What happened to Rachel McAdams? She was standing at the top of the Hollywood plateau in ’05 after her breakout performances in The Wedding Crashers, Red Eye and The Family Stone. Everyone wanted to work with her. She had “it” and everyone knew it. Then she seemed to hit the brakes and say “uhhn, wait a minute.” And she’s been in an idling mode ever since.

What happened is that she hooked up with former Notebook costar Ryan Gosling (whom she’s been with for about two years) and decided to be…what’s the term? …extremely discerning in terms of choosing roles. She seemed to go all gun-shy and pattern herself after the Kevin Kline of the ’80s and early ’90s (when he was known as “Kevin Decline“), and by hook or by crook this led to a long hiatus.

In effect, McAdams deliberately turned off her career heat, in part (it appears) because of the influence of Gosling and his general “be an aloof artiste and avoid the Hollywood meat-grinder” attitude. Which is absolutely the right attitude, of course, unless you overdo it and it takes over and becomes a form of career novacaine.

Anyway, McAdams seems to be finally back in the game. This Variety story, which was written by “Michael Fleming, Michael Fleming and Dave McNary,” says she’s starting work on The Time Traveler’s Wife this August, for release in ’08. The New Line film will be directed by Robert Schwentke and costar Eric Bana as the time traveller. The IMDB also says she’s in a Sidney Kimmel film called Married Life.

A recent Elle article says McAdams “turned down parts in Mission: Impossible III and Casino Royale, as well as roles that went to Anne Hathaway in both The Devil Wears Prada and the upcoming Get Smart.” The implication is that she was only offered parts in glossy bullshit movies, which I don’t believe for a second. Everyone knows McAdams one of the best younger actress around. No way she wasn’t sent lots of pretty good-or-better scripts.

“I’m not going to make movies just to make movies,” she recently told People. “I have to be passionate about [the film], and at the same time I can get very distracted when I’m working, and I like to get back to my life a lot.” That kinda sounds like actress code talk for “I’m not that much of a hardcore careerist, frankly, and sometimes a relationship has to come first, and over the last couple of years I wanted to fortify things with my actor boyfriend, who needs a lot of loyalty and attention and support.”

I knew McAdams was given to a certain fickleness when she bolted out of that Tom Ford nudie shoot in late ’05 for the cover of the Oscar issue of Vanity Fair that appeared in early ’06. I’m not saying that doing the VF cover would have been the wisest career move in history, but it would been a moderately good thing. It would have made a symbolic imprint by affirming that McAdams had arrived in a big way.

I also always felt that walking around on the street and on magazine covers as a blonde (i.e., her natural color) was the wrong thing to do, image-wise. There was a reason she was a brunette in her big three ’05 movies (think about it), so it’s not just me being weird. She looks soulful and wholesome as a brunette but slightly gothy as a blonde — gothy and sorta vampy. It takes her warmth away.

The only problem with The Time Traveler’s Wife is that McAdams has chosen to not just make a film with Eric Bana, but in a sense grapple with the Eric Bana curse.

It’s not fair or rational to suggest that things like curses exist, but baseball players have hitting slumps and they get all superstitious about it (remember that element in Bull Durham?), and I know that when an actor has that can’t-win aura it affects everything he touches, and there’s no fighting it or defusing it until it goes away of its own accord. The fact is that the triple-whammy of Hulk, Munich and Lucky You really hurt Bana, and it’s going to take a lot of reverse karma to make things turn out right for the poor guy. This sounds cruel but if I were McAdams I would stay away from him, just to be on the safe side.