Rachel McAdams said her experience portraying Boston Globe journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in “Spotlight” was a master class in learning to listen.
The real Pfeiffer, a part of the newspaper’s Spotlight investigative team, conducted dozens of interviews with the victims of pedophile Roman Catholic priests in Boston, Massachusetts, for an award-winning 2001 series of stories. Not only was the subject matter sensitive for those who suffered the abuse, but specifics were often the only ammunition the reporters had against the Church.
“Because I was a woman, I think it was easier for some of those adult men to talk about things that were incredibly embarrassing — sometimes humiliating — for them,” Pfeiffer said, sitting alongside McAdams for a joint interview for an upcoming issue of TheWrap Magazine. “I bet those were hard scenes to do.”
McAdams credited the actors portraying the victims, saying “the great thing about acting is you have a great scene partner, and that’s what they were. You just want to listen.”
The star conceded that the real-life investigation was harder than portraying it on film. “I wondered if it was the same for you?” she asked Pfeiffer. “[If] you found that you couldn’t help but be open and receive the story.”
For Pfeiffer, the challenge was to draw out specific stories from the victims in order to hold the culprits to account. “It was really important to me that people had to share with us details that were sometimes painful,” she said. “If you just say, ‘I got molested’ — it’s generic. Sometimes the details we got could send a priest to jail.”