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Rachel McAdams, the recipient of this year’s Vanguard Award at CinemaCon, can feel a “swell of reconnection and reuniting love for movies right now.” She adds: “Not to overstate it, but it’s kind of emotional to think about going and sitting in a movie theater full of people again.”
And McAdams will soon find herself back on the big screen for Lionsgate’s adaptation of the beloved 1970 Judy Blume novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The Hollywood Reporter talked to the actress about returning to theaters and what Margaret meant to her, personally, and what it could mean for audiences.
Do you have a first movie theater memory?
The animated Peter Pan was the first film I ever saw. I remember that there were red curtains that pulled apart and the screen was revealed, and I was like, “Wait, what planet am I on?”
Did you have a personal attachment to the Judy Blume book?
I actually didn’t, but it was really nice to come to it later in life as a mom because I was playing the mother character and was viewing it through that lens. I have a daughter, so it became really powerful from that point of view. And then it also took me back to my own childhood and wishing I had discovered that book. I was really into the Fudge series when I was a little bit younger and remember thinking, like, “Oh, that is a racy book I haven’t gotten to yet.” Then I started doing theater and sports and never did get around to it. It was interesting to read it all these years later and feel how relevant it was and how funny it still is.
What drew you to Barbara, the mother character in the story?
She’s got a more supporting part in the book, and it’s a little bit more developed in the script. And I felt like Kelly [Fremon Craig, the director] drew a mother that was on a parallel journey with her daughter and trying to be a mom, but also be a person. [She] is a very supportive mother but also wants to give her child a sense of independence and autonomy and let her go through the wonders of life herself and not cloud those too much with her own ideas of how you should and should not be. It was heartbreaking to me that she worked really hard to not burden her child with her own past, yet it’s such a part of who she is. But there’s no way it wasn’t going to come up. It is just a real cacophony of honest, truthful things women and mothers experience on a whole.
Why do you think a feature film was the right way to tell this story?
There’s still something very romantic about going to the cinema and this movie has a real nostalgia to it. As much as it’s relevant to today, it’s still set in the ’70s, so it makes sense in that respect. And it is such an event, as well. Judy Blume had never found the team that she wanted to take this project on. And, 50 years later, she felt ready.
What do you hope audiences take away from this movie?
I hope there’s, above all, a feeling of togetherness and community and feeling, as women, like we’re all on the same team. That there’s nothing you can’t talk about with each other. And for men, too. Benny Safdie plays the dad in this and is just so warm, and he’s struggling with what it is to have a girl who’s changing before his very eyes. But I hope it inspires what movies are so great at, which is bringing people together and inspiring conversation, um, making these things easier to talk about. It’s amazing that 50 years later, we’re still not really cool with talking about women’s menstruation. (Laughs.) Movies are such a great way to get the ball rolling at the dinner table. I hope that it fosters conversation and a feeling of not being alone.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story first appeared in the April 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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