Rachel McAdams Interview STATE OF PLAY

     April 14, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

A few weeks ago I attended two press days for “State of Play”. The first one was as a reporter for Collider, and the second was for our partner website Omelete out of Brazil. As you’ve seen if you’ve watched any video on Collider…there are two logos embedded – one is Collider’s and one is Omelete. That’s because we’re partners, and whenever either site gets anything we share it. Anyway, while Collider was only offered a roundtable spot at the junket, Omelete got TV.

Since I know some of you prefer watching video interviews and some of you prefer reading them, I’m offering both interviews. Of course this wouldn’t be possible without the help of Omelete, so a big thank you to them.

Anyway, let’s get to why you’re here.

Opening this Friday is director Kevin Macdonald’s (“Last King of Scotland”) “State of Play”. The film is based on the BBC mini-series from a few years ago and it’s about a team of investigative reporters that work alongside a police detective to try to solve the murder of a congressman’s mistress. And just like the BBC version, the film is loaded with great actors like Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, Helen Mirren and Jeff Daniels. While I never saw the BBC series, I really liked this movie. It’s a smart thriller that’s definitely worth checking out. Here’s the synopsis:

Russell Crowe plays an investigative journalist embroiled in a case of seemingly unrelated, brutal murders. Crowe plays D.C. reporter Cal McAffrey, whose street smarts lead him to untanglea mystery of murderand collusionamong some of thenation’s most promising political and corporate figures in “State of Play”.

Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck)is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyesare upon the rising star to be his party’s contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistressis brutally murdered and buried secretscome tumbling out.

McAffreyhas the dubious fortune of both an old friendship with Collins and a ruthless editor, Cameron (Helen Mirren), who has assigned him to investigate. As he and partner Della (Rachel McAdams) try to uncover the killer’s identity, McAffreysteps into a cover-up thatthreatens to shake the nation’s power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, hewill discover one truth:when billions are at stake, no one’s integrity, love or life is ever safe.

Anyway, Rachel was great during both interviews and she told some funny stories about working with the exceptional cast and she also talked about “Sherlock Holmes”. Here’s the video interview and further down is a transcript of my roundtable interview. For some clips from “State of Play” click here, and here’s the audio of my roundtable interview.

Rachel McAdams

· Does it get weird to talk about a film all day long

· What was it about the story that made her want to do the part

· She talks about meeting Russell and Helen for the first time

· Did they do rehearsals and what was that like working with people she respects so highly

· Does she have new respect for journalists/bloggers/reporters

· Sherlock Holmes talk – is the film another example of a bromance

Question: What was it like to be on the other side of the Q & A for a change? Instead of us firing it at you, you got to be the person asking questions.

McAdams: That was pretty fun actually. I was shadowing Journalists a little bit. We were introduced to some people at the Washington Post and it was funny because they were tricky. They would turn the questions around and I would have to keep saying no, this isn’t about me, this is about you. So it was funny, that’s their job and they’re doing it 24-7.

Question: When we talked to Kate Beckinsale for ‘Nothing But the Truth,’ she said she found that the journalism community sort of had their equivalent of the acting community, like the one who gets the awards, the one who everyone resents, who did you find were the corresponding people in the blogging world? What were the parallels to your world?

McAdams: That’s a hard question to answer.

Question: There’s not a Pulitzer for bloggers.

McAdams: There’s not a Pulitzer for bloggers, I don’t think. It’s a bit of a rat race. Actually one of the journalists we were working with, they won some serious awards this year. I can’t remember what it was for. He actually texted me and said we’re winning the awards, and it was quite a big deal. It’s like winning the Oscar for journalism.

Question: Are you addicted to any particular blogs? Any you follow as much as you can?

McAdams: You know I don’t. I listen to the news on the radio, I don’t have a television, and I’m really bad at e-mail.

Question: How about Twitter?

McAdams: I am not a tweeter.

Question: Obviously you know the lingo.

McAdams: Only today. I’ve been completely educated about this today. I heard about Twitter for the first time, and it’s all I’ve heard about ever since. I’m really ignorant.

Question: Did they show you around the Washington Post? Did you go where it was printed or just in the newsroom?

McAdams: We kind of went all over. They took us all over and I met people who worked on-line. I met young people and the people who have been doing it forever. There is a difference, there’s a real shift. It’s interesting.

Question: Did they seem to be getting along with each other?

McAdams: They were on opposite ends of the building [laughs].

Question: Russell [Crowe] was such a gruff, old dog character in the movie, and you were a young whippersnapper. What was the preparation like? Did he pull you aside and try to nurture some type of relationship, or was it like look at the script and I’ll see you on set?

McAdams: We got along really well; we really hit it off so it kind of developed naturally. We had a bit of a disagreement our first meeting, which was true to our characters, so it was kind of perfect. We both had opposing viewpoints and were very stubborn and wouldn’t relent. So we fell into it quite naturally and we became friends and I really enjoyed working with him. So it kind of just happened that way.

Question: The disagreement was?

McAdams: I don’t even remember now, I think it was about giving the photographs to the police or something. I can’t remember who said what, but we were having an argument about something we were going to have an argument about.

Question: With the talent on this film, did you feel a little bit like your character in the sense that you were watching some great actors at work, and learning while playing at the same time?

McAdams: Yeah, I mean I was definitely the least experienced of everyone in that film, so I definitely felt like a bit of a fly on the wall sometimes. And the scenes with Helen [Mirren] and Russell were great to watch them go at each other. And I just kind of sat there and just took it all in. They were really inspiring to watch the way they work.

Question: You must have felt you had the chops to keep up.

McAdams: Well, in comparison I was a little nervous to begin with. My first meeting was with both Russell and Helen at the same time. I admit I was a little shaky, a little nervous and my hands were even shaking when I shook Russell’s hand. But it was great, they were all really supportive and I was really excited to be there.

Question: You don’t have a TV but did you watch the BBC original?

McAdams: Yeah I did, it was great. I had seen that before working on the film and I just thought it was so fantastic and I was really curious as to how Kevin [McDonald] was going to adapt it. I think it’s such relevant subject matter that you can’t go wrong.

Question: Were there things about the way that Kevin McDonald played the character in the TV show that you sort of emulated or wanted to stray away from with your character?

McAdams: I don’t know, yeah you just kind of make it your own. The script was so different from the original series, that it was kind of just a whole new animal. Quite different.

Question: If you’re not online that much, do you subscribe to newspapers?

McAdams: I don’t subscribe to newspapers. I really do listen to the radio, I listen to CBC, NPR and I find it’s something you can multi-task to. You know eat your breakfast, and drive, and get your news at the same time.

Question: What was it like for you to be thrown into the political machine?

McAdams: Yeah, we spent some time on Capital Hill as well, and there was this guy there that’s been in that world for probably his whole life and he kind of took us around and took me around and introduced me to some of the politicians. He took me to some press conferences, and I sat with some Congressmen, and I got that side of things as well. It was so valuable, actually shooting in Washington itself at a time where there was all this election fever and it was a great education.

Question: As a public figure yourself, how is your relationship with the media? Is it a love/hate kind of thing?

McAdams: Yeah, I mean it’s sort of a catch 22. You have to bring awareness to things that you’re doing, and that’s the way that world works, but you also want your privacy. It’s hard to balance those two things and walk that line.

Question: Did you fight for this project? Did you read the script and want to get involved? How did you come to this project?

McAdams: Kevin and I had a conversation about it and Della a little bit and would I be right for it, and his take on it. It just kind of started with a conversation and went from there.

Question: When you were meeting with the director, did you watch any of his previous work? Were you a fan of his work? Did you see ‘Last King of Scotland?’

McAdams: Yeah I had seen ‘Last King of Scotland,” I thought it was great and I just really enjoyed Kevin. He’s one of the nicest men I’ve ever met. He’s so calm and so collected, and this was a big ship to steer in many different ways and I think he just did it with such grace and he was really calm and soothing to be around. Which is not always the case when you’ve got that much pressure on you; he was just really outstanding under pressure.

Question: Would you ever try your hand at writing some blogs?

McAdams: Well I do actually write a little blog with two of my friends, which is called Green Is Sexy. So I get a lot of practice. We have a tip that changes every day and we spotlight people and places, so that’s sort of where I get some practice.

Question: Do you do this under your name?

McAdams: Yup.

Question: Do you want to give a shout out for the actual URL?

McAdams: For the URL? Oh, it’s greenissexy.org.

Question: This is environment green?

McAdams: Yeah. Actually if you go to greenissexy.com, it’s a different story. Ours is .org, emphasis on org.

Question: What made you get involved with that?

McAdams: We were just talking one day, a good friend of mine and I, and just realized we both had a real passion for it and wanted to do something. And then we have a friend that’s a real computer wiz, and we just thought this is something with a low footprint that we could all do from whatever city we were in. And that is one of the greatest things about the internet is that you can become part of this community and you can find people who really care about the things that you care about so quickly and so efficiently in bringing people and information together. So it was kind of born from there, and we’ve been doing it for about two years.

Question: You said earlier you not so good with e-mail, are you getting better with it?

McAdams: I had to get better with computers in general. They were tired of my phone calls, how do I cut and paste? Yeah, it’s been a great education actually and I think it’s so important to stay with the times and keep on top of that stuff. And it’s changing weather you want it to or not, so there’s great advantaged to technology.

Question: You have a pretty big year where you have this film, you finally have ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ coming out and you just wrapped on ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ what’s this year going to be for you?

McAdams: Oh, who knows, it’s going to be busy, that’s for sure. It’s already busy. I don’t know, it’s exciting, I’m really glad that everything’s coming out, I’m glad it’s not all coming out on top of each other. I’m really excited the films are all very different, which is great, and we’ll see what happens.

Question: We’ve been talking about ‘The Time Travelers Wife’ for a long time, what’s the holdup?

McAdams: We wound up doing a reshoot and Eric [Bana] was the hold up, he had to shave his head for a different role. For ‘Star Trek,’ I think. And so we were waiting on his hair.

Question: What had to be reshot?

McAdams: It wasn’t really reshot, we did an additional scene in the meadow so we were also waiting on the meadow to look the way it did, so we were waiting on the seasons. Basically we were waiting on nature and Eric’s hair [laughs].

Question: Have you seen the final film, because there are a lot of people out there who are very curious about it, like me?

McAdams: I haven’t seen it recently; I saw a cut quite a long time ago, a very, very rough cut. So I haven’t seen it in a while. From what I remember then, it’s quite focused on the relationship. There is time travel in it, obviously, and it’s kind of cool in the way that they deal with it. And his shoes kind of clicked down the stairs and some cool shots with that. But really Robert Schwentke, the director, he really explored the relationship and how you carry on with the love of your life when you have this imposition, to say the least.

Question: What can you tell us about ‘Sherlock Holmes?’ What can you tease us about the sensibility and how it may be different from other ‘Sherlock Holmes’ incarnations?

McAdams: I mean it’s pretty big. I didn’t realize how big it really was until I stepped on the sets and they were just massive. And it’s in true Guy Ritchie fashion too, it’s lots of fighting and explosions. From what I’ve seen, obviously Robert Downey Jr. is an amazing actor and so is Jude Law and they make a wonderful duo. You know I think some people are probably skeptical about, everybody has their preconceived notions about Watson in particular. Everyone’s very much like, Watson’s supposed to be like this and anyway I just think Jude is a perfect Watson, oddly enough. They’re really perfect together. That’s kind of the love story, actually. I play, supposedly, Sherlock’s love interest, but it’s really Watson [laughs].

Question: You said you were surprised, did you expect it to be a British costume parlor drama?

McAdams: Well, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be kind of a satire of Sherlock Holmes in some ways, or if they really would want to boost up the comedy. It’s a really nice balance of the two, it’s quite serious and quite heart pumping, and at the same time there’s humor and these light moments too. I’ve seen just a little sizzle reel of it and it looks beautiful.

Question: Did you wear any cool costumes?

McAdams: Yeah I did. I get the best of both worlds because Irene goes undercover and she wears men’s clothes, but she also wears these beautiful, really outlandish bussells and she wears hot pink all the time. She’s not afraid to stand out in a crowd.

Question: Does that get you into character?

McAdams: Oh yeah, it’s so helpful.

Question: When you were talking to some of the reporters at the post, did any of them indicate that they had ever been in similar situations as in this film? Being shot at, diving under cars, stuff like that.

McAdams: There were a few times where RV who was kind of consulting on set, he would stick his head in and say you guys know this doesn’t actually happen. It’s totally illegal to be taping this person, or whatever it was, so he’d kind of reign us in sometimes. Or sometimes we’d veto him and say ‘Shhh! It’s a Hollywood film.’ But some people, especially in Washington, they talk about not being able to reveal their sources and having had to make some really difficult decisions sometimes when you know people’s reputations or their lives are on the line. And they’re dealing with the law and they’re dealing with politicians, and I think it can get kind of heavy duty.

Question: How do you think Della’s different at the end of the movie from the beginning? What’s the character’s journey?

McAdams: Well I think her and Cal sort of meet somewhere in the middle. I think that she realizes that it’s hard to be objective and be a great reporter. I think she realizes that things aren’t so straightforward and that it’s hard to have a sexy story and tell the truth. I think she just comes to realize that things aren’t so cut and dry and that it’s kind of a tough gig, especially when you get out from behind the computer [laughs].

Question: And no spell check.

McAdams: And no spell check. And wasn’t that great that old dinosaur computer that we had, classic.

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