New actress on the block

Rachel McAdams completes movie triptych in 2005

When it comes to its breakthrough stars, the Hollywood Awards likes them to do triple duty.

Jake Gyllenhaal headlined “Brokeback Mountain,” “Jarhead” and “Proof” in 2005. His femme counterpart at the awards, Rachel McAdams, is less well-known but has been equally busy this year, playing Owen Wilson’s elegant fiancee in “Wedding Crashers,” a cool workaholic in Wes Craven’s thriller “Red Eye” and a grumpy daughter in “The Family Stone.”

For McAdams, this year’s good news is an upward trajectory that began last year with her bitchy turn as Lindsay Lohan’s blond tormentor in “Mean Girls.” Within weeks of that film’s release, she pulled off a complete switch as the romantically conflicted Southern heroine of “The Notebook,” another summer sleeper.

“It’s so much about timing,” she said. “With ‘Mean Girls’ coming out right before ‘The Notebook,’ they were so different and I got to show some range and people responded.

Born in London, Ontario, McAdams started acting at 12 in a children’s theater production of Woody Allen’s “Death,” of all things. Sixteen years later, Wilson gives the following recommendation of his “Wedding Crashers” co-star: “Sometimes in the morning I’d see some of Rachel’s lines (and I would’ve already changed my lines) and think like, ‘Gosh, she has some really corny lines today. I don’t know how this is going to work.’ But she could really do it and that’s when I realized how good she was. She could take any line and kind of put like a little twist on it that would make it good. That might be the mark of a good actor.”

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