Emile Hirsch: The Most Adept New Talent That Can't Buy Cigarettes

After a patchy beginning as a leukemia-riddled tyke saved by a vampire on "Kindred: The Embraced" (his hair was shaved off in clumps for the role), Emile Hirsch quickly moved up in the ranks as the young Houdini in TNT's high-profile biopic, and with stints on "NYPD Blue" and "ER."


Then, after solid work in Showtime's Wild Iris opposite Laura Linney and Gena Rowlands, he kickstarted his career with a wounded, wide-eyed turn in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. This month, the 17-year-old L.A. native will be seen opposite Kevin Kline in the prep school drama The Emperor's Club--his character, the swaggering Sedgewick Bell, is "larger than life, like Alexander the Great, who's very corrupt, but not gay," he laughs--and next year he'll star as The Mudge Boy, a young man grappling with the loss of his mother.

He received sage advice (like "wear condoms") from Vincent D'Onofrio on the set of Altar Boys, but Hirsch found life in Kline's Club completely different. "We weren't quite hanging out like we were with Vincent," he says. "Kevin was really focusing because he had a huge part." There was, however, plenty of excitement to be found from other sources--like the young students of the all-girls school in Troy, NY, where Club was filmed. "I was getting these weird notes in my room from these girls. They were telling me that some of the girls wanted me just because I was in a movie. This one girl tried to protect me in her letter. She even named--she blacklisted half the girls at the school!"


Lonny Pugh