Born on November 17, 1978, in London, Ontario, Canada, Rachel McAdams became involved with acting as a teenager and by the age of 13 was performing in Shakespearean productions in summer theater camp; she went on to graduate with honors with a BFA degree in Theater from York University. After her debut in an episode of Disney's "The Famous Jett Jackson" (1998), she co-starred in the Canadian TV series "Slings and Arrows" (2003), a comedy-drama about the trials and travails of a Shakespearean theater group, and won a Gemini award for her performance in 2003.
McAdams played a title role in the hit teen film Mean Girls (2004), written by Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey. Appearing with co-stars Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Seyfried, the film opened doors for the budding actress. That same year, she played the lead role in The Notebook (2004), a screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks's romance novel. She caught the eye of the public in both films, winning two MTV Movie Awards in 2005 (for breakthrough female (Mean Girls) and best kiss (The Notebook).
McAdams reunites with ex-boyfriend Ryan Gosling, who called her "one of the great loves of my life." The on-again duo is first spotted at Gosling's deejay debut in Hollywood and then getting cozy over breakfast in Toronto. But in December, a source tells PEOPLE that the pair split: "He still loves Rachel and Rachel still loves him, but the timing is off and they can't make each other happy right now."