Rachel Anne McAdams, actor (born 17 November 1978 in London, ON). "She has everything you want in a movie star,” Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger said of Rachel McAdams in 2006. “The talent, the looks, the accessibility. People are both attracted to her and feel a kinship with her.” After graduating with a BFA from York University in 2001, McAdams made a meteoric rise to stardom, going from a Gemini Award-winning role in the Canadian TV series Slings & Arrows (2003) to her breakthrough Hollywood performance in the hit high school comedy Mean Girls (2004). Perhaps best known as a leading lady in such Hollywood romances as The Notebook (2004), The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) and The Vow (2012), she has developed a reputation for what the New York Times calls “her winsome manner, her serious acting chops and a no-diva approach to her work.” She will be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on 18 October 2014.

Early Years and Education

The daughter of a truck driver father and a nurse mother, Rachel McAdams was raised in St. Thomas, Ontario. A competitive figure skater from ages four to 18, she began acting at age 12 with the Original Kids Theatre Company in London and won an award in 1995 at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. She planned to enroll in social sciences at the University of Western Ontario, but was encouraged by her high school drama teacher to continue acting. After moving to Toronto, she enrolled in the Drama program at York University, worked with the Necessary Angel Theatre Group and graduated with an honours BFA degree in 2001.

Early Career

McAdams hit the ground running early in her career, landing television roles before she even graduated from university. After performing in a TV pilot that was not picked up for network television (Shotgun Love Dolls, 2001), she landed guest appearances in series such as The Famous Jett Jackson (2001) and Earth: Final Conflict (2002). She then made her feature film debut in the Italian-Canadian co-production My Name is Tanino (2002), in which she played an American tourist who inspires a Sicilian man to follow her back to the US.

She was nominated for a Genie Award for her supporting performance as the younger version of Wendy Crewson’s character in Barbara Willis Sweete’s indie drama Perfect Pie (2002), and was cast in her first Hollywood feature as a high school cheerleader who magically swaps bodies with Rob Schneider’s petty crook in the teen comedy The Hot Chick (2002). She also continued working in Canadian television. In 2004, she won a Gemini Award for her supporting performance as a Shakespearean actress who falls for an American star in the first season of the acclaimed TMN series Slings & Arrows.

Hollywood Breakthrough

McAdams achieved a major career breakthrough in 2004, starring as a sadistic but endearing high school social queen opposite Lindsay Lohan in the Tina Fey-scripted hit movie Mean Girls (2004). She also played a 1940s Southern debutante who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks (played by Ryan Gosling) in the romance The Notebook (2004), which performed poorly at the box office but became immensely popular after its initial release.

These were followed by McAdams’s sassy and sweet performance opposite Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the blockbuster comedy Wedding Crashers (2005), as well as a starring role in the Wes Craven thriller Red Eye (2005) and a supporting turn in the comedy The Family Stone (2005), co-starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes and Diane Keaton. By the time McAdams was named Supporting Actress of the Year by the US National Association of Theatre Owners at the ShoWest Awards in 2005, she was being hailed by many Hollywood insiders as the next Julia Roberts.

Hollywood Break

McAdams was nominated for the Rising Star Award at the BAFTA Awards in 2006, but became so selective in her choice of roles that she ended up taking a break from making movies altogether. She also backed out of an agreement to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair’s 2006 Hollywood issue after showing up for the shoot and learning it would involve nudity (she was reportedly not informed by her publicist, who was then fired). Speaking of this period in a 2013 interview with The Times of London, McAdams said, “There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, a lot of voices around me, and I wanted to step away so I could hear my own voice again.” She reportedly turned down the female leads in Mission Impossible III (2006), Casino Royale (2006), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Get Smart (2008) and Iron Man (2008).

Return to Acting

McAdams marked her return to acting with principal roles in two low-profile projects, playing a 1940s femme fatale opposite Chris Cooper and Pierce Brosnan in the noir drama Married Life (2007) and an American soldier returning from Iraq in the indie drama The Lucky Ones (2008). She then returned to more mainstream studio fare, reaffirming romance as her signature genre with The Time Traveler's Wife (2009), The Vow (2012) and About Time (2013), while also earning positive reviews for her work in the thrillers State of Play (2009), opposite Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Ben Affleck, and A Most Wanted Man (2014), with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

She played the wily love interest of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes in the slick, action-adventure blockbusters Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), and also worked with renowned auteur directors in more challenging films, including Terence Malick’s romantic drama To the Wonder (2012), Brian De Palma’s erotic thriller Passion (2012) and Wim Wenders’s Montréal-shot drama Every Thing Will Be Fine (2014). She co-starred with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton in the comedy Morning Glory (2010), and was cast, on Keaton’s recommendation, opposite Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's highly successful romantic fantasy Midnight in Paris (2011).

Activism and Charity Work

A committed environmentalist, McAdams lives in Toronto in a house powered by renewable energy. She co-founded the eco-friendly lifestyle blog GreenIsSexy.org and assisted the clean-up effort in Biloxi, Mississippi, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In 2010, she took part in the Canada for Haiti telethon following the Haiti earthquake, and in 2011 she participated in the Occupy Toronto protests and the Foodstock event to protest a proposed mega quarry near the Niagara Escarpment. In 2013, she served as a spokesperson for the Food and Water First Movement, which aims to preserve Ontario’s farmland and fresh water supply. She has also been involved with many other charities, including Habitat for Humanity and United Way.

Personal Life

McAdams was involved in a high-profile relationship with Ryan Gosling from 2005 to 2007, and briefly in 2008. She has also been romantically linked to American actor Josh Lucas and her Midnight in Paris co-star Michael Sheen. In 2014, McAdams and her sister, Kayleen, participated in an episode of the TLC genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? and discovered that a maternal ancestor, James Gray, was a Loyalist who had fought for Britain during the American Revolutionary War.

Honours

In 2013, McAdams was inducted into the St. Thomas Wall of Fame in her hometown and attended the ceremony with her parents. She is set to be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on 18 October 2014 for her accomplishments as “one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and respected actors.”

See also: Rachel McAdams (Profile)

Awards

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series (Slings & Arrows), Gemini Awards (2004)

Best Breakthrough Female Performance (Mean Girls), MTV Movie Awards (2005)

Best Kiss (The Notebook), MTV Movie Awards (2005)

Supporting Actress of the Year, ShoWest Awards (2005)

Choice Movie Actress, Drama (The Notebook), Teen Choice Awards (2005)

Choice Move Actress, Comedy (Wedding Crashers, The Family Stone), Teen Choice Awards (2006)

Female Star of the Year, ShoWest Awards (2009)

Choice Movie Actress: Action Adventure (Sherlock Holmes), Teen Choice Awards (2009)

Inductee, Canada’s Walk of Fame (2014)