totally corrupted yet. I kind of get sucked in to the awe of the Hollywood glamour. I can sort of go in and out.

I don't live in LA. I can separate myself from the industry quite successfully, and concentrate on other things.

I'm from a very close-knit family. There was something very… I guess you could say normal, about it, and I so appreciate that. We all ate dinner together every single night and my mom stayed at home with us. I owe a lot to my parents.

My parents opened a bank account for me when I was really little. I think I paid for some of my university education with my savings. I've always been a bit of a saver.

Doing True Detective was one of the best experiences I've ever had, so creatively satisfying. I was worried a little bit about the darkness of it and how deep I'd have to go into that and actually it was quite the opposite. I left every day just feeling so fulfilled and creatively satisfied that the darkness didn't really permeate. It does to a certain extent, but I think only in a constructive way for the most part.

Colin and I talked about this a lot, we both felt the same way. There was an odd levity at the end of each day, where you felt like you put it all on the line when it counted and then you could just step away. And we were just on cloud nine that we were enjoying the process so much, which was a nice antidote to the dark. You kind of need the contrast, because it's a lot.

I have a lot of respect for boxing. Southpaw was my first introduction to the boxing world. I mean, I've watched fights on TV, but that was about it, so yeah, it was a real crash course in what the sport really is. I have a lot of respect for it. It's not an easy thing and just the amount of skill and artistry involved. I think it's really a graceful sport.

I got to box a little bit to understand it even better and it's really hard. You have to be in peak physical condition and even then it's asking everything of your body and your mind.

Jake is not just focused on his own journey. I had so much fun with him. He loves what he does and that comes across all the time. He brings so much to the table. He is so thoughtful when it comes to his characters and all the characters around him, all the players. It was intense, a really intense, gruelling part for him, and he really took it on and didn't hold back.

It gets really deep inside of Jake. I think he is incredibly cerebral about all his characters, but he works hard at getting beyond that, so you can't see any of the technical work. He once said to me, "I love sort of setting up my tool kit. I love going into every scene thinking, 'Oh which tool am I going to use', and, 'Which kind of accessory am I going to bring out'," so I think he's just a real artist.

My character attracted me to the script. Antoine (Fuqua, the director) was very adamant about making sure that you felt her throughout. I mean, I just love that she was such a vibrant character for even a short period of time.

I loved her on the page instantly. I thought she had a lot of fire and she was feisty and yet loving and kind of sweet, too, so I didn't so much think about how long she was in it. I was always aware that it had to make a splash.

I would transform for a role, like Charlize Theron in Monster. I think you do anything to get as close to that character as possible. There's kind of no end to … I love getting as far away as physically possible as I can from the character, so that would be great. It's a great challenge. It's not called for a lot. Those roles are few and far between and everybody wants them.

  • Southpaw is in cinemas nationwide. True Detective is on Sky Atlantic, Mondays

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