Marling: Brings experience to ‘Earth’

10 Actors to Watch 2011: Brit Marling

Before the Sundance Film Festival, Brit Marling had been butting up against the challenges facing any young actress.

“When I came to L.A., I really couldn’t figure it out,” she admits. “If you didn’t start when you were 3 years old doing commercials, how do you begin?”

So Marling decided to take matters into her own hands, co-writing, producing and starring in two shoestring indies: “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice,” which both premiered in Park City this year.

Though the actress had studied theater growing up, when it came time for college, she opted for a broad liberal arts degree over drama school.

“How could you be an actor and not study theology and physics?” asks Marling, who settled on economics as her major. Then she met Mike Cahill and Zal Batmanglij, fellow Georgetown students who had directed a short film featured in an on-campus sprocket opera.

Impressed, she introduced herself to the pair, sparking an intense friendship that carried through college (she spent the rest of her time at Georgetown juggling econometrics proofs and making short films with the guys) and beyond. After graduating, she and Cahill went to Cuba and made a documentary called “Boxers and Ballerinas,” while Batmanglij enrolled at the American Film Institute.

Then came the disappointment of trying to make it in Hollywood.

“I’m always frustrated by the idea that so much of your ability to practice your craft is beyond your control,” Marling says. “I realized the quickest way to do what I want, which is to act, would be to teach myself to write.”

So she made “Earth” (with Cahill) and “Voice” (with Batmanglij). While vastly different in style, the two projects — one a portrait of regret set against an ambitious sci-fi premise, the other a mind-bender about a beguiling cult leader — reveal Marling as a unique quantity, more ingenious than ingenue, with a soulful streak that comes through both onscreen and in the material itself.

After Sundance, Fox Searchlight snapped up rights to both pics and greenlit another, “The East.” Marling also stars in Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep,” in which she could act someone else’s words, for once.

“The thing that is most exciting and intoxicating is to lose yourself in someone else’s imagination,” she says.

Lucky break: “Going to the Georgetown Film Festival and meeting Mike and Zal and finding two collaborators for life. And then Sundance.”
Favorite film: “‘Lust, Caution.’ I love that it’s an espionage thriller with a female protagonist.”
Career I’d like to emulate: “Anthony Hopkins. It’s astounding to have that longevity and to keep growing.”

Benedict Cumberbatch | Jean Dujardin | Luke Evans | Josh Hutcherson | Felicity Jones | Taylor Kitsch | Brit Marling | Elizabeth Olsen | Octavia Spencer | Shailene Woodley

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content