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Canadian actress Rachel McAdams first came to the attention of U.S. audiences playing a pair of über-bitchy teen queens in both "The Hot Chick" (2004) and "Mean Girls" (2004). Thanks to those rather harsh characters, audiences were understandably surprised by her effectively heartwarming performances in the sentimental Nicholas Sparks romance "The Notebook" (2004) and as a likeable girl-next-door in the comedy smash "Wedding Crashers" (2005). The sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette, sometimes pink-haired actress enjoyed roles just as unpredictable as her appearance, delivering all of them with the same sparkling panache as her flair for personal style. Her romances with actors Ryan Gosling, Josh Lucas and Michael Sheen fascinated the press and fans alike, proving the actress' appeal extended beyond the screen. After turning to horror for the compelling "Red Eye" (2005), McAdams threw moviegoers for a loop yet again with starring roles in the retro thriller "Married Life" (2008) and in an adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Traveler's Wife" (2008), before playing a junior reporter in the political thriller "State of Play" (2009). That same year, she co-starred in the studio blockbuster "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) and later reprised her role in the sequel, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011), while starring opposite Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" (2011), starring in the second season of cable drama "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ), and receiving an Academy Award nomination for her work in the ensemble drama "Spotlight" (2015). Thanks to wide-ranging performances and an utterly likable onscreen persona, McAdams kept audiences on their toes in a variety of films.
Rachel McAdams was born on Oct. 7, 1978 in London, Ontario and was raised in the nearby town of St. Thomas. She began figure skating at the age of four and competed in the sport all the way through high school, earning regional honors. At 10 years old, she also became involved with the Original Kids Theatre Company in London, appearing in productions of Shakespeare and other classics. She won her first acting award in 1995 when a high school play "I Live In A Little Town" was featured in the Ontario Showcase of the Sears Drama Festival. McAdams had not planned to pursue acting beyond her high school graduation in 1997, but thanks to the encouragement of a teacher, she entered the Drama program at York University in Toronto. She performed in numerous student films and stage productions and began working with Toronto's renowned Necessary Angels Theater Company, before graduating from York with honors and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
McAdams remained in Toronto after college, with the town's burgeoning production industry proving a great place to start making inroads to TV and film. She made her first onscreen performance on "The Famous Jett Jackson" (Disney, 1998-2002) as Hannah, the bulimic older sister of one of the main characters. She went on to star in several movies-of-the-week, before making her feature debut with a co-starring role in "My Name is Tanino" (2001), a comedy about a young, carefree Italian (Corrado Fortuna) who chases an American tourist (McAdams) to America after a romantic liaison in his hometown. A breakout role in the Canadian feature "Perfect Pie" (2002) hinted that the actress had much bigger Hollywood potential. Her performance as the best friend of a small town girl who makes it big won her a nomination for a Genie Award, Canada's equivalent to the Oscar.
Many actors who tried to transfer international success to the American screen suffered years of struggle, but McAdams had a unique, genuine charisma that landed her a big role as soon as she ventured to Hollywood. In 2002, she was cast in a starring role in "The Hot Chick" (2002), a teen comedy about a mean-spirited high school girl - popular captain of the cheerleading squad and dating the quarterback - who gets a heavy comeuppance when she wakes up to find herself trapped in the body of a thirty-something man (Rob Schneider). McAdams tried another more successful turn as a believable mean-spirited high schooler in "Mean Girls" (2004), a Tina Fey-penned critical and box office hit starring Lindsay Lohan. This time, McAdams delved deep into her character by exploring the machine-like quality of wanting to hurt people just for the fun of it. At the same time, she also brought a surprising level of sympathy to her spoiled princess character. Following her big American splash with "Mean Girls," McAdams returned to Canadian TV, playing a young starstruck actress on "Slings and Arrows" (2003-05), a comedy about a small town theater company.
Back on the big screen, McAdams was on the hunt for imaginative scripts with challenging characters and her search paid off with "The Notebook" (2004), a star-crossed period romance between a spunky Southern debutante and a poor but charming small town man (Ryan Gosling). An effectively sentimental and emotional film, "The Notebook" proved to be McAdams' breakout performance - the actress popped off the screen in nearly every scene she was in, running the full spectrum of emotion, and embodying a mature, classic Hollywood star quality that made directors take notice. And much to the delight of romantics everywhere, she and co-star Gosling paired up in real-life, enjoying a promising future as one of young Hollywood's hippest and most private young couples until their breakup in 2007.
Hot on the heels of several hits and being proclaimed "America's Sweetheart," McAdams followed up with the Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn smash comedy "Wedding Crashers" (2005), adding sparkle and verve to what might have otherwise been a thankless role as the woman who finally snares an inveterate wedding invader's heart. On a roll, she then took center stage in the Wes Craven thriller "Red Eye" (2005), playing a resourceful hotel employee who finds herself trapped on an airline flight with a menacing stranger (Cillian Murphy) who terrorizes her to switch the room of a political guest at her hotel in exchange for her father's life. Again McAdams demonstrated a strong onscreen magnetism and proved she could create a believable, relatable character in the midst of the most high-concept situation.
She next joined the ensemble cast of "The Family Stone" (2005), a smart dramedy about the eldest son (Dermot Mulroney) of a bohemian family who brings his controlling New York girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) home for the holidays. The ensuing battle of conflicting attitudes mixed with awkwardness and hostility causes relationships to split and secrets to be revealed. In McAdams' next feature, the neo-Noir "Married Life" (2007) she had the opportunity to test her comparisons to Golden Age leading ladies like Kim Novak by playing a 1940s-era dame involved in a murderous affair. Following that film, McAdams had a banner year in 2009 with three major releases. The year started with "State of Play," a political thriller in which she played a reporter who helps a colleague (Russell Crowe) uncover a murder tied to a U.S. congressman (Ben Affleck). She next took a romantic lead opposite Eric Bana in the dramatic fantasy "The Time Traveler's Wife" (2009) and rounded out her productive year with "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), playing femme fatale and love interest to the famous detective (Robert Downey, Jr.).
After playing a morning show producer opposite Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton in "Morning Glory" (2010), McAdams reprised her femme fatale role for "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011). She next played the demanding fiancée of a successful but dissatisfied Hollywood screenwriter (Owen Wilson) in Woody Allen's return to prominence, "Midnight in Paris" (2011), before revisiting Nicholas Sparks territory opposite Channing Tatum in "The Vow"(2012). By this point in her life, she had wrapped her brief romance with Josh Lucas and began dating Welsh actor Michael Sheen, whom she met on the set of "Midnight in Paris." As they had during her time with Gosling, the press descended on Sheen and McAdams as they attempted to keep their relationship private.
In 2013, McAdams and Sheen split, and three notably different films featuring the actress were released. She was paired with Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick's art-house meditation on love and life "To the Wonder," which was met with a muted reception, and worked with another renowned director, Brian De Palma, in "Passion," a steamy but little-seen thriller co-starring Noomi Rapace. During the fall of that year, she returned to lighter romantic fare in Richard Curtis' fantasy-tinged "About Time," with McAdams once again portraying a woman drawn to a time-traveling man, in this case a Brit played by Domhnall Gleeson. She next starred in director Anton Corbjin's adaptation of the John Le Carré spy novel "A Most Wanted Man" (2014) and Wim Wenders' "Everything Will Be Fine" (2015). A co-starring role in Cameron Crowe's critically-drubbed romantic comedy-drama "Aloha" (2015) was followed by the female lead in Antoine Fuqua's gritty boxing drama "Southpaw." McAdams turned to television in the second season of the acclaimed police drama "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ), then appeared as real-life Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer in the journalism drama "Spotlight" (2015), about the paper's uncovering of a widespread sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
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