Finally! The Vanity Fair annual “Hollywood Issue” cover has been revealed, and I’m happy to say this looks like a return to the Hollywood Issues of yore (like, six years ago). For the past few years, VF has been doing crazy, stupid, and ugly things with their Hollywood Issue, and I hope they keep this one to the old standard, where breakout stars, great performances and comebacks each got their own separate page and description, rather than some sort of dumb photo essay (we get it, Penelope Cruz as a showgirl… now, let’s try something else). Anyway, I digress. The new cover (done by Annie Leibovitz) shows off some of the best young actresses of the year, many of whom are up (or have been up) for significant awards. Just glancing at the spread, I’m liking it. No one ghostly pale with ghoulish grey skin and vampire red lips (as they’ve been styled in past years). Everyone looks fresh and pretty, albeit a little overly-Photoshopped in some cases. Here are the descriptions for the girls:
The Cupid’s-bow lips, the downy-soft cheeks, the button nose: 27-year-old Abbie Cornish has those Ivory-soap-girl features we’re so familiar with, and yet hers is a face it’s hard to stop staring at—testament to the intelligence, vulnerability, and sensuality she brings to her characters. Her breakthrough for American audiences came with fellow Australian Heath Ledger, as a junkie in 2006’s Candy, free-falling from invincible heroin highs to soul-seizing anguish. Kimberly Peirce’s Stop-Loss saw her fleeing the law with Ryan Phillippe’s character. (Enter some real-life drama: Phillippe, then the husband of Reese Witherspoon, would soon become her boyfriend.) She may have been her loveliest in Jane Campion’s Bright Star, playing John Keats’s muse, the flirty and forthright Fanny Brawne.
With her patrician looks and celebrated pedigree—she is the daughter of American operatic soprano Maria Ewing and legendary British theater director Sir Peter Hall—one might assume that Cambridge-educated Rebecca Hall, 27, waltzed into an acting career on her name alone. Well, O.K., it didn’t hurt in the beginning, when she starred, at the age of 10, in her father’s television adaptation of the British novel The Camomile Lawn, or 10 years later in his production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession. But her pitch-perfect realization of an indignant, tightly wound American in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) proved she had the chops and the charm, and her sophisticated wit landed her the role of David Frost’s delightfully fabulous girlfriend in Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon. Next up is Nicole Holofcener’s Please Give, and Ben Affleck’s Boston crime drama The Town.
At just 24, Anna Kendrick has already shown impressive range, from Bella Swan’s twit friend Jessica in the Twilight saga to George Clooney’s buttoned-up colleague in Up in the Air. At age 12, the Maine native was nominated for a Tony Award, for her role in the 1998 musical High Society. After she auditioned for the role of Natalie in Up in the Air, she thought she’d tanked, given director Jason Reitman’s utter non-reaction. Turned out he’d written the role for her, after having seen her in the small high-school film Rocket Science. Next, she’ll star with Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Carey Mulligan’s first movie role was as Keira Knightley’s giddy sister in Pride and Prejudice. A moment later, the former Catholic-boarding-school student was the buzz of Sundance, thanks to her exquisite performance as a 1960s English high-school senior in An Education. Big-league directors haven’t wasted any time in filling up the 24-year-old’s dance card. Mark Romanek chose her as the lead in Never Let Me Go, while Oliver Stone cast her in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, as the daughter of Gordon Gekko and the fiancée of trader Shia LaBeouf—who also happens to be her real-life love.
She was more dippy than mean in her 2004 film debut, Mean Girls, announcing vacantly that her breasts could predict the weather. But it took a most unlikely confection—the movie musical Mamma Mia!—for the world to see Amanda Seyfried in her full, dewy, wide-eyed loveliness. Since then she has become the go-to girl for modern fairy tales, including Lasse Hallström’s Dear John and the forthcoming Letters to Juliet. But watch for a 180-degree turn in this month’s Chloe, Atom Egoyan’s artsy sexual thriller, in which 24-year-old Seyfried plays the alluring, troubled complication in a failing marriage.
In an era in which every teen star has a stylist and a bland pop record, 19-year-old Kristen Stewart is the tough-minded, no-frills anomaly. Stewart played Bella Swan not as a cartoon but as anxious and complicated—making the predicament of being torn between a vampire and a werewolf seem … well, almost plausible. The daughter of a television-producer father and an Australian script-supervisor mother, the L.A.-bred Stewart has been consistently drawn to melancholy over flash. Between Twilight installments, her edgy trajectory will continue with Welcome to the Rileys, about the friendship between a stripper and a married businessman, played by James Gandolfini, and The Runaways, about rocker Joan Jett.
Emma Stone, 21, emerged from the Judd Apatow comedy crew, having held her own in Superbad, as Jonah Hill’s way-cool, super-smokin’ home-ec partner, and she struck gold with Zombieland. But her comedy credentials go all the way back to Arizona, where she grew up idolizing Gilda Radner and Molly Shannon and cut her teeth with a local theater troupe. At age 15—after giving her parents a PowerPoint presentation about ditching high school for a career in acting—she left with her mother for Hollywood, where she grew into that alluring raspy voice and the Jessica Rabbit looks.
Mia Wasikowska, 20, is the daughter of a Polish photographer mother and an Australian painter-and-collagist father. Her breakthrough on the HBO series In Treatment, as the fragile and yet fierce gymnast Sophie, suggested a deep intelligence and a reservoir of talent. Director Edward Zwick cast her in Defiance, about a group of Polish Jews banding together to escape the Nazis. Next she will play the title role in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the love interest in Gus Van Sant’s next film, and the daughter of Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, two gay moms, in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right.
Evan Rachel Wood, 24, got her start locally, playing Helen Keller opposite her mom in a North Carolina production of The Miracle Worker. When her parents divorced, she moved to Los Angeles with her mom and soon mesmerized audiences in Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen, a tour de force of teenage angst. This tightly wound rebel soul attracted the likes of Woody Allen, who cast her in Whatever Works, Julie Taymor, who picked her for the lead in the surreal Across the Universe, and Darren Aronofsky, who chose her as Mickey Rourke’s estranged daughter in The Wrestler—and rocker Marilyn Manson, to whom she is engaged. Given that her interests lie anywhere but on the beaten path, is it any wonder her upcoming superhero project is Spider-Man … the Broadway-musical version, directed by Taymor and set to the music of Bono and the Edge?
[From Vanity Fair]
Now that I’ve gotten a closer look, it’s kind of cracking me up how Evan Rachel Wood is like the only one who seems to have been caught off-guard. All of the other girls are doing their sexy pouts or their I’m-so-sexy-I’m-panting look. ERW looks like “WTF?” Anyhoodle, Gawker has a good breakdown on which of these girls will stand the test of time in Hollywood, and it’s worth a quick review. Man, now I can’t wait for the whole issue!
Oh, here’s the behind-the-scenes video too, from VF:
Vanity Fair photos courtesy of Just Jared.