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Brit Marling Of “Another Earth” — Inspiring Story Alert!

 

The Sundance Film Festival loves a double dipper. This year, the festival went crazy for two young actresses who had two movies screening—Elizabeth Olsen, who has the distinct advantage of being the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and an unknown by the name of Brit Marling. Folks liked 27-year-old Brit in “Sound of My Voice,” a futuristic indie thriller about a religious cult. But they loved in her “Another Earth,” a flick with an unusual concept—as a 17-year-old astrophysics students drives home from a party celebrating her admission to MIT, she looks out her car window, angling to see a newly discovered planet that has become visible in the horizon and crashes headfirst into another car, killing the wife and son of the family in it. Four years later, out of jail, she sets out to find the man whose life she ruined (Hey Ethan from “Lost”!) and befriends him, as scientists discover that this new planet is actually an exact doppelganger of Earth. It sounds heavy, but it manages to be totally restrained at the same time. In the movie, Brit gives an amazing performance, both weighty and subtle at the same time. Whispers began that she could be this year’s Jennifer Lawrence and end up with an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

But it actually isn’t even Brit’s acting skills that have me thoroughly fascinated with her. It’s her unusual biography. See, in a parallel life, Brit is an investment banker. Related: 8 Sundance Film Festival Flicks We Want To See NOW

Brit come to acting through the usual channels. She went to college at Georgetown and she majored in economics and art. She interned for Goldman Sachs during a summer and was headed down the path of being an analyst. But it just wasn’t for her. “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,” she says. “They were getting this energy from it. But there was no electrical charge in it for me.”

So she moved to Los Angeles with two friends, aspiring directors Mike Cahill (who happens to be an ex-boyfriend) and Zal Batmanglij, and set out to be an actress. “I was trying to go on auditions for things and trying to get an agent, but you can’t get an agent until you’ve done work, [and] you can’t do work without an agent,” Marling recalled. “It’s truly an insane, impenetrable system. Unless you start acting in Huggies commercials when you’re 2. . . . I don’t know how people do it.”

So she decided to start writing. See, she isn’t just “Another Earth”‘s lead actress—she penned the script as well and set about getting it made with Cahill. Fox Searchlight it picked up for distribution at Sundance, and it was released a few weeks ago. It’s currently playing in 24 cities.

So what’s Brit doing now? With the possibility of an Oscar nomination in the air—maybe for Original Screenplay, maybe for Best Actress, maybe for both—basically every big time director in Hollywood is tripping all over themselves to work with her. But it’s not easy to sell Brit on a part. “When I read a script, I never look at the cover page first,” she said. “It always has who’s picked it up, who’s involved. You get a feel for how much money’s behind it. I always take that page off and read the script and go by that. If the story’s great, it doesn’t matter if it’s being made for $500,000 or $100 million at a studio.”

She apparently passed on Steven Soderbergh’s “Magic Mike,” aka the flick where Channing Tatum channels his stripper past. She’s also supposedly being courted for Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep,” where she would star opposite Shia LaBeouf. She’s also who Paramount reportedly wants for “One Shot,” the Tom Cruise vehicle based on a Lee Childs character. But there’s no word yet on whether any of these projects will capture her attention. The only definite on her plate sise “The East,” an eco thriller about an FBI agent who embeds herself in a eco-terrorist group that she wrote along with Batmanglij. It will most likely begin filming in October.

Congratulations, Brit. And thanks for the reminder about how important it is to follow passion rather than feel toggled to the safe bet.

[Washington Post]
[USA Today]
[NY Mag]

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