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Mia Wasikowska

14 Oct 1989 (Age 28)

Mia Wasikowska Biography

Mia Wasikowska born in 14 October 1989 is an Australian actress. After starting her career in Australian shorts and feature-length films, she first became known to a wider audience following her critically acclaimed work on the HBO television series In Treatment. She gained worldwide prominence in 2010 after starring as Alice in Tim Burton's $1 billion-grossing Alice in Wonderland and appearing in the Sundance Film Festival hit The Kids Are All Right. In 2011, she will portray the title character in Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Jane Eyre, star in Gus Van Sant's Restless, and film a main role in Rodrigo Garcia's Albert Nobbs.

Personal life

Wasikowska was born and raised in Canberra, and is the middle child of three, with an older sister and a younger brother. Her mother, Marzena Wasikowska, is a Polish photographer, while her father, John Reid,is an Australian photographer and collagist. In 1998, when she was eight years old, Wasikowska and her family moved to Szczecin, Poland for a year, after her mother received a grant to produce a collection of work based on her experience of having emigrated to Australia in 1974 at the age of eleven. Wasikowska and her siblings took part in the production as subjects; she said to Johanna Schneller of the Toronto Globe and Mail in July 2010, "I always had fun being photographed by my mum. We never had to smile or perform. We weren't always conscious of being photographed. We'd just do our thing, and she'd take pictures of us." The family also traveled through France, Germany, and Russia during this period.

Wasikowska began training as a ballerina at the age of eight, and by the time she was fourteen, she was training 35 hours a week in addition to going to school full time. However, it was at that point that she decided to quit, as the increasing pressure to achieve physical perfection was affecting her self-esteem. Despite having an initial aversion to performing, she was simultaneously intrigued by acting and the potential within film to explore life's imperfections after being exposed to European and Australian cinema, particularly Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy and Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career. She also cited Robin Wright Penn and Holly Hunter as inspirations to break into acting in a January 2009 interview with Australian magazine Sunday Life.

In her spare time, she is an avid photographer, often chronicling her travels as well as capturing images of her film sets with a Rolleiflex camera between takes; she explained the latter in a February 2010 interview with The Times, "We have this incredible perspective as actors, and I wanted to show what I am seeing when everybody is staring at me." She continues to make her home in Canberra with her family between projects


Early career

After signing with a Sydney-based agency in 2004, Wasikowska landed her first acting role with a two-episode stint on the Australian soap All Saints. She had just turned fifteen when she was cast in her Australian film debut, 2006's Suburban Mayhem, for which she received a nomination for a Young Actor's AFI Award. That same year, she also appeared in her first short film, Lens Love Story, in which she had no dialogue.

In 2007, Wasikowska appeared in the crocodile horror film Rogue, alongside Radha Mitchell and Sam Worthington, and the drama September, for which she beat out nearly 200 other actresses by receiving her part on the spot by director Peter Carstairs following her audition. She then starred in the acclaimed short film I Love Sarah Jane, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.

Beginning of career in the United States

At the age of seventeen, Wasikowska received her first break in the United States when she was cast as Sophie, a suicidal gymnast, in HBO's acclaimed weekly drama In Treatment, after she auditioned for the role by videotape. The part required her to leave school in Canberra and move to Los Angeles for three months, while enrolling in correspondence courses. She earned critical acclaim for her performance as the troubled teenager treated by psychotherapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne), which included praise for her excellent American accent. Wasikowska revealed in an October 2008 interview with Variety that she was something of a mimic as a child and that the large influx of American films and TV shows made it easier for Australians to pick up the accent.

The exposure from the show led to Wasikowska picking up her first American film appearances. She played the brief role of Chaya, the young forest wife of Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell), in Defiance. Director Edward Zwick cast her without having seen her in In Treatment, explaining to the Australian edition of Vogue, "Her inner life is so vivid that it comes across even when she's being still." Her next part was that of aviation pioneer Elinor Smith in Mira Nair's 2009 biopic Amelia. In June 2008, due to her work on In Treatment, she was a recipient of an Australians in Film Breakthrough Award.

Wasikowska played the supporting role of Pamela Choat in the 2009 Southern Gothic independent film That Evening Sun, opposite Hal Holbrook. Director Scott Teems, seeking a young actress who bore a resemblance to Sissy Spacek, initially balked at the casting director's first suggestion of Wasikowska for the part, as he was adamant at casting all native Southerners for the sake of authenticity. However, after auditions with other actresses were unsuccessful, Teems relented and summoned Wasikowska for auditioning. She had only two hours to prepare, which she spent watching clips of Coal Miner's Daughter online in order to quickly learn a Southern accent, and impressed Teems enough that she had the distinction of being the only non-American actor cast in the film. She was nominated for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, which she lost to Mo'Nique (Precious), though the film received a South by Southwest award for Best Ensemble Cast.

In July 2008, after a lengthy search, Wasikowska was cast as the eponymous heroine in Tim Burton's retelling of Alice in Wonderland, alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway.She sent a videotaped audition to casting directors in London, and her first live reading in Los Angeles occurred on the same day as her Evening Sun audition. After three more auditions in London – which saw her flying back and forth from Australia to England in just as many weeks – she was awarded the role. Burton cited Wasikowska's "old-soul quality" as a catalyst in casting her as Alice: "Because you’re witnessing this whole thing through her eyes, it needed somebody who can subtly portray that.” Wasikowska portrayed a nineteen-year-old Alice returning to Wonderland for the first time since her youth after escaping an unwanted marriage proposal. Her affinity for the character played a part in her desire for the role, as she had read the Lewis Carroll books as a child and was a fan of Jan Švankmajer's 1988 stop-motion film Alice. She also saw Burton's version of the classic story as a chance to explore a deeper characterization of Alice to whom she felt young women her age could relate, for which she drew on personal experiences. “Alice has a certain discomfort within herself, within society and among her peers; I  have definitely felt similarly about all of those things, so I could really understand her not fitting in. Alice also [is] an observer who is thinking a lot, and that's similar to how I am.”

For Lisa Cholodenko's indie comedy The Kids Are All Right, Wasikowska was cast as Joni, the bookish daughter of a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who was conceived via artificial insemination. At her younger brother's (Josh Hutcherson) request, she seeks out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo).During shooting, she successfully campaigned to have Joni wear pajamas in several home scenes, as a nod to what the actress regularly did herself while home in Australia. She explained to Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore, "[Joni's] very comfortable in her place, with who she is. So I pushed to have her, whenever she was at home, in her pajamas. That’s comfortable! And that’s something I do.”

On 25 October, Wasikowska was honored with the Hollywood Awards' Breakthrough Actress Award, which was presented to her by Bryce Dallas Howard. She won the AFI International Award for Best Actress on 12 December for her performance in Alice in Wonderland.

Wasikowska was recognized by Forbes as one of the highest-grossing actors of 2010 with $1.03 billion, tied for second position with Johnny Depp and behind leader Leonardo DiCaprio, whose films grossed $1.1 billion for the year.

Upcoming projects

Wasikowska was cast as the female lead in Gus Van Sant's 2011 release Restless, for which she had turned down a part in Robert Redford's upcoming The Conspirator in the process. The portrayal of her character, a terminally-ill sixteen-year-old, required her to crop her long hair. She then filmed Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which she stars as the title character opposite Michael Fassbender as Rochester, from March to May 2010. This in turn resulted in a scheduling conflict that forced her to withdraw from the lead in Julia Leigh's 2011 Australian independent film Sleeping Beauty, and she was replaced by Emily Browning. Though Wasikowska was one of many names shortlisted for the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, she declined Fincher's offer to screen test for the part.

In an August 2010 interview, director Jim Jarmusch revealed that Wasikowska, along with Fassbender, Tilda Swinton and John Hurt, would be starring in a new untitled project centered on music and scheduled to begin filming in early 2011, pending financing. New York magazine reported on 17 September that she would appear alongside Joaquin Phoenix in Steven Shainberg's currently unfinanced comedy-drama Big Shoe.

Wasikowska is currently shooting Rodrigo Garcia's Albert Nobbs, for which she was a last-minute replacement for Amanda Seyfried. On 18 January, she joined the cast of Robert Connolly's adaptation of the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge, alongside Anthony LaPaglia, Vera Farmiga and Sam Neill, with shooting to commence in June in New York and Melbourne, Australia.

On 19 January, Variety reported that Wasikowska also had offers to join both John Hillcoat's Prohibition drama The Wettest County in the World and Park Chan-wook's Stoker, but talks were on hold due to a scheduling conflict. One week later, Deadline.com stated that she had entered negotiations to play the lead in Stoker, a thriller about a teenager whose enigmatic uncle returns after her father's death.The film is scheduled to begin shooting in the spring.
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