Refreshing Hollywood Starlets
Aug 13, 2010 - by The Fashion Web
Unlike other generations of actresses, none of these eight women are living in the margins of men. Theyre creating complex characters that are often at the center of the film. Jennifer Lawrence headlines a generation of fearless, fiercely talented actresses who are putting the boys to shame.
September Issue of W magazine Covers:
Yaya DaCosta, Jennifer Lawrence, Greta Gerwig,
Kat Dennings, Jessica Chastain, Zoë Kravitz,Emma Roberts, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
My first audition was for a commercial for the lottery. I didnt get it, so I hate the lottery. Since that rejection, Dennings, 24, has become an indie favoritethe smart, seductive, prickly downtown darling in such movies as Nick and Norahs Infinite Playlist and Charlie Bartlett. Her curves and her attitudebemused but sweet, self-aware but curiousset her apart from other young actresses. As a kid growing up near Philadelphia, I wanted to be Christopher Walken, Dennings says. I saw a film version of Puss in Boots, and he was Puss. He had a mouse tail hanging out of his mouth, and he said Growl as only Chris Walken can. That performance made me want to be an actor.
I always wanted to be an actress, and my first audition, when I was nine, was for Blow, playing Johnny Depps daughter. I think everyone in my family was shocked because they sent me on the audition to kind of shut me up about the acting thing. Roberts, 19, has been acting in movies from that point forward, playing everything from Nancy Drew to an orphan who runs a hotel for dogs to a troubled teenager in Its Kind of a Funny Story, which is out September 24. Like her aunt Julia, Emma has an all-American sunniness mixed with an attraction to darker subjects. I dont know that Id do a full-on nude scene, ever, Roberts says. Ive never had a full-on sex scenebut well see.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
I would love to know what its like to be blond, but every time I mention the possibility of going blond, people act like the worlds going to come to an end. I will say that having pink hair was really fun. Winstead went pink (and blue and green and red) in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was released in August. A veteran of television, she was cast by Quentin Tarantino as a snappy, sexy actress in 2007s Death Proof. It was never explained why my character was in a cheerleaders uniform for the entire film, Winstead says. But the outfit made it easy to get into character.
When I was young, I wanted to be able to read minds. I would try to do that with my dogs. It didnt work. With a mysterious quality that seems at once innocent and worldly, Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, has defied racial stereotypes. The script for The Brave One, in which Kravitz gave a startling performance, had called for a European-accented blond, but the actresss audition demanded a total rethink. Im a pretty obnoxious person, Kravitz says, so Ill make a sex scene as uncomfortable as I can just to break the ice.
I grew up in Sacramento, and it seemed like movies were handed down from gods. Gerwig, who earlier this year starred opposite Ben Stiller in Greenberg, began her acting career as the leading lady of Mumblecore. The movement was born when a group of filmmakers met at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, and decided to make movies together. The budgets were minuscule and the films largely improvised, but the acting was fresh and realistic and vibrant in the style of John Cassavetes. A lot of Mumblecore was about awkwardness, especially with sex, Gerwig says. I think a lot of sex is very awkward. Instances of awkward lovemaking probably outpace instances of beautiful, seamless lovemaking, at least in my experience.
As a kid I wasnt shy. Im an extrovert who wants to be an introvert. Lawrences lack of shyness has resulted in one of the boldest performances of 2010: her Ree Dolly in Winters Bone. Like many actresses of her generation, Lawrence started youngat 14, she left her home in Louisville, Kentucky, and moved to New York. I dont know if I was driven or stubborn or both, she explains. But I didnt think I could fail.
I want to do a silent film, even though its out of fashion now. DaCosta, who studied dance as a child, has an innate stillness and elegance that would be ideal for the cinematic intensity of images without words. In 2009s The Messenger she played an army wife who has lost her husband, and her grief went beyond speech. Similarly, when Mark Ruffalo tells her character in The Kids Are All Right that he wants to end their relationship, the shock and pain are registered in her eyes. I grew up watching a lot of old stuff, DaCosta says. The first movie I remember seeing was The Red Balloon, which is silent, and it made me feel things that Id love to make other people feel.
I was the girl who never thought Id be anything but an actor, so what Ive really had to struggle with is having patience. Born in Northern California and a graduate of Juilliard, Chastain was cast by reclusive director Terrence Malick to star opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in The Tree of Life, in theaters this fall. He may have seen her performance in Salome, opposite Al Pacino, where she did the Dance of the Seven Veils. My characters goal was to give herself away, Chastain says. To be completely naked. So I went to some strip clubs in L.A. just to be, like, Okay, this is normal. Theres nothing taboo about it.
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