This is my interview of Rachel McAdams for Doctor Strange. If you don’t know about the all new addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might be living under a rock. In recent weeks, Marvel Studios’ latest installment of epic superhero awesomeness has been swaying the press for its flawless character development and mind-blowing visual effects. And fans are growing more and more eager to load into an IMAX theater, slap on their 3d glasses and trip out for an hour and fifty-five minutes. While on my recent Marvel, Pixar, Free Form press junket, I had the opportunity to sit with Rachel McAdams and get the scoop on her role as Christine Palmer.
About Christine Palmer with Doctor Strange – Wait Where’s Clea?
Christine Palmer was a character from a short series of Marvel Comics called Night Nurse in which she, Linda Carter and Georgia Jenkins had been written into what some may call an early version of Grey’s Anatomy.
In the new film Doctor Strange, Palmer plays the role of Stephen Strange’s former lover and colleague (a fellow surgeon) and serves as an anchor to his pre-superhero life and humanity. However, in the comics, Clea was known to be his lover. So we see Christine Palmer coming in as more of a crossover character which of course was flawlessly played by the charming Rachel Mcadams.
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My Interview with Rachel McAdams for Doctor Strange
The interview took place at the lovely Montage Beverly Hills where I sat at a round table with 24 other incredible bloggers. Rachel of course, was an absolute delight to talk to with a smile that lights up the room. Here’s what she had to say about her role in Doctor Strange:
Being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a coveted title to any talent. I was interested to hear Rachel’s take on getting cast as Christine Palmer, being in the special Marvel club and working with Marvel on set:
I was just over the moon. I met with Scott and he was just so incredibly passionate and you know a self-proclaimed comic geek. I think that’s who you want at the helm of something like this. It was so personal for him. I just knew he was the right guy for it and that you know I’d be in great hands. And you know that Marvel would be so supportive as well. I was just excited at the possibilities.
Working with Marvel on set was everything I had hoped for and more, really. I assumed I would be working with the crème de la crème – and I was. So it was just great to be in such great hands. From costumes to everything was just so well done, so beautifully thought through and well-crafted. They didn’t even make me pretend that much with green screen. That’s how considerate they were.
So what does it take an actress to turn into a surgeon? Rachel tells us about her preparation for her role in order to be not just a surgeon but a neurosurgeon.
I’m funny when it comes to blood and guts and stuff like that. But my mom is a nurse, so I’d kind of grown up with, around medicine, which is probably why I became an actress instead. But I did get to shadow some amazing brain surgeons, a female brain surgeon in Toronto, another surgeon in London.
We had a surgeon onset every day. He taught me to do sutures and I was practicing on raw turkey breasts. That was interesting. Oranges, that was a little more easier to take in my purse, so I could practice wherever I went.
I read this really great book called Do No Harm by Henry Marsh who is a world-famous brain surgeon. I don’t know if anybody has read it but it was just a phenomenal book and really eye-opening when it comes to being your own advocate when it comes to your health.
One of the doctors offered to take me up in the Evac helicopter for the weekend. So cool, right? But I’m terrified of flying. And I’d have a weak stomach. So I was like, I actually think for the sake of everyone I should decline this really generous offer. So I didn’t unfortunately get over my fear and do that.
Palmer’s character is a very emotional, nurturing and passionate one. A perfect fit for Rachel McAdams, perfectly cast. Rachel tells us how she taps into that emotion for the film, how her mother helped her and why she cried for 8 hours on set with Benedict.
I think having a mother as a nurse who’s a very kind, she’s so compassionate, and she really unfortunately would take her work home with her sometimes. I think Christine’s more that kind of character. So, I think I kind of grew up with that a little bit and have great admiration for people who do that for a living and who are real empaths. I suppose I drew on from my mom a bit.
She did IV therapy. If she would miss someone’s vein, she would beat herself so bad. So, I guess it was a little bit personal that way. Also Benedict is such an extraordinary actor that you just have to be present with him and it all kind of falls into place. I mean, we did a lot of crying together.
We cried one day for eight hours straight, every single take. And I’ve never been able to do that before. I mean, you know it comes, it goes, it comes back again. But with him I mean he’s so emotionally available and present that I’d look at him and I’d start crying. You know it was just like water works all day long. We both had these incredible headaches at the end of the day. And I was like, well we’re dehydrated you know. So yeah, I really have to give kudos to him for that.
We talked a lot with Benedict Cumberbatch on his wardrobe for the film. Everyone’s costumes were pretty amazing. Rachel however, has the easy task of wearing scrubs and street clothes. She told us what that was like for her in terms of working on set:
I loved it. So comfortable, I got to wear orthopedic running shoes every day. And you know, high heels like, the older you get, the harder it is to wear them for very long. I was really grateful for that. I was a little jealous of the levitation cloak but I was happy to be comfortable.
One thing that always comes up when I’m interviewing Marvel talent is whether or not they read the comics. Personally, I don’t read comics (but I am obsessed with comic art). However, when a film or T.V. show comes out, I will go back and read them if I have time. I find that to be pretty normal among most talent as well. Rachel tells us about her research for Christine Palmer.
I hadn’t read the Dr. Strange comics growing up. I was kind of reading you know Judy Blume and stuff like that. But I’ve since educated myself. And I think the Dr. Strange ones are so different from the other comics which is nice. I love the movies but I hadn’t read a lot of the comics.
It’s always nice to see what kind of interesting things went on behind the scenes. Rachel tells us about her moments alone with Benedict’s dummy.
There was a dummy of Benedict, because there were times when Benedict had to be on wires but there also needed to be his body on the table. The dummy was so lifelike that I would talk to it. I would squeeze his arm and be like, “are you okay?” “You know like, you haven’t said anything in a while ” “Are you hungry? Can I get you something”
Everyone in Doctor Strange has a superpower but Rachel. So what would her superpower be if she had to choose? Rachel tells us she would be a creeper.
I don’t have any superpowers. I don’t. I just don’t. I would like to be invisible – because I’d love to go into people’s houses and see their interior decorating. Don’t you guys when you’re driving at night and can kind of see through the window and you think, “Oh, that looks so cozy in there. I wish I could like get a free pass.” Yeah, so that’s probably the one I’d pick. I’d be a total creeper.
I think Rachel McAdams might be the cutest person on the planet to scare. When you see the movie you’ll totally get what I’m talking about. Rachel tells us what it was like to be repeatedly startled on set.
You hope they get it on the first one because that is usually startling, the first time. And then you just kind of fake it the rest of the time. But they were very helpful – I was never quite sure where the sounds were coming from. I’m also a total scaredy-cat in real life. So you know it’s not a far stretch for me.
As for the future of Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange, well I’m sure hope she comes back. She’s a beautiful talent whom everyone adores.