The Spotlight actress tells PEOPLE how she prepped to portray Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer
Credit: People

Even though she’s an actress, Rachel McAdams obviously has journalistic instincts.

When it came time to portray Boston Globe reporter Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight, Rachel McAdams was ready to take notes. The actress spent hours texting and calling the Pulitzer winner, asking her all about her work covering the child molestation allegations against more than 80 church officials in Boston in the early 2000s.

“I bugged Sacha a lot and she was very gracious about it,” says McAdams, who, along with the rest of the Spotlight cast and crew, took home the coveted best picture and best acting ensemble trophies at the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday night in L.A. “[Director Tom McCarthy] said to me, ‘If you’re on board, Sacha is available – you can call her tomorrow.’ ”

Pfeiffer, the seasoned reporter she is, took note of the Spotlight star’s diligence.

“She was incredibly hardworking. We really got to see how behind-the-scenes they worked really hard,” Pfeiffer tells PEOPLE. “I would get text messages from Rachel in the middle of the day asking, ‘How would you have done this and what kind of shoes would you have worn in this scene?’ They really worked hard.”

The work paid off: McAdams is up for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in February, and the film is up for Best Picture.