In 2002, she made her Hollywood film debut in the comedy The Hot Chick.
Mc Adams rose to fame in 2004 with her roles in the comedy Mean Girls and the romantic drama The Notebook.
Her performance qualifies her for heavy-duty roles." In late 2005, Mc Adams starred with Sarah Jessica Parker and Diane Keaton in the seasonal family comedy-drama The Family Stone, which gave Mc Adams an opportunity to play a dishevelled and sardonic sister, rather than the usual "obvious" girlfriend or wife roles.
Vanity Fair invited Mc Adams, along with actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley, to appear on its March 2006 cover, the annual Hollywood issue.
Afterwards, Mc Adams starred with Tim Robbins and Michael Peña in the road trip comedy-drama The Lucky Ones, a story about three Iraq War soldiers on a brief road trip back in the United States.