In 2005, Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams appeared in the comedy Wedding Crashers. Six years later, they’re together again in Woody Allen’s new movie, Midnight in Paris.
Wilson portrays Gil, a successful Hollywood screenwriter, who comes to Paris with his fiancé, Inez (McAdams). With totally difference interests, Inez goes dancing with another couple and Gil decides to go for a midnight walk, a stroll which will change his life forever.
At midnight an old car comes by filled with partygoers, and whisks him away, back in time, to a mansion where he meets Ernest Hemmingway and F Scott Fitzgerald, two of the novelists who inspired him to become a writer.
I spoke with Rachel McAdams about her role in this unique Woody Allen movie.
What was the casting process like for you?
I got a call that [Woody] wanted to meet and I was in complete shock.
I went out to New York, and we had a very brief meeting and he said, ‘I’d like you to play this part, she’s definitely not the object of desire, but I think she’s a lot of fun.’
He sort of said, ‘But if you don’t want to do it, it’s fine, whatever.’ (she laughs) I said, ‘No, no, I definitely want to do it.’
We just went from there, but it was very surreal because I never imagined he would knock on my door.
Can you tell us a little about Inez?
She is used to having her way. She’s very sure of what she wants. She’s in love with Gil, or she thinks she is, and is maybe not too inquisitive about the state or the health of their relationship.
She thinks Gil’s a good guy, a good catch, and he’s stable provided that he keeps writing screenplays and they can have a comfortable life in the States.
Inez just wants Gil to make enough money so they can go to parties and raise children. There’s nothing wrong with her aspirations; they’re just not Gil’s.
Did you have a pre-conceived idea of what it might be like working for Woody Allen, and how different was it from what you imagined?
I tried to watch as many of his films as I could, watch them again, and get a sense of the rhythm of a Woody Allen film, but ultimately I realized in the end that it was going to be a unique experience for me and different from the other films.
It was great to just get in there with him and realize that he’s incredibly funny, incredibly generous, happy to guide you if you want guidance, and happy to leave you alone if you feel confident in what you’re doing, and just creates these really fun, great characters in these wild situations and lets you just go and play.
I was just happy to find out that it was going to be a great experience and one that I’ll always really cherish.
What was it like working with Owen again?
I was so excited to work with Owen again because we had so much fun when we worked together a few years ago.
As this was a much more antagonistic relationship than the one we had in the other film, I was curious about how that would play out.
Our characters aren’t getting along this time around – but we did again.
Some of Owen’s gestures look like Woody’s. Did you see that happening on set when he was working?
I don’t know, I guess I can only speak from my experience. I know Woody and Owen seemed to get along really well.
I think they really admire each other, and I think that spilled over somehow into Owen playing this part.
I think he did a really lovely job. But in terms of an impersonation of Woody, I don’t think Owen was doing that personally, but that’s just my opinion.
Were you disappointed not to go back in time? And is there a time you’d like to go back to, or are you into the ‘now.’ which is the whole point of the movie?
It was a valuable lesson I’d like to incorporate into my life. But yeah, it’s part of why I do this job is that I do get go back in time, I get to get as close as you possibly can.
I’m always looking to do that, and different periods, and I’ve done the ‘40s and then Sherlock Holmes was late 1800s, and I’d like to hit them all really.
How do you think your character would have changed if she had gone back to the past with Gil?
(she laughs) I think she would have thrown a temper tantrum. ‘Get me out of here.’ It’s a great question, that’s the sequel, I guess. I don’t know that she would have been as swept away as Gil.
She’s too practical for that. Maybe she would have checked herself into a psychiatric hospital!
Are you in the Sherlock Holmes sequel?
Yes, I am.
Did you go back to England for that?
We do, yes. Can I say that? Am I going to get a phone call now?
Was it fun to get to play Irene Adler again? Were there things about her that you wanted to explore a little more?
Yeah. I just have a small cameo in this one, but it was nice to revisit. It’s why I’ve always thought I would like to do television. You get really intimate with your character.
Often with film, I find that you’re just really getting to know a person, they’re just starting to sink in, and then you wrap the film.
So, it was nice to get to bring her back and have time to meditate on her a bit more. I liked that exercise.