Career has 'Taken' off with a box office hit

As the kidnapped daughter Liam Neeson would stop at nothing to save, Maggie Grace considered her lead role in “Taken” a gift, even before the film became a robust box office hit that significantly upped her Hollywood profile.

Her grandma, however, saw it differently.

“For so many years, every job I did, I was raped, maimed or murdered,” says Grace, an original cast member of ABC’s “Lost” and veteran of numerous TV crime-drama guest shots. “My grandmother would’ve preferred a more positive change of pace.”

She’s finally getting her wish: Grace’s characters remain physically unharmed in her upcoming slate of high-profile projects. She’s Cameron Diaz’s about-to-be-married younger sister in Tom Cruise starrer “Knight and Day,” and Adrien Brody’s love interest in “The Experiment.”

“Nothing unpleasant happens to me,” Grace reports of the film, a remake of the German pic that revolves around a psychological study and takes place in a makeshift prison, “though lots of unpleasant things happen to him.”

An Ohio native, Grace welcomed the opportunity to return to her Midwestern roots while filming “The Experiment” in Des Moines, Iowa.

“It felt like home,” she says. “I love shooting places that aren’t so jaded, gracious places where they’re excited to have you. I feel like in New York and L.A., they’re like, ‘We don’t want you on our streets!'”

While Grace has taken to the “gypsy lifestyle” that comes with being an actor, she was relieved to be relatively close to her L.A. home while playing a haunted young woman who returns to the small town of her childhood in the upcoming indie “Flying Lessons,” which shot in Santa Ynez.

“She’s pretty tangled up in the head,” Grace says of her character. “There were times I needed to drive home on my days off, just get away, play some pumping music and let it all go.”

Grandma would surely approve.

P.O.V.

Lucky Break: “Lost.” “I had the gift of being part of something more visible within the context of this amazing group of people that were very supportive.”

Favorite Film: Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet.” “It’s the first film I watched over and over.”

Five Years From Now, I Will Be…: “Hopefully, every bit as happy as I am now but a better gardener.”

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