Young actresses these days are more likely to get press for losing or gaining weight and/or showing up at Hollywood bashes sans underoos than for any actual acting skills. So imagine our delight when, in recent months, three obvious über-talents—Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan and Mia Wasikowska—burst forth onto the silver screen with chops enough to utterly confound the gossip mill.
The 26-year-old recent Yale graduate (and granddaughter of Elia) got her start off-Broadway and moved up to the real thing before setting her sights on the cinema. After small parts in Revolutionary Road and Me and Orson Welles, Kazan’s biggest role to date comes in director Bradley Rust Gray’s The Exploding Girl. She plays the film’s title character, which she helped Gray shape as he wrote the script. Her performance is tenacious, tender, ultimately cathartic—and bound to make her a star.
Mulligan got her start in British period pieces—Austen, Dickens—before playing a young woman searching for herself among homework and a love affair in last fall’s An Education. She’s 24, but there’s something both beguiling and arresting in her droll face and studied manner—she could easily play roles years younger or older. In 2010, Mulligan will appear in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps alongside, well, everyone, and will return to her literary-adaptation roots with Brighton Rock (based on a Graham Greene novel) and Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel about a boarding school in the countryside of a dystopian-future Britain.
From the hills of Tennessee in last fall’s That Evening Sun to the depths of Tim Burton’s strange mind in the upcoming Alice in Wonderland, this 20-year-old is quickly becoming known for roles that take her far outside her native Australia. With her careful, knowing onscreen presence, Wasikowska has more than held her own against Hal Holbrook and Johnny Depp in the roles of their lifetimes, though she’s still waiting for the definitive moment of her young career—perhaps it’ll be in the upcoming, currently-untitled Gus Van Sant project in which she’ll star, or Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre adaptation, for which she’s rumored to have been cast as the titular lovelorn governess.
[Zoe Kazan photo courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories. Carey Mulligan photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. Mia Wasikowska photo by Cooper Dunn.]