Watch out Jessica Chastain, there’s a new “It” girl in Hollywood, and her name is Brit Marling.
Well, let’s be honest, Chastain isn’t going anywhere…and there is plenty of room for both of the enormously talented and beautiful actresses.
Chastain, an Oscar® nominee for The Help and star of a slew of other movies last year (The Tree of Life, Texas Killing Fields, Take Shelter, The Debt) and in the upcoming Zero Dark Thirty about the manhunt and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden, rose to the scene in epic time, quickly solidifying herself as a super-talent who could do it all, not missing a beat starring opposite names like Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Sam Worthington, Michael Shannon, and Tom Hardy earlier this year in Lawless.
Meryl Streep had a similar meteoric rise a few decades ago when, in the span of ten years, she earned the first eight of her now 17 Oscar® nominations, winning for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice (and scoring her third earlier this year for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady).
Like Chastain and Streep in the beginning of their careers, Marling is a quickly emerging talent who could very well follow in the paths of the highly-regarded actresses.
Currently starring opposite Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon in the financial thriller Arbitrage (in theaters and available On-Demand), Marling plays the daughter of Gere’s Bernie Madoff-esque hedge fund CEO, and she also happens to be Chief Financial Officer of his company. While he tries to cover up a $400 million hole in the books, she, doing her job, starts to see something’s wrong, getting a “don’t be silly” response from dear ol’ deceitful dad. But she holds her own – both the character and actress.
“Marling reaffirms the singularity of her onscreen presence,” Variety critic Peter DeBruge said of her performance, “conveying strength, sensitivity and smarts.”
An economics major at Georgetown University, Marling seemingly shares a lot of the qualities of her Arbitrage character, especially if you judge her first two movies.
Marling came to the attention of audiences in Another Earth and Sound of My Voice, movies she co-wrote with the directors of each – Mike Cahill and Zal Batmanglij, respectively – both debuting at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival where Fox Searchlight bought the pair of movies.
In the first to get a theatrical release, Another Earth, Marling plays Rhoda, a young woman who wins a trip to visit a planet identical to Earth that emerges in the sky, meantime trying to atone for a deadly mistake she made on this Earth.
“Marling has a natural beauty and an immediacy to her emotions that make her impossible to stop watching,” Associated Press movie critic Christy Lemire observed. ”She’s young, bright and fearless, and that’s an exciting thing to see.”
The reviews were similar for Sound of My Voice, where she plays Maggie, a woman who claims to be from the future, now assembling a cult following, her motives mysterious. ”Marling’s performance is effortless, irrefutable certainty,” critic Todd Gilchrist said.
Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman described Marling’s performance as “a mix of sensuality, hostility, and all-knowing attitude that is freakishly captivating, not to mention a little scary.”
There no questioning that Marling has made an impressive entrance onto the Hollywood scene, nothing scary about it. She has already shot another movie she co-wrote with Batmanglij, again re-teaming for the screenplay, called The East. Building on the relationship they already have with Fox Searchlight, the studio financed this movie, an action thriller which also stars Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård, where a contract worker inflitrates an anarchist group and ends up falling for the leader, played by Skarsgård.
She also co-stars in Robert Redford’s political thriller The Company You Keep (pictured right), which is still awaiting a release date, is currently shooting the Terrence Malick-produced The Green Blade Rises with Diane Kruger and Wes Bentley, and she just landed roles opposite Glenn Close and James Franco in The Grace That Keeps This World (based on the Matthew Aldrich book of the same name), and in the dramedy Posthumous, she’ll play a reporter investigating an artist – played by ”Boardwalk Empire”s Jack Huston – whose work goes up in value after he is presumed dead.
Marling is a compelling actress to watch not just for the obvious physical reasons, but her true talents shine in the intriguing, unique choices she makes. Part of the allure may be that she isn’t a formally trained actress and, on the surface, it appears as though she doesn’t overthink her performances … she is honest and natural, constantly fresh and unpredictable in her approach. It is no doubt just a matter of time before Marling finds herself at the Academy Awards with a lot of fans cheering in her corner.
The Seven Sees takes a closer look at this new darling of Hollywood, her compelling work, and the event that brought she, Cahill and Batmanglij together.