In preparation for the role, Mc Adams studied old films, particularly those of Kim Novak.
Todd Mc Carthy of Variety criticized her break from the big screen but felt that, despite a performance of "tender feeling", "her natural vivaciousness and spontaneity are straightjacketed" by the film noir format.
She was hailed by the media as Hollywood's new "it girl", and received a BAFTA nomination for Best Rising Star.
After a two-year break, Mc Adams starred in two limited release films in 2008; the film noir Married Life and the road trip drama The Lucky Ones.
Upon arrival on the photo set, Mc Adams discovered it was a nude session, declined and left.
She later parted ways with her publicist at the time, who had not informed her in advance.
In 2005, Mc Adams starred with Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Bradley Cooper in the romantic comedy Wedding Crashers.
Watch the poignancy of the scene when she meets her boyfriend's family." In 2009, Mc Adams starred with Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Ben Affleck in the political thriller State of Play, based on the BBC drama television series of the same name.
Mc Adams played Della Frye, an online reporter who investigates a possible conspiracy with Crowe's character, a veteran print journalist.
In 2015, her highest profile roles were in the second season of the HBO crime drama True Detective, and as journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in the drama Spotlight.
For her performance in Spotlight, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.