The Family Stone

SOUND BITES
Which director would you like to work with that you haven’t before? “Jane Campion and Michel Gondry. With Jane, I like the way she moves the camera and how close she gets to people. As for Michel, I love his collaboration with Charlie Kaufman and the way he breaks time-line boundaries.”

How do actors balance commerce vs. art? “In an industry where it’s business first and art second, this comes up all the time. If I listen to the commercial side too much, I feel a little bit like a prisoner or a kept actress. It’s always important to do the things you love, but they so rarely pay well. It’s a pact you have to make with yourself and hard to stick to it.”

Up next: “It’s still a mystery to me what’s on my horizon. I have no idea. I’m reading scripts, books and working on my house (near Toronto).”

Rachel McAdams has played her fair share of love interests (“The Notebook,” “The Wedding Crashers”) and excels at being the bad girl (“The Hot Chick,” “Mean Girls”), but she favors the latter — the more complex the better.

“The ingenue has its place but it’s not as much fun,” McAdams says. “I prefer the unlikable characters. I’d probably play them for the rest of my career if I could.”

In her latest work, “The Family Stone,” the Canuck native gets to dig into her most layered unlikable yet. Different from the cruel but popular high schoolers she played in “Mean Girls” and “Hot Chick,” “Stone’s” Amy is a kind person deep down but has issues that are causing her to lash out at the fiance her brother brings home for Christmas.

It was a role that McAdams had been drawn to since the first time she cracked the script. “I’d read the script a few years ago,” McAdams recalls. “It’s one of those scripts that I remember exactly where I was when I read it. It just really hit me. Amy felt so complicated and had a lot of love to give. She’s a person that’s so protective of her family, but it’s a confused love issue for Amy — and that’s fun to explore.”

On set, writer-director Tom Bezucha let her run with it. “Tom struck a nice balance on set between allowing you to find things yourself and giving you specific direction. He wrote it, so he could encourage you in certain directions but without telling you what to do. He encouraged me not to hold back, saying, ‘There’s no such thing as being too rotten.’ And he told me not to play any of the sadness; you don’t need to see it until the end.”

Bezucha helped McAdams find a scruffy look for Amy, who favors the kind of baggy PJ bottoms and worn T-shirts that project her living-with-her-parents depressed state. “We had fun times in the wardrobe room figuring out what this girl would look like,” she says.

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