Ever since her breakout role in The Notebook, Rachel McAdams has worked constantly making such films as Red Eye, The Wedding Crashers, Married Life, The Time Traveler’s Wife and Sherlock Holmes.
In her new comedy Morning Glory, McAdams plays Becky Fuller, who has just landed her dream job, as producer of the national morning news show Daybreak. But the incredible opportunity turns into a disaster when the show anchorman, a legendary and cranky newscaster, Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford), is totally uncooperative. To resolve the situation, Becky decides to bring in Colleen Peck (Diane Keaton), a former morning show diva to co-host with Pomeroy.
Did you feel a kinship with Becky?
I think a lot of young people have had the experience where you come in fresh to a brand new job and suddenly you find yourself up against a bunch of seasoned professionals who want to do things their way. What I love is that Becky takes that situation head-on, approaches it with the same amount of vigor she brings to everything she does, and turns it upside down.
Aline Brosh McKenna is such a great writer and she knows her characters so well that she was great to have involved in the process. It was really exciting for me to be able to talk to her throughout the production, to get ideas from her and bounce new thoughts off her, and we were constantly adding little bits here and there and enhancing the character.
Becky is a bit more of an action hero than I expected. There was a lot of running up and down stairs and all over the place, as she tries to wrangle all these different people with their different agendas, so that was a fun surprise.
What kind of research did you do?
I talked to everyone – the producers, the people who book the stories, the camera operators, the guys in the control room – to try to understand how it happens from every possible angle. I discovered that there’s a whole different language that goes on back there.
Everything moves so quickly. One minute people are panicking and freaking out and it gets really heated and the next minute they’re joking, laughing and off to lunch. What really made an impression was the high-wire nature of live television – that once you say or do something on the air, you can’t take it back. That’s terrifying.
We were fortunate enough to be invited into the control room of Good Morning America and Today Show, and The Early Show and just shadowed some producers there. There are not a lot of female executive producers, it’s very uncommon. I think there has only been a handful at those bigger shows. I’ve realized it’s actually easier to be actress than an executive producer on a morning television show. You have a little bit more time to yourself.
What was working with Harrison Ford like?
Harrison played Mike beautifully. He’s so deadpan, so dry, so sarcastic, I really felt like I couldn’t budge him! He was understated, yet so full. It was just exciting to interact with him.
And you also got to work with Diane Keaton, another film icon.
What I love about Diane is that she plays Colleen so you can see the heart underneath, so you can see this is a woman who is willing to do anything, even dress up in a sumo suit, to get people to laugh, to get them to smile, to get them watching in the morning. She made Colleen funny and tough, but vulnerable as well.
Do you watch these shows in the morning?
I listen to the radio. The first thing I do is turn on the radio to CBC in Canada and I’ve really gotten into podcasts lately too.