Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams

Active - 2002 - 2023  |   Born - Nov 17, 1978 in London, Ontario, Canada  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Mystery

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Biography by AllMovie

Possessing the sort of stylish, model-esque good looks that wouldn't be out of place in the glossy pages of Vogue, actress Rachel McAdams got her start on Canadian television before graduating to Hollywood features. Though McAdams' early screen roles found her specializing in the bitchy teen princess to maximum effect, closer inspection reveals a skilled dramatic actress who no doubt has the talent to move beyond the high-school trappings of such comedies as The Hot Chick and Mean Girls.

Born to a truck driver and a nurse in London, Ontario, Canada, McAdams warmed to the spotlight early on by taking up competitive skating at just four years old. Though she would remain on the ice well into her teens, the toll of constant competition eventually frazzled her nerves, and she soon began gravitating toward the stage. Beginning in summer theater camp at the age of 13, the burgeoning actress' smooth handling of Shakespeare eventually led her to enroll in theater studies at York University. In the years that followed, McAdams' comfort on the stage translated exceptionally well to the screen, and a role as a bulimic teen in the popular Disney series The Famous Jett Jackson found the rising starlet making an impressive small-screen debut. Supporting roles in such television series as Shotgun Love Dolls and made-for-TV features such as Guilt by Association were quick to follow. After climbing the credits to make her feature debut in My Name is Tanino, McAdams was nominated for a Genie award (the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar) for her performance in 2002's Perfect Pie. The film, which cast her as a small-town girl whose best friend makes the big time by becoming a celebrated opera singer, provided McAdams with her breakout role, and she soon set her sights on Hollywood.

Her bags packed for the trip west and stars shining in her eyes, the talented McAdams soon caught the eyes of studio heavies and was cast as a popular but excruciatingly cruel high-school teen who learns a hard lesson in The Hot Chick. McAdams made a move to weekly television in 2003 with a supporting role in Slings and Arrows before once again returning to torment the unpopular crowd in 2004's Mean Girls. A big-screen adaptation of Rosalind Wiseman's popular book Queen Bees and Wannabes, the film was also notable as the screenwriting debut of Saturday Night Live writer/cast member Tina Fey. Moving away from the cruel halls of high school, McAdams next appeared opposite Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, the feature adaptation of author Nicholas Sparks' top-selling novel. A romantic drama concerning a young couple separated by war, The Notebook found McAdams in a notably more sympathetic role.

In 2005, she pulled off an impressive triple-feat with roles in three very different movies. First, she played the female lead in Wedding Crashers, a surprise, raunchy comedic hit. Her next film was in the thriller Red Eye, where she squared off against Cillian Murphy. Her third film of the year was the family dramedy The Family Stone, with McAdams playing the sardonic younger sister of the family. After this busy year, McAdams opted to take a nearly two-year break.

She returned quietly, doing some smaller films, before returning in 2009 to main-stream fare with State of Play and The Time Traveler's Wife, and finally, playing Irene Adler in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. In 2011, she was nominated for a SAG Ensemble Award for Midnight in Paris, once again paired up with Owen Wilson (her co-star from Wedding Crashers), in a film that won Woody Allen an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. She also reprised her role in the Sherlock Holmes sequel, A Game of Shadows. In 2012, McAdams returned to her romantic-drama roots and starred in The Vow, opposite Channing Tatum.

McAdams continued to alternate between romcoms and other genres, like Richard Curtis' About Time and Brian De Palma's thriller Passion. In 2015, she took on a supporting role in Spotlight, earning McAdams her first Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actress.

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  • Began competing in figure skating at age 4 and continued with the sport until she was 18. 
  • Performed Shakespeare at the Original Kids Theatre in her home town at the age of 12.
  • First TV performance was as a girl with bulimia in a 2001 episode of The Famous Jett Jackson.
  • Prepared for her role of Southern belle Allie Hamilton in The Notebook (2004) by taking etiquette lessons.
  • Won a 2005 MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Female for her role in Mean Girls and also shared one with Notebook costar Ryan Gosling for Best Kiss.
  • Arrived at a photo shoot for the March 2006 issue of Vanity Fair magazine only to bow out at the last minute because she reportedly had a change of heart about posing nude.
  • Voiced a polar bear in a 2015 video by Greenpeace, highlighting the dangers of Arctic oil drilling.