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WASIKOWSKA. Fresh, youthful appeal. photo by Ruben V. Nepales



Only in Hollywood
Newcomer goes from Alice to Jane Eyre

By Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:54:00 03/05/2010

Filed Under: Cinema, Celebrities, Entertainment (general)

LOS ANGELES?Mia Wasikowska (pronounced ?Vah-she-kov-ska?) made a splash as the virtually unknown girl who got the plum title role in Tim Burton?s ?Alice in Wonderland.? Yet, here she is, creating more headlines?by bagging the part of the eponymous heroine in the new film version of ?Jane Eyre.?

?We begin shooting ?Jane Eyre? in March,? announced Mia, who arrived for this interview in a stunning short hairdo. The pixie cut adds a fresh, youthful appeal to Mia, who reminds us of Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett. We?re beginning to suspect there?s a factory somewhere in the Outback that?s churning out good Aussie thespians for export to the world.

Speaking in a quiet tone, the girl who first gained attention as the suicidal teenager in HBO?s ?In Treatment? elaborates on the umpteenth big-screen version of Emily Bronte?s classic Gothic tale. Cary Fukunaga, who directed ?Sin Nombre,? last year?s acclaimed indie film about the harsh realities faced by would-be US illegal immigrants, helms the movie with Michael Fassbender as the tortured Rochester.

Wonderful choice

?It?s faithful to the book, but I think Cary is a wonderful choice as the director,? Mia shared. ?He?s not an obvious choice, so he?s going to bring some exciting energy to the movie. I can?t wait to discover for myself what he?s going to do with it!?

Of landing the role of Alice, the 20-year-old admitted, ?I never expected to get the part. I?m not usually the person who gets these roles. It was a long process of auditioning.?

Calm and modest, Mia credits her family and upbringing in her native Canberra for giving her a solid background. She likes to say that all this newfound fame fades in the background when she?s back with her family in Australia. So, working with Tim and Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter), Helena Bonham-Carter and Anne Hathaway was a completely new experience for her.

?No, it definitely was not normal,? she remarked with a wistful smile. ?You try to not get too overwhelmed by them. But, on the first day, to walk into the set and see people whose work I admire was surreal. Johnny was pretty much disguised as the Mad Hatter. It was almost a shock when I saw him out of his costume. It was like, ?Oh, that is who?s behind all of that.??

Mia offered succinct comments on what she picked up from working with the A-list pros: ?I learned how they take ownership of what they do, especially Johnny. He makes very brave decisions?and unapologetically. The most interesting actors are the ones who take risks and do something that could potentially fail. But, at least, they?re doing something new and exciting.?

Growing up with parents who are both photographers, Mia was exposed to the arts early on. She trained in ballet from age 9 to 14. ?I really loved dance, but when I was 14, it became very much about achieving perfection,? she explained. ?At the same time, I was watching a lot of films. I like the contrast between the perfection in dance while in film, we?re able to explore imperfection, and the things that aren?t so perfect become really interesting. So, I started acting when I was 14. I have loved it since.?

From a recurring role in the Aussie soap, ?All Saints,? she did several films in her homeland, until she landed the role in ?In Treatment.? To this day, she cherishes her part in that acclaimed TV series. ?When I was a teenager, I never really identified with the usual teen roles. But, that character was very real to me. Those kinds of characters show the complex lives of young people.?

?I love going to Australia,? added Mia, who has a sister and a brother. ?There?s a lot of excitement and hype here, but when I go home, I?m very much a regular young person. That?s where I find joy.?

The passion of her parents for photography has rubbed off on her. ?I am into photography,? disclosed the budding star. ?I love having a creative outlet that I can control, because in film, you wait until a role comes up.?

Lesbian couple

At the rate she?s being cast in choice projects, Mia is likely to hear the call to go to the set more often. She appears in Lisa Cholodenko?s ?The Kids Are Alright,? an acclaimed entry at Sundance last January. Mia plays the daughter of a lesbian couple (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) who searches for her biological father (Mark Ruffalo).

Last December, Mia wrapped up filming Gus Van Sant?s ?Restless.? ?I?ve been a fan of Gus for years, so to be able to work with him was special,? she enthused. ?He handles adolescence in a very intelligent way. He shows young people as complex beings. It?s a love story about two teenagers who are affected by death. Although it sounds grim, the film is actually very playful. It?s a beautiful story of how, when somebody is right for you, he brings out the best in you. It?s by first-time writer, Jason Lew. And, with Gus, that was another situation that I learned so much from.?

Mia compared all these adventures to those of her character, Alice: ?This is a very different world, so the whole experience has been like being in my own Wonderland,? she said with a shy smile.

E-mail rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com

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