Rachel McAdams

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3 mins read

Rachel Anne McAdams was born November 17, 1978 and is a Canadian actress.

After graduating from a four-year theater degree program at York University in 2001, she worked in Canadian television and film productions, such as the drama film Perfect Pie (2002), for which she received a Genie Award nomination, the comedy film My Name Is Tanino (2002), and the comedy series Slings and Arrows, for which she won a Gemini Award.

In 2002, she made her Hollywood film debut in the comedy The Hot Chick. McAdams rose to fame in 2004 with the comedy Mean Girls and the romantic drama The Notebook. In 2005, she starred in the romantic comedy Wedding Crashers, the psychological thriller Red Eye, and the comedy-drama The Family Stone.

After a brief sabbatical, she returned to prominence in 2009, by appearing in the political thriller State of Play, the romance The Time Traveler’s Wife, and the mystery film Sherlock Holmes. In 2010, McAdams appeared in her first star vehicle, the comedy Morning Glory, and went on to star in the films Midnight in Paris (2011), The Vow (2012), and About Time (2013). In 2015, she starred in the second season of the HBO crime drama series True Detective, and portrayed the journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in the drama Spotlight. In 2016, she played Christine Palmer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Doctor Strange. In 2018, she starred in the comedy Game Night and the romantic drama Disobedience.

She was born in London, Ontario, to nurse Sandra (née Gale) and truck driver Lance McAdams. She grew up in St. Thomas in a Protestant household. She is the eldest of three children; she has a younger sister, Kayleen McAdams (born 1982), a celebrity make-up artist and a younger brother, Daniel “Dan” McAdams, a personal trainer. McAdams is of Scottish, English, Irish, and Welsh descent. Her maternal fifth great-grandfather, James Gray, was a Loyalist Ranger during the American Revolution and fled to Canada after the Battles of Saratoga.

McAdams began figure skating when she was four years old, but turned down an opportunity to move to Toronto when she was nine years old for pair skating training. She competed in skating until the age of 18, winning regional awards. Skating would later become only a hobby. She has said that skating prepared her for physical acting, because it trained her to be “in tune” with her body.

McAdams was educated at Myrtle Street Public School, and later Central Elgin Collegiate Institute. She has stated that she did not enjoy academic work and often would pretend to be sick to avoid going to school. Nonetheless, she was active in student life. In addition to playing sports (including volleyball, badminton, and soccer), McAdams served on the student council, participated in the Crime Stoppers program, and was a member of the Peer Helping Team. She worked at a McDonald’s restaurant during the summer holidays for three years.

McAdams first developed an interest in performing when she was seven years old and, while her parents did not discourage her, they did not find her an agent. She attended both Disney and Shakespeare summer camps as a child. From the age of 12, McAdams participated in Original Kids Theatre Company, London productions. In her late teens, she directed children’s theatre productions. She was also involved in school stage productions, most notably winning a performance award at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. She was inspired by two of her teachers, who taught her English and drama, respectively, in the 11th and 12th grades. McAdams intended to take cultural studies at the University of Western Ontario, before being persuaded by her drama teacher that a professional acting career was a viable option. She enrolled in York University’s four-year theatre program and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts honours degree in 2001. While at university, McAdams worked with the Toronto-based Necessary Angel Theatre Company.

McAdams is an environmentalist. She ran an eco-friendly lifestyle website, GreenIsSexy.org, with two of her friends for five years from 2007 to 2011. Her house is powered by Bullfrog renewable energy. She travels around Toronto by bicycle and does not own a car, but drives when in Los Angeles because it is a harder town to cycle in. She volunteered in Biloxi, Mississippi and Louisiana in the Fall of 2005, as part of the clean-up effort following Hurricane Katrina.

McAdams sat on a TreeHugger/Live Earth judging panel in 2007. She appealed for donations during the Canada for Haiti telethon in 2010. She was involved in Matter of Trust’s “hair boom” efforts following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In 2011, McAdams supported Foodstock, a protest against a proposed limestone mega quarry in Melancthon, Ontario. In 2013, she filmed two promotional videos for the Food & Water First Movement, aiming to preserve prime farmland and source water in Ontario, Canada. In 2014, she narrated the feature documentary Take Me To The River, which investigates what is being done to try to save iconic rivers.

In 2006, she took part in the “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration in Los Angeles, protesting the federal government’s attempts to further criminalize undocumented immigrants living in the United States. In 2011, she attended the Occupy Toronto demonstration. In 2013, McAdams volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in her hometown of St. Thomas. She has also worked with charities including the Sunshine Foundation of Canada, the Alzheimer’s Association, the READ Campaign, and United Way of Canada. She is a member of Represent.Us, an anti-corruption activist organization, and is part of its creative council.