Abigail Breslin

'Little Miss' actress still a kid at heart

“I like learning to do the stuff I’ve never done, like sword fighting,” beams 11-year-old Abigail Breslin, who swashbuckles in her next movie, “Nim’s Island.” Another perk? “I get to climb a volcano.”

Breslin has been scaling mountains of one kind or another since she was 5. She played Mel Gibson’s daughter in “Signs” and an orphan opposite real-life brother Spencer Breslin in “Raising Helen.”

“With some young actors you have to use a lot of tricks to get them to do something, but with Abby there are no tricks,” says Garry Marshall, who directed her in “Raising Helen” and “Princess Diaries 2.” “You just tell her what you want her to do and she’s able to do it.”

Of course, it was Breslin’s turn as Olive, the hopeful beauty pageant contestant in “Little Miss Sunshine,” that propelled her to the front of the child-actor ranks.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” says manager Beth Cannon of Envision Entertainment. “Now, because of the nomination and the recognition of her talent, she doesn’t have to audition anymore. We’re sent just about every possible role that could work for her.”

Breslin’s salary may have gone up, but her home life hasn’t changed much. “Abby’s still expected to clean her room,” observes Cannon, “and her family still lives in the same place in New York.”

Kenny Goodman, Breslin’s agent at William Morris (which co-reps her with Coast to Coast), believes Breslin’s grounded home life and talent will keep her working for years to come. “Whether or not she’d been nominated, people still respond to her and want to work with her,” says Goodman. “When I talk about Abby, I don’t say she’s a child actress. I say she’s a phenomenal actress.”

Recent breakthrough: Oscar nominated for “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Role model: “Meryl Streep. She was able to show you how mad she was in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ without ever yelling.”

What’s next: Breslin will star alongside Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler in “Nim’s Island.”

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