In movies like 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' and 'The Prestige,' Rebecca Hall stole scenes from women way more famous than herself. To her 2010 co-stars (Blake Lively and Amanda Peet), we say: Consider yourself warned
Go back to Athenian drama, if you want. In the annals of acting, you won't find a feat more impressive than the one Rebecca Hall pulled off in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona: almost stealing a movie in which Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson go lesbian. And she did it with fire-eyed soliloquies, not nude shots, and by making her character's ambivalence—about the meaning of betrayal—the most heartbreaking conflict in the film.
A lot of women who succeed in Hollywood started acting because they're hot. Rebecca Hall is the opposite: a theater geek who just happens to possess terrifying beauty. The daughter of a British director and an American opera singer, Hall grew up in England and staked her reputation on the London stage. Even now, at 27, with a Golden Globe nomination under her belt for Vicky, she's still a boho; she lives out of two suitcases and stays in low-rent hipster preserves like Echo Park when she has to be in L.A. That Woody cast her was a surprise, even to the actress herself. He ended their quickie meeting before she could take off her hat and scarf. "It's genius," Hall says, "because most people decide in three seconds—and then spend twenty minutes on small talk."
A mere glance at Hall may have been enough for the Woodman to make up his mind, but Hall's looks almost stopped director Nicole Holofcener from casting her as the lead in Please Give (due out today), a hit at Sundance, in which she once again upstages a more established beauty (Amanda Peet). In the film about two Manhattan families who torment each other, Hall stars as a self-effacing nurse who tests an endless parade of breasts for signs of cancer. The problem: The nurse is supposed to be, according to the script, "unattractive, schlumpy, and miserable," says Hall. Her solution: "I saw a $5 barbershop, walked in, and said, 'Cut it off at the ponytail.' " Impulsive but effective. Thankfully, she'll return to screens at full hotness later this year in The Town, a hard-ass-Boston-bros thriller starring Jon Hamm and scripted, directed by, and co-starring Ben Affleck (of course); Hall's the sultry bank manager who gets entangled in a heist. We have a feeling she'll steal that one, too. Even if Ben and Jon go gay.
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