Elizabeth Olsen, Shailene Woodley, and Other 2011 Highlights From The Verge
For nearly three years, Movieline's Verge feature has introduced you to the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Armie Hammer, Emma Stone, Chris Hemsworth and dozens of other bright young screen talents on their ways to the big time. 2011 was no exception, so wind down the year with a look back at -- and a word with -- a few major new players you'll be seeing plenty of in the future.
THEN: Fought off alien invaders in South London in the cult favorite Attack the Block
NOW: Leading the Spike Lee/Mike Tyson/John Ridley HBO series Da Brick
ON COMING TO HOLLYWOOD "McDonald’s is a big highlight for me. [… Y]ou do things differently. Seriously. I mean, I asked for a burger and they give me a tank. It’s like, ‘Wow, you guys eat!’ I really respect that. We don’t have the little thing where you can refill your drinks. We don’t have that! So yeah, it’s been fun. Seeing the history, seeing the Hollywood sign. I’ve been on Sunset. I went to the Griddle Cafe. Oh, man. I had an Oreo pancake. It was heavenly. I don’t want to go back now, just because of that pancake."
THEN: Made film debut in J.J. Abrams's Super 8
NOW: Will appear as the former Twain hero in upcoming Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn
ON THE SPIELBERG FACTOR: OK, I have to tell you. The first time Riley [Griffiths] and I were doing a scene, and [Steven Spielberg] came in, I didn’t know if Riley saw him, but I did. I was like, 'Dude!” He was like, 'Yeah, I see him!' It was so funny because during this scene we were trying not to break character because he was there but we really wanted to talk to him and meet him. And it pushed us to do better in the scene, because he was there. That’s one of our better scenes together. It’s the one where we’re watching the TV, watching the newscast, and he was there during that scene. While we were at Bad Robot watching [the film] with J.J., I was like, “Riley, that’s the scene Steven was there for!” He was like, 'I know, it’s awesome!'"
THEN: Made big-screen debut as Albert Narracott in Steven Spielberg's War Horse
NOW: Will play younger version of Colin Firth's character in The Railway Man, appear as Pip in Great Expectations, and co-star with Dakota Fanning in Now is Good
WORDS OF ADVICE: "You’ve got to get away from the crowd. If you stay with everyone else, then you’re just going to be another one. But there’s no set way. At the end of the day, what it all comes down to is being in the right place at the right time."
THEN: Co-wrote and starred in the Sundance darling Another Earth
NOW: Appearing opposite Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon in Arbitrage and in the all-star Robert Redford-directed thriller The Company You Keep
ON EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS: "When we were making this movie, we were saying at the beginning, 'Oh yeah, we’ll have a screening at our house. How many people can we fit into the living room? If we bring in chairs and we borrow this person’s couch, we can fit 20 people in here to watch the movie!' That’s kind of how we went about making it; we just wanted to make something, you know? The desire to just make something is so strong, you’re not even thinking about how it could enter the world. Getting to go to Sundance, and [Fox] Searchlight taking the film into their hands — which are the most capable hands in independent filmmaking — they put so much thought and feeling behind bringing this work into the world that basically, it’s every day a state of shock and awe."
THEN: Wrote the screenplay for the Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher comedy No Strings Attached
NOW: Created Fox's hit New Girl, has projects in development with Fox, Paramount and Universal
ON THE MASTERPLAN: "This has just been a kind of unbelievable process. I just want to keep writing characters who are interesting and complicated people and interesting roles for women, in TV or film or in theater. I think that’s like my Blues Brothers mission."
THEN: Wowed Sundance and stirred awards talk with her breakout role in Martha Marcy May Marlene
NOW: Will appear in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding (with Jane Fonda), Red Lights (with Robert De Niro and Sigourney Weaver) and Very Good Girls (with Dakota Fanning)
ON THE ART OF READING SCRIPTS: "There’s something that was really interesting that happened as I was reading it that I actually hadn’t experienced with other scripts, because it was also within the first six months of reading scripts and auditioning. Like when you’re reading a book in your head, you create this imaginary character, naturally. And it was my first time reading a script imagining myself instead of another character. Now, every time I read a script I try and make that happen, because it helps a lot to figure out or tell yourself, ‘Oh, I can do this,’ and then you end up reading it in a way that you would do it."
THEN: Stole scene after scene as Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen's monster hit Midnight in Paris
NOW: Will appear in The Bourne Legacy and the Samantha Morton-led ensemble film Decoding Annie Parker
ON THE AUDITION OF A LIFETIME: "It was like a two-page sentence with no punctuation. It was a lot to prepare in five or 10 minutes. But then I came in and did it, and he seemed really happy. He gave me one little adjustment, and I did it again. And that was it. It was a great audition — the best audition of my life in terms of the sense of not having to feel like I was auditioning, even. It was just this sense of, 'Here, just read this. What does this sound like? Is this going to work?' I was shockingly un-nervous for what the stakes were, because you look at it and think, 'Wow. There are so many actors who would kill for this role.' And it’s so well-written, and it’s such a juicy character, and you know that Woody Allen is going to direct it perfectly. It was just up to me to not screw it up. [Laughs]"
THEN: Had first leading role in the '80s-era dramedy Dirty Girl
NOW: Has a half-dozen projects in line for 2012, including the The Dark Knight Rises, Lovelace and Jack and Diane
ON HER INSPIRATION: "I was 4 years old. It was L.A. – my parents lived in L.A. – and I was sitting on the couch. They had this great striped couch in the living room. My dad had a laser-disc machine. I remember the dress I was wearing, too: This little short, bright blue corduroy dress with red trim, buttoned up the front. I was wearing that. And my dad put on La Belle et la Bete, by Jean Cocteau. And I legitimately had my mind blown. I was in love with the beast. I wanted to be Belle more than I know how to put into words — still to this day, and I’m 22. I wanted to do that — anything I could do to make that stuff happen. So I started doing plays. I was always in fancy dress. It just became something I was obsessed with. I’ve always had a crazy, vivid imagination."
THEN: Appeared as George Clooney's daughter in The Descendants
NOW: Navigating awards season (likely all the way to Oscar night) and upcoming fourth season of her hit TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager
ON FAME, THE NECESSARY EVIL: "As a kid, I never wanted to be in magazines. I never wanted to be that stupid 'F' word, famous. I never wanted to be an 'S' word, star. For me it was all about the art of acting. I remember being an 8-year-old and saying, “I’m going to be a third-grade teacher and on the side, I’ll act.” [Laughs] I don’t want to be a third-grade teacher anymore, but I do want to always acting be my hobby and it be fun. The day it becomes tedious or the day it becomes something I feel I have to do for money, or because of the industry, or because of some silly image, is the day I quit. If it’s not fueling something, why would I do it?"