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MORNING GLORY

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The trickiest part of pulling off Morning Glory would be the most essential: casting the lead character of Becky Fuller, who had to be vulnerable, vivacious yet sly and savvy enough to work her way up from rock bottom to winning the day when no one believed she could. "We needed someone you really want to root for,” says J.J. Abrams. "She had to be bubbly and fun, but the treacherous part was that she also had to have an equal amount of depth and sophistication. Rachel McAdams brought all of that. She nails the classical comedy stuff, but her character is also full of heart, honesty and emotion.”

Adds Sherryl Clark: "Rachel is a breath of fresh air. She jumped in with both feet and I think she makes Becky very relatable. Everyone feels like an underdog at some point in their life, and Rachel just captures that feeling.”

McAdams right away felt a kinship with Becky, in both her foibles and her unflagging spirit.

"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,” she says. "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.”

McAdams worked closely with screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna to get to know her doggedly determined character backwards and forwards.

"Aline is such a great writer and she knows her characters so well that she was great to have involved in the process,” says the actress. "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.”

With Becky Fuller-like intensity, McAdams also dove into her own personal research, visiting nearly all the morning shows in New York to analyze how they really work.

"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,” she says. "And 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 is terrifying.”

Another thing that took McAdams by surprise is how downright physical a job producing a morning news show can be. "Becky is a bit more of an action hero than I expected,” she laughs. "There was a lot 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.”

Once on the set, McAdams seemed to inhabit the character so completely, even the director was taken aback. Recalls Michell, "Rachel had told me she didn't think of herself as a comedic actress, but it was immediately clear that not only is she extremely funny physically, she can be wonderfully comedic with her body and way of moving. She also combines her top comedic skills with an enormous beating heart. She has this sweet, innocent energy that becomes a part of the film. Becky has this ridiculously overwhelming job, yet Rachel plays her like a kid at her first day of school. Rachel's spirit really runs the film, as she shows how Becky prevails by the force, really, of her will and charm.”

That charm is given a severe test as Becky begins to realize that her long-time news idol, Mike Pomeroy, might not be a dream to work with; in fact, he might actually deserve his reputation as one of the worst persons in the world. Yet, the more cantankerous and resistant Mike gets, the more tenacious Becky becomes – a dynamic that McAdams loved enacting with Harrison Ford.

"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,” she says.

For Guy Riedel, the beauty of McAdams' performance is the degree to which it counterpoints that of Ford. He sums up: "Rachel is so fun and lively and so like a great cheerleader that when you contrast that with Mike Pomeroy, who is so dour and angry, and see her hold her own against him – well, there's nothing better.”

McAdams was equally thrilled by the opportunity to work with Diane Keaton "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.”

If Becky is at war all morning long, she finds some unexpected romantic peace later in the day when she begins seeing the news magazine producer Adam Bennett (PATRICK WILSON), in spite of her worse-than-spotty dating record. For years, Becky has been too busy to even realize when she was attracted to someone, but Adam doesn't let her off the hook. "At first, Becky just thinks she wants to pick his brain a little, get some insight into how to deal with this strange beast known as Mike Pomeroy,” McAdams explains. "And Becky is so clueless about men that she completely misinterprets all of Adam's signals. We have a very clumsy beginning but . . . let's just say, it turns out quite well.” McAdams certainly made a lasting impression on Wilson. "She gives Becky this wonderful frenetic energy without going completely crazy or ever distancing herself from the audience. It was easy to fall for her,” he sums up.

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