Why: Standout turns in “Mean Girls” and “The Notebook” earned her notice last year. This year, McAdams is a woman stuck on an airplane — kidnapped by the vicious man in the seat beside her — in the upcoming Wes Craven psycho-thriller “Red Eye.” She’s also in “The Family Stone” and comedy “The Wedding Crashers.”
Fear this: “You sort of drop in any sense of fear that you have in your past and try to maximize it by one hundred,” she says of her character in “Red Eye.” “Add your worst fears coming true on top of that, and you’re pretty much there.”
Sometimes Canadian-born McAdams supports, sometimes she leads. She aims to keep doing both.
In the upcoming holiday-themed ensemble “The Family Stone,” from writer-director Thomas Bezucha, McAdams plays Diane Keaton’s daughter, Luke Wilson’s sister and Claire Danes’ nemesis.
Bedazzled by acting: “It really comes at the strangest moments,” she says. “But when they happen it’s like all the stars are aligned and something kind of cosmic and otherworldly happens. … I found it the last day when I had a scene with Christopher Walken (in ‘The Wedding Crashers’).”
Walken plays her father. At the very end, he offers her relationship advice that’s hard to hear — and even harder to act against.
“You can’t go around (Walken) — you have to go through him. He has such a presence,” she says. “My very first scene was dancing with him in a huge ballroom with hundreds of people looking at us alone on a dance floor so I was terrified, but by the end of the film I think I’d relaxed enough that we could find each other.”
Support or star: “Nick Cassavetes told me it’s hard to be a lead actress because you have to be a hero,” she says. “When you’re supporting you get to play around, you don’t have to be the hero, the moral, upstanding, beautiful character. Sometimes I prefer supporting.”