From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Yes, Rachel McAdams sometimes seeks solace in a bottle. Just not the one you'd think. "I always get in trouble for drinking my mom's maple syrup," says McAdams. So it's no wonder that the actress, 25, was attracted to another sweet confection: The Notebook, based on Nicholas Sparks's 1996 bestseller about a WWII-era Southern belle entangled in a love triangle. "It's such an overwhelming love story," says McAdams, who devoured the book the day after getting cast. "I didn't sob, but I cried."

After her tart turn as Mean Girls's cutthroat queen bee, McAdams may take this year's versatility award. "There aren't many actresses who can go through the great comedy she does in Mean Girls," says Notebook costar James Marsden, "and turn around and break your heart." The single Ontario native calls herself "a boring Canadian," but shook things up lately by taking a solo backpacking trip to Costa Rica and—gasp!—dyeing her blonde locks: "Brunettes can have fun too."