Skip to main content

The movie Mean Girls is widely seen as one of Rachel McAdams’ most successful and revered projects. But after the raunchy comedy, McAdams began to feel that her career needed a drastic makeover.

How playing Regina George in ‘Mean Girls’ affected Rachel McAdams’ career

Rachel McAdams posing in a dress at 'Top Gun: Maverick' screening.
Rachel McAdams | Emma McIntyre/WireImage

Rachel McAdams Net Worth and How She Became Famous

McAdams felt she experienced a significant career boost after playing the conniving Regina George in Mean Girls. When she first got a hold of the script, the actor wanted to be a part of the project immediately. And it didn’t matter to her who she was playing.

“I remember when I read it, I called my agent right away and said, ‘I will play any part in this, please, please, please,’” she once told The New York Times. “I was at the beginning of my career, and it was a lofty thing out there, that I really, really, really wanted to do. I’m always looking for larger-than-life characters, which is probably why I like playing villains. They get away with so much.”

After a series of tests, McAdams was cast as the main antagonist opposite of Lindsay Lohan’s Cady. Her performance was both critically acclaimed and memorable, so much so she credited it for giving her the career she currently enjoys.

“Does Regina George haunt me every day? She does have that quality,” she joked. “No, I have to thank Regina George for giving me some longevity. I’m forever grateful to Tina Fey and Mark Waters [the director],” she said.

But at the same time, she wasn’t sure where her career would be headed after the role.

”I had to kind of reassess and go, ‘What did I want this [success] to be, and how did I expect it to look?’’” she once said in an interview with Marie Claire (via Contact Music).

Rachel McAdams competed with Amanda Seyfried for Regina George

Waters thought the Mean Girls cast would look a lot different than it turned out to be. Lindsay Lohan was originally tapped to play villain Regina George, and McAdams did a reading for Lohan’s character Cady. But Waters felt McAdams came off as too mature for the role.

“I remember watching her do the scene,” Waters said in an interview with Vulture. “And after it was over, I told her, ‘I think you’re a movie star, but you’re way too old for this character. You just aren’t going to be able to play the ingenue.’ And she said, ‘No, I understand, I get it.’”

Soon, however, Waters felt Lohan fit the main protagonist Cady more, whereas McAdams seemed better suited to play the villain.

“When Lindsay was acting with Rachel, she got very shy, because Rachel was older and a very accomplished actress,” Waters said. “She’d come in the room and not talk to Lindsay — she was very focused. Lindsay kind of got nervous around her, and I thought that, more than anything, was going to be the deciding factor, the fact that she affected Lindsay in that way.”

But McAdams had to go through her other Mean Girls co-star Amanda Seyfried for the role.

“The person who was neck and neck for the role of Regina — and we agonized over which one we were going to cast — was Amanda Seyfried,” Waters said. “She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel’s approach. She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating.”

How Rachel McAdams feels about a ‘Mean Girls’ reunion

McAdams once revealed she’d be more than happy to reunite with the cast of Mean Girls. She met with her former co-stars very briefly for an event, but that simply made her want an official reunion even more.

“I mean, I loved that movie,” McAdams once told E News. “I love Tina Fey. I love the girls. I mean, to get to kind of have a reunion would be…we got to have a reunion at a photo shoot a couple of years ago and it was over like that and it wasn’t enough. I was back in it.”