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Patricia Clarkson

As Ally Sheedy’s girlfriend Greta in “High Art,” Patricia Clarkson just about does it all: the thick German accent, the heroin addiction, the lesbian thing. The only acting challenge Clarkson, 38, didn’t get handed in that movie was brain cancer.

Which is what her character develops in “The Green Mile,” now lensing with Tom Hanks and director Frank Darabont.

“I’m dying of brain cancer, and I’m not just sick.” Clarkson says. “It turns me into something quite frightening.”

In other words, if “High Art” doesn’t bring her an Oscar nom, there’s always next year.

Clarkson’s turn in “High Art” is not unlike Samuel L. Jackson’s in “Jungle Fever”: It may be the part in which an experienced, gifted stage actor with several minor film credits finally breaks through.

“We needed a real actress,” says “Green Mile” producer David Valdes, “and Patricia comes from the theater.” He remembered the Yale School of Drama grad from his production “The Dead Pool,” Clarkson’s second film after playing Kevin Costner’s wife in “The Untouchables.”

The girlfriend/mom roles may be behind her, finally. After a cameo in “Dancing About Architecture,” the actress goes comedic in “Vanilla Dog,” as the fashion director of Bendel’s. The ultra-versatile thesp gloats, “It’s my Carole Lombard/Roz Russell part.”

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