Have you seen the movie with an audience?
Rachel McAdams: I have not.
What do you anticipate about that? What do you think will translate? Are there moments you’re hoping are going to have that emotional punch?
Rachel McAdams: I guess I kind of leave that in the hands of each audience member. That’s what I love about films, it’s that everybody often connects to something so different, things you couldn’t even anticipate even when you’re making the film. So you just make it as honestly as possible, but a lot of people have mentioned the scene on the beach between Richard’s actual son, the very, very cute Charlie, who dyed his hair red for the part. He was like, “Dad, I think we should go the whole way. Let’s be real about this and method.” So he was a little redhead for a while. It really suited him too. A lot of people pointed that out. I’ve heard people are very emotional by the end, and it’s got a nice balance of humor and it’s got that Richard Curtis stamp on it. But reading it, I felt quite taken away and I wanted to reach out and call my mom when I put the script down. I love films that make you feel a little differently when you come out of them as opposed to when you first see them, and I feel like this one does that.
Were you aware that this was going to Richard Curtis’ last film as a director?
Rachel McAdams: Yeah, I was. I heard that nasty rumor and it was one of the reasons I did the film because I’m such a fan of his and I thought that this might be my only chance. So I jumped at it for that reason, but I hope not. It’s tough because he’s taking time away from film to kind of save the world. He’s so altruistic and raises so much money to fight poverty, so it’s hard to ask him to take time away from that. It feels selfish. I can’t fault him for why he’s making the switch. He’s an incredible person. He’s one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and he brings that to the film. I felt like we were living the film we were making.
Bill Nighy could not have been more effusive in talking about you and your co-stars. Did making this movie feel different from all the other ones you have made so far?
Rachel McAdams: It really did feel like we were enjoying the process so much because that’s what the movie was about. So that idea was always present, and Richard just sets the tone for that too. He mines out the greatest moments in life and he calls special attention to them, and he undercuts them with humor but he really takes measure of the good stuff. I think that’s such a talent and a really admirable way to live. His family is a big part of the filmmaking process. His partner Emma Freud, who is a collaborator of his, brought baked goods every day and lottery tickets on Fridays. We were just totally spoiled and it was a really lovely experience.
How was it shooting the restaurant scene in the dark?
Rachel McAdams: It was very strange. We did a test run at the actual restaurant, Dans Le Noir in London, to get a feel for it. We shot it in very dim light, but you could still see our faces so we had to pretend that we couldn’t see and we were all miserable at it. It was so hard not to just want to look at your fork. It’s weird to hit your face with food (laughs). So it was an interesting experiment for all of us as actors and we tried it in many different ways; in bright, broad daylight, in the dark where we just recorded the sessions in ADR, and I think he just mashed a bunch of that together. But I love it as an idea, it’s definitely unique, but the experience at the actual restaurant was intense. It was really weird (laughs).
How can you be sure what you’re eating is really what you ordered?
Rachel McAdams: Who knows? They can really pull one over on you. Everything is called a surprise too: veggie surprise or seafood surprise or meat surprise or surprise surprise or chef’s surprise. I went with veggie because I thought that was safest, but it was the hardest to guess because it was like polenta. It’s not an obvious food group. It was interesting.
Is that something you would have gone to of your own volition?
Rachel McAdams: I was always curious about it. I had heard about those restaurants and I was really excited about it up until literally the moment when we were about to plunge into darkness. I’m holding onto Bill because Bill sort of went in like a loco motion and he turns to me and goes, “You’re not claustrophobic are you?” And I was like, “Yes, why?” And he’s like, “Oh I just heard it’s not great if you’re claustrophobic” (laughs). And suddenly I was like, “Ok, I’m in a small black box and I don’t know how to get out of it.” It was a real test for me to not freak out at any moment and try to get out of there, but it was interesting. It must be what it really feels like to be blind. There’s not a shred of light and your eyes are just straining for anything.