Canadian actor Rachel McAdams burst onto the Hollywood scene with her roles in THE HOT CHICK (2002) and MEAN GIRLS (2004). She proved her chops in comedy early on and yet it is her role in THE NOTEBOOK (2004) followed by the WEDDING CRASHERS (2005) that set her up, at the time, as a showbiz personality on a par with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. (There was a tiny controversy back in 2007 when she was supposed to appear on a Vanity Fair magazine cover with Knightley and Johansson, because unbeknownst to McAdams it was a supposed to be a naked session; despite its being with famed photographer Annie Liebowitz, McAdams turned it down)
Like Johansson and Knightley, McAdams career has prospered, yet not necessarily in a series of amazing parts. She has appeared in a number of rom-coms or straight-out romances like THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (2009), MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (2011) or THE VOW (2012); films in which she brings her energy and screen charisma to under-written roles. She is one of those actors who can improve an ordinary film with her considerable talents and yet her body of work isn’t filled with notable leads. McAdams herself has expressed a lack of interest in being a movie star and her appearances in more serious, auteur-driven fare like Terrence Malick’s TO THE WONDER (2012) and Anton Corbijn’s A MOST WANTED MAN (2014) bear out that idea. Her Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in SPOTLIGHT (2015) also supports the notion that she is looking meatier roles, whether or not she is the lead.
For those of us who have wanted to see McAdams’ comedic skills better employed ever since her terrific turn as Regina George in MEAN GIRLS, her latest film GAME NIGHT, is a step in the right direction. She is part of a strong comedic ensemble including Jason Bateman, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Sharon Horgan and Jesse Plemons. The premise is engaging; a group of friends have a regular game night which, on one particular evening, takes an unexpected and dangerous turn. And the execution of the comedy and thriller elements is most entertaining.
AccessReel was lucky enough to get an interview with McAdams about her participation in her new movie GAME NIGHT.
QUESTION: What drew you to Game Night?
RACHEL McADAMS: Well, I love doing comedy and physical comedy because they are endlessly challenging. I also loved the opportunity to work with Jason Bateman again. I’ve always admired him as both a dramatic and comedic actor. Ten years ago, we worked together for one day on the dramatic film State of Play, which is very different from Game Night. So, this was a great opportunity to get to team up with him again in an entirely different way.
I really liked the directors’ vision, which was to mix thriller elements with the comedy. That was a unique and smart approach.I love a game night, too, so I already knew a little about that aspect of the film.
QUESTION: You and Jason play husband and wife, and you have great chemistry together. Was that evident right away?
RACHEL McADAMS: Sometimes, on-screen pairings are just the luck of the draw. But we had already connected as actors years ago. Jason’s such a supportive actor and gives you a lot to work with. He’s also a producer on Game Night, so he was very invested in it being as strong as it could be. Basically, he’s a wonderful and warm person and actor, So, yes, I think it was easy to share some onscreen chemistry!
QUESTION: Are you competitive like your character, Annie, in Game Night?
RACHEL McADAMS: I think it depends on the game. My parents bought us board games every Christmas; we were a big gaming family. My siblings and I came back to it as young adults, picking up where we left off as kids. I would say I’m very competitive with them. But, I also know that feeling of being at someone’s game night for the first time, and just wanting the world to swallow you up; you don’t want any attention. So, I can be very shy, too. It depends on the game and who I’m playing with. If it’s with people new to me, then I try and tone down my competitiveness.
QUESTION: On this film, you worked with two directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. What was that experience like?
RACHEL McADAMS: Before production began, I didn’t know how it was going to go because I had never worked with two directors before. So, I thought it could be a little schizophrenic (laughs). But working with John and Jonathan as a team felt very organic. You could go to either of them, for anything, because they were terrific at answering our questions. And, usually the conversation ended with all three of us talking about it. We’d all eventually get together and brainstorm, and it was very collaborative and inclusive. You get two directors for the price of one!
QUESTION: Was there a particularly fun or memorable moment on set
RACHEL McADAMS: We kicked off production with a cast game night. Billy Magnussen, who plays Ryan, is an amazing cook, and he made dinner for everyone at his apartment and we all played raunchy board games. We played the game Clue, which is not raunchy, as well as Joking Hazard, which is kind of like the game Apples to Apples meets the game Crimes Against Humanity. Joking Hazard is a dark board game and not for the faint of heart, but it was a great icebreaker for us. We’re a really ‘Method’ ensemble, and it was a nice way to bond. It was just a great night.
QUESTION: Was it so ‘Method’ that it became cutthroat, as it does with your characters in the film?
RACHEL McADAMS: No, we were all very polite and respectful of one another (laughs).
QUESTION: What do you hope audiences take away from Game Night?
RACHEL McADAMS: It’s a really fun romp and the thriller elements make it a little different from most comedies. I think audiences will be surprised by that combination and have a really great time with it.