Rachel McAdams is one of several big-name stars who have shown up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2008, but her role compared to others is downright tiny.
Joining Natalie Portman as a big-name actress who’s relegated to the sideline as a love interest, McAdams helps to humanize Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange.
Despite the smaller role, however, McAdams embraced the challenge of playing Dr. Christine Palmer, letting the filmmakers scare her into giving a better performance.
Rachel McAdams prepares for the MCU
McAdams has been a Hollywood staple for most of the 21st-century. From Mean Girls to Red Eye and everything she’d done since she has what it takes to be a Hollywood leading lady and has proven her worth repeatedly. However, in 2008, when McAdams was offered the role of Pepper Potts, she did not want to be a mere love interest.
Fast-forward several years, however, and she finally joined the MCU as Dr. Christine Palmer. She wanted to add some humanity to a role. While other actors of her stature might want to don the superhero cape and save the universe, she was devoted to making the role a believable force beside Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange.
To do so, she thought back to her mother, a nurse, who helped her get into the mind of a character inside a hospital. To get ready, she trailed real doctors and nurses and tried to make this comic book character seem like a grounded addition to a not-so-grounded universe. This makes her one of the more compelling love interests.
Her devotion to the role, however, was brought to another level.
Hard work pays off
People might think that the actors who play superheroes are the only ones who put in hard work. However, according to Entertainment Weekly, working as a fictional surgeon meant long hours on her feet, lots of running around, and having to put up with all the ins and outs that make these movies bigger than your average film production.
While McAdams occasionally wished that she could don the super suits and fight the bad guys, she also appreciated what she got to do with her role.
“I loved it. I got to wear like orthopedic running shoes every day. And you know, like high heels – the older you get the harder it is to wear them. So I was really grateful for that. And I was a little jealous of the levitation cloak but I was happy to be comfortable.”
Still, Palmer is an important character who helps the hero reach his ultimate goal, and this meant keeping McAdams on her toes and trying to get as real a reaction as possible. For one scene, this meant surprising her out of the blue.
Getting in character
When Palmer is guided through the hospital by Doctor Strange during one particular scene, she’s supposed to be on edge. Not only is her love fighting someone who holds the future of the universe in their hands, but she doesn’t know what to make of him and his powers.
When he brings her to a closet, a broom falls, and Palmer screams. This was not scripted. McAdams was on edge and in character, and when the broom fell, it helped her get a natural reaction.
McAdams spoke about this dynamic with Clever Housewife.
“You hope they get it on the first one because that is usually startling, the first time. And then you just kind of fake it the rest of the time. They were very kind of helpful in you know….I was never quite sure where the startling was coming from, the sounds were coming from…. I’m also a total scaredy-cat in real life. So you know it’s not a far stretch for me.”
McAdams might not be the first name Marvel fans associate with the MCU, but her dedication to the role might help her resonate next time she dons the scrubs in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Hopefully, she’ll summon that same energy that led to scenes like this.
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