Rachel McAdams Is Not Afraid of the Dark

From the outside, you wouldn’t know that Rachel McAdams, the thoughtfully charming star of blockbuster rom-coms, rom-drams, a Marvel franchise and the Oscar-winning “Spotlight,” has been wondering about death.

Maybe it has to do with the therapist who said that her indecisiveness and deep curiosity about seeing through someone else’s eyes, which she’s harbored since childhood, could be chalked up to something called “death anxiety.”

McAdams had long viewed her acting choices as expanding her orbit. “It’s been a way to live a lot of lives in one,” she said. If that was about a fear of dying — well, it didn’t rattle her.

Instead, characteristically, she embraced it. “We don’t have a lot of great coping mechanisms for death in our culture,” she said. “So, yeah, I kind of welcome the opportunity to lean into that — earlier rather than later. Let’s get cozy with it. Let’s get cozy with that next adventure.”

Death hovers like a specter around her latest role, as the single mother of a seriously ill child, in the play “Mary Jane.” McAdams hasn’t done theater since college; she makes her Broadway debut as the title character in this Manhattan Theater Club production, which began previews April 2 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater. It’s by the busy playwright Amy Herzog, who also adapted Broadway’s show of the moment, Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.”

“Mary Jane” is the first of her own deceptively spare plays to appear on Broadway, after a celebrated run in 2017 at New York Theater Workshop. Dotted (surprisingly) with laugh lines, it’s about the daily muck and lasting profundity of caregiving, a nitty-gritty subject that’s rarely dramatized. “A heartbreaker for anyone human,” Jesse Green wrote in his New York Times review.

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