Rachel McAdams/The Notebook Interview by Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Beautiful star-on-the-rise Rachel McAdams says she has barely enough timefor an off-screen love life, ironic, since we're sitting down chatting abouther starring role in the old-fashioned romantic drama The Notebook. Here, inthis 1940s-set film, she and Ryan Gosling play a couple who are separated byWorld War II, then passionately reunited 7 years later, after they havetaken different paths. As classic a romantic tale this is, that sense ofromanticism is yet to translate into McAdams' own life, laughingly concedingthat she hasn't found love of late, "because he didn't come when I sent outthe letter."
The Canadian-born McAdams, 27, admits that it's tough to findromance in this crazy business of Hollywood. "I have hardly enough time forME these days it seems, so I don't think it is fair. It takes a lot of time,commitment and a choice. I've chosen this path, but it's not to say I'm notopen to love or whatever comes my way. But it's a hard time right now,especially with everything being the way it is." Not that she is deadagainst being asked out, of course. "I mean, you never close doors."While her love life is stagnant, the same cannot be said for McAdams'Hollywood career, which is destined to be fully cemented following therelease of The Notebook. Despite the added presence of veterans James Garnerand Gena Rowlands, it is essentially McAdams, who first appeared on thescene in the regrettable comic fiasco The Hot Chick, who is required toliterally carry this film. Her character is the film's emotionalcentrepiece, a task the actress was made too aware of once she landed thepart. "I was told if I wasn't good in this movie, it would be screwed," shesays, laughingly. "That's how I started the movie." In order to avoid thatsense of pressure, McAdams said at first, she merely avoided thinking aboutit. "At first I put way too much pressure on myself and realised that itwasn't getting me anywhere. I was just a ball of stress and eventually, thecharacter kicked in where she's sort of free-spirited, doesn't care whatpeople think and chases down those things she wants. I think I had to get tothat point where my survival instincts kicked in and so I just decided: OK,let's take a ride."
The Notebook is a film that chronicles the intense love and passion thatexists between these two characters, in the tradition of classic Hollywoodromances. McAdams says that it was not difficult being able to relate towhat her character goes through in the course of the film, admitting thatthere have been times in her life when she felt the same degree of love orpassion for somebody. "I mean, you try to be as sort of clinical, or aspractical as you can, but my heart always wins the battle with my head. Ithink she's the same way which is why people end up finding each otheragain." Asked what head over heels material she drew upon in her real life,McAdams says it is "just trying to reconnect to those first loveexperiences. Also, when you're working with someone for the first time,that's interesting and almost a parallel," she says, referring to herco-star Ryan Gosling. "Ryan and I didn't know each other too well, so youget to have that little piece of newness, getting to know each other and allthose other 'newnesses' come along with it, so as strange as movie makingis, doing love scenes for the first time with someone you've never even saidhello to, does work in terms of having a fresh quality to a relationship."
Talking about love scenes, McAdams has some hot and sweaty moments withGosling, and despite the intensity of those scenes, McAdams was unconcerned,"because we had lengthy conversations, from the very beginning. You know,Nick [Cassavetes, the director], Ryan and I started working on this twomonths in advance of shooting. We were in Charleston for two monthsprepping, so there was also this open discourse about how things would goand Ryan is a real gentleman. He's got a lot of respect and we had a lot ofcommunication and beyond that, you have to trust each other and play it outand see how it works."
Despite the plethora of special effects blockbusters coming along, Rachelfeels that there is very much a place for a movie like The Notebook. "Thisis the opposite of those large action thrillers that constantly keep you onthe edge of your seat. What I love about this film is that it rejects that,as you kinda sit in that slow burn of love in the South. Also, I think thatthe tone and pace of the film reflect the time period, and those thingscomplement each other so well. I think that it's time for another sweepingromance because I think there hasn't been one for a while."
As one of the dominant themes in The Notebook is the everlasting power oflove, one wonders what it is, in fact, that makes love last, according tothis actress. "First I think it comes down to making a choice that youbelieve and once you've made that decision, then you don't hold back; It'severything and the kitchen sink. I don't know anything about love but myparents are still very much in love and I think it's a lot of work. However,I think you have to have passion and a little bit of spit and fire."
There is no doubt that the buzz around this town, is that McAdams isdefinitely a star on the rise, and with this film even generating some earlyOscar talk, McAdams says that the doors in Hollywood are beginning to openjust a tad wider. "I mean, opportunities are definitely coming up andthey're very interesting. Being in a position to be able to choose is verystressful but also very amazing, wonderful and such a gift." She says thatposition is beginning to take shape, but "it feels like sometimes you'vegotta hit Hollywood over the head with a hammer. If Mean Girls hadn't comeout at the same time, I don't know where I would be, but I'm going to holdout and see what happens."
With growing success, the inevitably of fame also rears its ugly head, whichremains a by-product of that success. The actress says that she hopes todeal with such impending fame by "hoping to go back to Canada, do a lot oftravelling, which I find very grounding. But I think you have to decide:I'm going to be strong, and maintain who I am."
THE NOTEBOOK OPENS IN OCTOBER.