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Celebrity Interviews
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featured interview

McRomance

By Fred Topel
August 2009

Rachel McAdams starred in one of the all time classic romances, The Notebook. Even men admit to crying in that movie. Her latest romance is a bit less conventional. In The Time Traveler’s Wife, she plays the title character. Her husband Henry (Eric Bana) disappears at moments he cannot control, for lengths of time he cannot determine. Henry even meets her as a young girl and plants the seeds for their future love.

“I think there's a definite choice being made between these two characters,” McAdams said. “I think they choose to be together every day. I think they could walk away. When Claire says she doesn't have a choice, in that moment I think it’s out of frustration, but I think she genuinely means that this is the man she loves. It’s chemistry and it’s alchemy and that whatever your challenges are, that you make it work somehow. She really wouldn't have it any other way. You could be with a man who doesn’t have a chrono-displacement disorder and have some kind of other problem.”

Perhaps time travel is just a metaphor for more mundane problems real couples face. “Something I think we both deal with as actors of separation,” McAdams said. “It’s falling off the face of the Earth sometimes to the other side of it. I think it’s this thing that tears you away from the people you love and I think that's something that's fairly relatable.”

McAdams did not have to go far to make The Time Traveler’s Wife, however. The film shot largely in her home province of Ontario, Canada. “That's a really nice gift to just roll right from work right to bed. But at the same time, you're almost responsible for more because you're living two lives. You have your work life and you have your regular life, and you have to come home and clean the toilet and go buy groceries and all of this stuff. When you're on location it’s a little bit more, you're just sort of immersed in your work. Yes, it’s different.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife sent McAdams back in time for one scene, to play her teenage self on one of Henry’s visits. “It was fun to be 16 again. Yes, that was really fun. You know, we spent a lot of time talking about the hair, the clothes, the makeup. I worked with such amazingly talented people, with just a brushstroke it would change my face a little bit, and the same with the older Claire as well. I mean, I looked at myself in the mirror one day and I didn’t really realize we were doing the older Clare that day and I said, 'Oh, I'm looking a little haggard.' And she said, 'Oh don't worry. It’s paint, it’ll come off at night.'”

With questions raised about chronology and key moments in ones lives, McAdams could not help but reflect. “This film made me think about going back and seeing the people that you love in a different time. Like seeing my parents fall in love or seeing them as children and how fun that would be.”

More love talk from the new queen of romance. That aspect of her performances is not a stretch. “I confess, I love romance and I think it’s really fun and delicious. Some of my favorite films are love stories. I think you just get a chance to fall in love with a character so much, and you get to explore their lives so deeply. All these intimate moments that you’re not privy to in life, like you can’t sort of be a fly on the wall to people’s relationships. I find relationships so fascinating. Just watching my parents, they’ve been together so long and they’re still so very much in love. I’m in awe of that. I think it’s a really interesting case study, to see how people spend their lives together. So that’s interesting to me.”

She’s certainly made lots of men fall in love with her. “Not to be too critical of myself, I don’t see myself like that necessarily. It’s a constant journey for me, and a constant learning experience. I wish I could just step back and watch it, and be carried away, but it never encapsulates the experience.”

The film suggests that history is permanent, unchangeable. Henry’s visits to young Clare may have predetermined their adult relationship. It makes McAdams think spiritually.

“Well, just being here and having this life, there’s a balance of some hand guiding you somewhere, and at the same time, your own free will and taking the bull by the horns. I do think it’s a combination of the two that gets you wherever you are. I think there’s a little bit of control, but not much. I definitely believe in the power of energy and that you are drawn to certain things for inexplicable reasons, but in a very powerful way. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know that things happen kind of miraculously sometimes.”

After The Time Traveler’s Wife, McAdams will next be seen in Sherlock Holmes. The big studio re-introduction of the classic sleuth is her first foray into blockbuster territory.

“It’s so fun because everything is so realistic. We’re shooting in the real dungeons of London and I had the most beautiful costumes. Everything’s fairly authentic.”

As the female lead, McAdams might not be playing Sherlock Holmes for romance. “We do have a certain kind of chemistry. It's more like an experiment gone wrong, but yes, we tangle in an interesting way.”

Even with an impressive resume and more major films lined up, McAdams takes nothing for granted. She still auditions and fights for the roles she wants. “There’s always that possibility of disappointment and losing out on something you really want but I think everything happens for a reason. I see something that I didn’t get and I can’t imagine myself in that role or I can’t imagine anybody but the person who wound up doing it. So, I think it’s all a bit fated in that way.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife opens August 14.

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