Rachel McAdams Had A Very Unique Shooting Experience During About Time

There was a period where Rachel McAdams seemed to have a thing about starring in projects where she falls for a man who genetically possesses the ability to time travel, one of which involuntarily made me a bit weepy. "About Time" is one of those movies that just sneaks up on you. The romantic dramedy, directed by Richard Curtis ("Love Actually"), stars Domnhnall Gleeson ("Ex Machina") as Tim, a shy man who learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that the men in their family have the ability to time travel. The catch is that they can only go back to moments they had experienced themselves in life. In the midst of trying to course correct his love life, he meets a kind soul named Mary (Rachel McAdams), which sets the pair on a beautiful and occasionally heartbreaking romantic journey filled with tenderness, do-overs and the consequences of life.

I came around to "About Time" pretty recently, and I can confidently say that I understand what everyone who recommended it to me was talking about. I ultimately think that the father/son bond between Gleeson and Nighy is the strongest relationship in the film, but McAdams is also such a super charming presence here, and shares a great chemistry with her co-lead. In an interview with Collider, McAdams recalls how much she truly loved working on this project:

"It really did feel like we were enjoying the process so much because that's what the movie was about. 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. 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."

A different kind of blind date

One of the best scenes in "About Time" involves the first time Tim and Mary see each other, albeit with a twist. About 20 minutes into the film, Tim and his office friend Rory (Joshua McGuire) head to a real restaurant called Dans le Noir, where they proceed to enjoy a meal while encased in total darkness. They're seated next to Mary and her friend Joanna (Vanessa Kirby) because that's where an open space was, and the four of them seem to really hit it off. When asked about the dinner scene in that same interview with Collider, McAdams recounts the unique experience of making this sequence work on set:

"It was very strange. We did a test run at the actual restaurant, Dans le Noir, in London to get a feel for it because we shot it in very dim light, but you could still see our faces. 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. So, it was an interesting experiment for all of us, as actors. We tried it many different ways, in broad daylight and in the dark. We just recorded the sessions in ADR, and I think Richard mashed a bunch of that together. I love it, as an idea. It's definitely unique. But, the experience at the actual restaurant was intense. It was really weird. They could really pull one over on you. Everything is called surprise, too. It's veggie surprise, seafood surprise, meat surprise or surprise surprise. I went with veggie because that seemed safest, but it was the hardest to guess because it was Polenta. It's just not an obvious food group. But, it was an interesting, good experience."

Maybe it's just me, but I'd rather not leave my dinner up to surprise. McAdams' description of putting the scene together, however, reveals why I think this was a perfect way to introduce these characters to one another. It's a very sweet mix-up of the romantic meet cute, where the soon-to-be lovers would usually glance at one another for the first time and are overwhelmed with affection, but neither admit it until much later. It's a blind date, sure, but not so much in the traditional sense, even though it's quite literally a blind date. It's a testament to their first impressions that they spend well over three and a half hours enshrouded in darkness with mystery food and the company of one another's conversation.

When you can't see someone, it allows you to get in touch with someone's persona, rather than focusing on what they look like. But with that said, the moment where they both agree to see each other outside is delightfully nerve-wracking. It's almost like the dinner didn't happen, and now they must face the moment of truth. Lucky for Gleeson, out walks the stunning McAdams, which results in an adorably awkward number exchange that sets the momentous love story in motion.