Rachel McAdams talks "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."
Who can forget that special time when things were starting to happen … changing from a child into an adult, when it's "a little confusing at times"? We've all seen films like "Molly Grows Up," but the book that might've described those times best is Judy Blume's landmark (and often controversial) 1970 novel, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret."
Now, Blume's tale of adolescent angst is a feature film. Abby Ryder Fortson is Margaret, and her understanding mom is Oscar-nominated actor Rachel McAdams.
Smith asked McAdams, "People love this book. Judy Blume wouldn't let anyone make a movie about it for 50 years. So, did you feel that pressure?"
"Yeah, just a little bit!" McAdamas laughed. "We all just wanted to make Judy proud, really."
McAdams does herself proud as a woman trying to balance motherhood and career. It's a far cry from her breakout role as the utterly toxic Regina George, meanest of the "Mean Girls."
Rachel McAdams, with Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried, and the fetch-ing Lacey Chabert, in "Mean Girls":
"I remember where I was when I read that script for the first time," said McAdams, "and I put it down, and I immediately called my manager and said, 'Please, I will do anything to be any part in this movie. … Give me one line!'"
But she could not be more different than the diva you see on screen.
Born and raised in a working-class family in Ontario, Canada, Rachel McAdams loved theater, but she was also an accomplished figure skater, with a part-time job in fast food. "It taught me hard work," she said. "And I was kind of a bit of a germaphobe when I started working at McDonald's, and then I kind of got over that. Not that it's, like, particularly dirty or anything! But I was kind of, like, an obsessive hand-washer when I was younger, which was really terrible as a figure skater. Because, like, washing your hands all the time at the ice rink and then going out with wet hands on the ice? I mean, my hands were a mess!"
Smith asked, "Can you still eat McDonald's now?"
"Yeah, oh yeah. Love it. When I was pregnant, I said to my partner, one night we came out of a movie here in L.A. It was, like, 11:00 at night, and I was, like, 'Take me to the first McDonald's. I want a fish fillet and a chocolate milkshake.' And he was like, 'Oh, you're pregnant!'"
But between McDonalds and motherhood, she broke hearts in Hollywood. "The Notebook," which came out in 2004 (the same year as "Mean Girls"), is a film some people can't even talk about without choking up.
Watch Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in that scene from "The Notebook":
Even as she read for the role opposite Ryan Gosling, as seen in her audition tape, McAdams had a feeling it was hers. "I felt like my life was about to change," she said.
Smith asked, "Did it change?"
"It did, it did."
In fact, it seemed that she was suddenly everywhere, in movies big and small. But McAdams said it might've been too much, too fast.
"There's 'Wedding Crashers,' 'Red Eye,' 'Family Stone.' And then, you left?" asked Smith
"I didn't make a conscious decision to leave necessarily, but I did kind of make a decision to pause," McAdams replied. "I didn't think I was dealing so well with my life changing so quickly and being so much in the public eye. I was struggling with that a little bit, with the exposure. It did allow me to just find myself, center myself in it, and know I could live without it if I had to. If suddenly tomorrow they all decide, 'You suck! You can't be here anymore, you're outta the club,' well, I left the club first!"
And she did leave, for about two years, and turned down parts in movies like "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Iron Man." But when she came back, it wasn't for a star vehicle; she just wanted to be a working actor.
Rachel McAdams and Richard O'Rourke in "Spotlight":
Her performance in 2015's "Spotlight," as a Boston Globe reporter on the hunt for pedophile Catholic priests, earned her an Oscar nod.
And now she's found another fulfilling role alongside Kathy Bates, as a mom. She shot "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." just after the birth of her second child, balancing motherhood and career. "It was real method acting I guess!" McAdams laughed. "Yeah, I was breast-feeding and pumping on the side, and my daughter was five months old, I think, at the time. And so, you know, I just had to give the signal. 'Yes, it's time!' They go, 'Okay, you go right ahead.'"
It's clear she enjoys her life right now: Rachel McAdams has found what works, and if it doesn't, there's always the door.
Smith asked, "Do you think you might take another step back at some point?"
"I don't know. For me, acting doesn't feel easy," she replied. "Like, it always feels like, 'Oh, I don't know what I'm doing.' And you know, I never feel like I can totally relax doing it. So, you know, doing a project or two a year really, you know, it fills my cup. Right now, I'm not feeling like I'm needing to shut it down!"
To watch a trailer for "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.," click on the video player below:
For more info:
- "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret." opens in theaters April 28
- "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." By Judy Blume (Atheneum Books for Young Readers), available in Hardcover, Paperback, eBook and Audio formats via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indiebound
- Thanks to Annabelle's Book Club L.A. in Los Angeles
- The Book Truck
- Let America Read
Story produced by John D'Amelio. Editor: Carol Ross.
- From 2015: Judy Blume: Resilient, in life and fiction ("Sunday Morning")
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