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‘Hol­ly­wood Is Chang­ing For Women’

Look (UK) - - NEWS STORY - WORDS: Han­nah Banks-walker

here we are, in a swanky ho­tel room, watch­ing as Rachel Mca­dams springs up from her chair (in Louboutins, no less) to ad­just the air-con­di­tion­ing. We hap­pened to men­tion that we felt a bit chilly,and she’s only too will­ing to cor­rect that. Yes, the 38-year-old re­ally is that nice.

We’re here to chat about her lat­est role as Dr Chris­tine Palmer op­po­site Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in Marvel’s block­buster Dr Strange. Along the way, we dis­cover that not only is she nice (and flaw­lessly beau­ti­ful) she’s also a su­per-hard worker who still gets but­ter­flies be­fore hit­ting the red car­pet. As well as all that, she’s our new best friend, al­though she might not know that yet…

Tell us about your char­ac­ter, Chris­tine. She’s so in­ter­est­ing and su­per-clever… Oh, thank you. We pick up where Dr Strange and Chris­tine have been through a whole re­la­tion­ship and have come out the other side and are friends now. They’re very dif­fer­ent kinds of doc­tor. She’s more boots on the ground; she just tries to save ev­ery life that comes across her path and doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate be­tween who de­serves that and who doesn’t, and Dr Strange is more... par­tic­u­lar [laughs]. But I think they have mu­tual re­spect for one another and a re­ally deep, pro­found friend­ship be­tween them. You’re known for be­ing very metic­u­lous in your prepa­ra­tion for roles. How did you pre­pare for this? I think it’s the thing I love most about my job, that you get to live so many lives in one life­time. I have a bit of ADD when it comes to things, so va­ri­ety is the spice of life for me. My mum was a nurse and I just don’t pos­sess that gene so I was al­ways fas­ci­nated. It’s a job that takes so much guts. I shad­owed a re­ally great fe­male neu­ro­sur­geon in Toronto, and one here in Lon­don, who taught me how to do stitches. It was very med­i­ta­tive, like knit­ting. When I was bored on set I would just pull out my… stitch­ing wire? I don’t even know what it’s called – some doc­tor I am! But I would prac­tise and it was great to jump into another world. Your scenes in­volve a lot of spe­cial ef­fects and CGI. That must be quite daunt­ing. How did you ap­proach it? When I read one of the scenes I was si­mul­ta­ne­ously daunted and ex­cited be­cause it was like noth­ing I’d ever seen be­fore. It was fresh and dif­fer­ent and weird. It was like chore­ograph­ing a dance. And Bene­dict was ac­tu­ally there for a lot of it, up on wires, fly­ing around the room for hours on end. It feels like things are chang­ing for women in Hol­ly­wood… Yeah it’s mov­ing – some­times it moves slowly and you have to be pa­tient with it, but it’s ex­cit­ing that it’s such a topic of con­ver­sa­tion. I think the way to ev­ery­thing is ed­u­ca­tion. Knowl­edge is power. What was it like to work with Bene­dict? Did you know he came with an army of Cum­ber­bitches? We were kind of out in the mid­dle of nowhere film­ing so the Cum­ber­fans didn’t want to come out as far as we were work­ing. I lived in Chiswick, Twickenham… Bene­dict, Scott [Der­rick­son, the di­rec­tor] and I were all over the place. I got to know it re­ally well. Of­ten it was just Bene­dict and me and Scott in a hos­pi­tal room hav­ing a chat, you know? So you kind of lose sight of how big it is and then you go to the world pre­miere, you’re stand­ing on that car­pet and peo­ple are go­ing in­sane. You’re brought back to the re­al­ity, which is stranger in many ways! But yeah, it’s easy to see why he’s so beloved and why he has Cum­ber­bitches. How do you find the red car­pet? Is it scary? It does get a lit­tle eas­ier the more you do it, but I al­ways get some but­ter­flies when I go out there. It’s a weird place to have the re­union – some­times it’s the first time you see peo­ple af­ter you’ve gone through this strange, cathar­tic ex­pe­ri­ence on the film. Then you see them on the red car­pet, every­one’s watch­ing and you’re like: ‘Oh hey! How’s life?’ So you know, it is an odd place cer­tainly for a re­union of the film fam­ily that you’ve cre­ated. What clas­sic Hol­ly­wood role do you wish you could’ve played? I re­ally love the role that Eliz­a­beth Tay­lor has in Gi­ant. Of course there’s Scar­lett O’hara… you know, the clas­sic ones that I think every­one wants to play. I’m try­ing to think! I mean, I just got to do an au­dio book of Anne Of Green Gables, which is one of my favourites, and she’s a very strong char­ac­ter. That’s ac­tu­ally a re­ally big ques­tion! An au­dio book sounds in­ter­est­ing. How did you find it? Yeah! It was re­ally fun. It was a to­tally dif­fer­ent set of skills that I ac­tu­ally found out I don’t pos­sess, but yeah, it was fun. You get to do things you would never imag­ine you could do, so that was re­ally nice.

Dr Strange is in cin­e­mas now

It’s easy to see why Bene­dict is so beloved

On set with Bene­dict in Dr Strange

Along­side Bradley Cooper in 2015’s Aloha

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