She launched her second career with the digital intrepidness of the millennial generation: “I Googled acting agencies.” After Wasikowska won small roles in Australian independent films, her agent began to send audition tapes to Hollywood, and the teenager landed a breakthrough with In Treatment, playing a suicidal gymnast. A similar long-distance screen test in February 2008 put her in the running for Alice.
“I didn’t hear anything for a number of months,” she recalls, adding that she never expected to be cast. “Then I went and did three more auditions with Tim, and I got the role. It was amazing.”
Wasikowska keeps herself occupied during lulls on set by snapping backstage photos with her mother’s old Rolleiflex camera, and she seems charmingly blasé about her proximity to Depp, recently named People’s Sexiest Man Alive for a second time. (“I’m surprised he beat Robert Pattinson,” she says teasingly. “It’s tough competition. Well done!”) Her next role will be another famous fictional heroine—Jane Eyre, in a remake by director Cary Fukunaga, who won a directing award at Sundance for 2009’s Sin Nombre.
Wasikowska says that between shoots she gets her reality check in Canberra, where her family and friends are interested, but not too interested, in her burgeoning career. “I love going home,” she says. “There I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, the world doesn’t revolve around moviemaking. People talk about other things.’”