Source: USA Today
Step aside, comic-book heroes, teen wizards and hapless hangover sufferers. Sundance breakout Brit Marling aims to upend the male domination of this year’s summer cinema when her festival hit, Another Earth, opens Friday.
No superpowers, magical spells or Advil required. Instead, this economics major has bewitched audiences with a potent combination of beauty and brains that some say recalls the young Meryl Streep. She has been lauded for possessing what The Hollywood Reporter has described as “a face of utter transparency,” one that allows Marling to express myriad emotions without uttering a sound. Although this might not work to her advantage during a game of party poker, it certainly seems to serve her well on screen. Not only is Marling hotly tipped for big things on screen, she is also receiving a great deal of critical acclaim for her work behind the camera.
It might have taken a while for another multi-talented blonde, Kristen Wiig, to realize she could crack the A-list ranks by co-writing a showcase like Bridesmaids. But Marling, 27, a class valedictorian at Georgetown University, started spinning the sorts of stories she wanted to appear in soon after she realized that acting, not investment banking, was her true calling.
“There were other people around me who really loved waking up with the market and watching the way what was happening politically in one country would change things in another,” says the onetime intern at Goldman Sachs. “They were getting this energy from it. But there was no electrical charge in it for me.”
What did prove a turn-on to Marling, who studied theater at her high school in Winter Park, Fla., was coming up with scenarios that challenged her as a performer.
With fellow Georgetown alum and ex-boyfriend Mike Cahill, 32, who also directs, she devised Another Earth, a provocative sci-fi morality tale that is big on emotion and light on special effects. The plot: Budding astrophysicist Rhoda’s dreams of attending MIT are shattered when she is distracted while driving by the sight of a just-discovered second Earth as it hovers above. She broadsides a car after a night of partying, killing the pregnant wife and son of a noted composer (William Mapother of TV’s Lost).
Released from jail four years later, a repentant Rhoda covertly seeks out the still-devastated survivor with life-altering results.
One of the more intriguing conceits of Another Earth is that the twin planet is populated by doubles of ourselves. And at Q&A sessions at early screenings, audience members often asked Marling whether she would want to meet her other self.
“That’s because they think about it themselves,” she says. “The movie has a way of leaving room for your own imagination and to wonder about the choices you’ve made. The kinds of films we always like are the ones you walk out of and you are quiet for a while as you absorb it. Then you get in the car and everybody starts talking because they each have a different opinion.”
Cahill says it didn’t take long for him and Marling to know they were better off as friends and collaborators than a romantic couple. “She is one of the smartest people I know,” he says. “Her understanding of poetry and of art is profound. She wanted to act, I wanted to direct and we had this idea, so we developed it with that in mind.”
But being an actor, especially one that has been pegged as a rising star, often leads to celebrityhood. That is another self that Marling is not as eager to face.
“Your job as an actor and writer is to lose yourself and certainly not talk about yourself,” she says. “I don’t know what to say. I mostly feel awkward, especially since I don’t normally wear much hair and makeup. The first couple times, I would go into the bathroom and think, ‘Where am I?’ and just start taking Q-Tips and wiping it all off. I’m trying to get a little better at it.”