February 19, 2016 01:30 PM

Rachel McAdams would like to thank Rob Schneider for helping her launch her career in Hollywood.

When she moved to Los Angles, she auditioned to play Nancy Drew in a TV pilot, but didn’t get the job. However, being devastated over losing the pilot helped her land her first American movie, The Hot Chick.

“It allowed me to be really relaxed,” McAdams, 37, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive video.

Having to switch bodies with Schneider made The Hot Chick “one of the hardest jobs I’ve had to date,” she says.

Rachel McAdams
Marc Hom

McAdams has come a long way from The Hot Chick. At this year’s Academy Awards, she’s nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight.

Finding her character was easy because she spent a lot of time with the real Sacha Pfeiffer.

“It was great I had such a direct link to the person I was playing,” she says. “She never makes the story about herself. She’s such a compassionate listener. She allows people to feel comfortable to open up to her. So, I wanted to do justice by her and tell the story as honestly as possible.”

Watch our Live from the Oscars Red Carpet show on PEOPLE.com starting at 5:30 ET/2:30 PT on Feb. 28 and the 88th Academy Awards at 7 ET/4 PT on ABC.

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