“As a kid I wasn’t shy. I’m an extrovert who wants to be an introvert.” Lawrence’s lack of shyness has resulted in one of the boldest performances of 2010: her Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone. Like many actresses of her generation, Lawrence started young—at 14, she left her home in Louisville, Kentucky, and moved to New York. “I don’t know if I was driven or stubborn or both,” she explains. “But I didn’t think I could fail.”
“I was the girl who never thought I’d be anything but an actor, so what I’ve really had to struggle with is having patience.” Born in Northern California and a graduate of Juilliard, Chastain was cast by reclusive director Terrence Malick to star opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in The Tree of Life, in theaters this fall. He may have seen her performance in Salome, opposite Al Pacino, where she did the Dance of the Seven Veils. “My character’s goal was to give herself away,” Chastain says. “To be completely naked. So I went to some strip clubs in L.A. just to be, like, Okay, this is normal. There’s nothing taboo about it.”
“I want to do a silent film, even though it’s out of fashion now.” DaCosta, who studied dance as a child, has an innate stillness and elegance that would be ideal for the cinematic intensity of images without words. In 2009’s The Messenger she played an army wife who has lost her husband, and her grief went beyond speech. Similarly, when Mark Ruffalo tells her character in The Kids Are All Right that he wants to end their relationship, the shock and pain are registered in her eyes. “I grew up watching a lot of old stuff,” DaCosta says. “The first movie I remember seeing was The Red Balloon, which is silent, and it made me feel things that I’d love to make other people feel.”
“I always wanted to be an actress, and my first audition, when I was nine, was for Blow, playing Johnny Depp’s daughter. I think everyone in my family was shocked because they sent me on the audition to kind of shut me up about the acting thing.” Roberts, 19, has been acting in movies from that point forward, playing everything from Nancy Drew to an orphan who runs a hotel for dogs to a troubled teenager in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which is out September 24. Like her aunt Julia, Emma has an all-American sunniness mixed with an attraction to darker subjects. “I don’t know that I’d do a full-on nude scene, ever,” Roberts says. “I’ve never had a full-on sex scene…but we’ll see.”
“My first audition was for a commercial for the lottery. I didn’t get it, so I hate the lottery.” Since that rejection, Dennings, 24, has become an indie favorite—the smart, seductive, prickly downtown darling in such movies as Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Charlie Bartlett. Her curves and her attitude—bemused but sweet, self-aware but curious—set her apart from other young actresses. As a kid growing up near Philadelphia, “I wanted to be Christopher Walken,” Dennings says. “I saw a film version of Puss in Boots, and he was Puss. He had a mouse tail hanging out of his mouth, and he said ‘Growl’ as only Chris Walken can. That performance made me want to be an actor.”
Greta Gerwig (September 2010)
“I grew up in Sacramento, and it seemed like movies were handed down from gods.” Gerwig, who earlier this year starred opposite Ben Stiller in Greenberg, began her acting career as the leading lady of Mumblecore. The movement was born when a group of filmmakers met at the South by Southwest film festival in Austin, Texas, and decided to make movies together. The budgets were minuscule and the films largely improvised, but the acting was fresh and realistic and vibrant in the style of John Cassavetes. “A lot of Mumblecore was about awkwardness, especially with sex,” Gerwig says. “I think a lot of sex is very awkward. Instances of awkward lovemaking probably outpace instances of beautiful, seamless lovemaking, at least in my experience.”
“When I was young, I wanted to be able to read minds. I would try to do that with my dogs. It didn’t work.” With a mysterious quality that seems at once innocent and worldly, Kravitz, the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, has defied racial stereotypes. The script for The Brave One, in which Kravitz gave a startling performance, had called for a European-accented blond, but the actress’s audition demanded a total rethink. “I’m a pretty obnoxious person,” Kravitz says, “so I’ll make a sex scene as uncomfortable as I can just to break the ice.”
“I would love to know what it’s like to be blond, but every time I mention the possibility of going blond, people act like the world’s going to come to an end. I will say that having pink hair was really fun.” Winstead went pink (and blue and green and red) in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was released in August. A veteran of television, she was cast by Quentin Tarantino as a snappy, sexy actress in 2007’s Death Proof. “It was never explained why my character was in a cheerleader’s uniform for the entire film,” Winstead says. “But the outfit made it easy to get into character.”
Yaya DaCosta wears Ralph Lauren Collection’s cashmere and silk lace turtleneck. Jennifer Lawrence wears Maison Martin Margiela’s cashmere and wool jacket. Greta Gerwig wears The Row’s silk dress.
Kat Dennings wears Lewis Leathers’ leather jacket; Dolce & Gabbana’s silk and lace bodysuit. Jessica Chastain wears Bottega Veneta’s lambskin jacket; Eres’s silk and spandex bra.
Zoë Kravitz wears Yves Saint Laurent’s wool turtleneck. Emma Roberts wears Balmain’s sequined silk dress; New York Vintage necklace. Mary Elizabeth Winstead wears Giorgio Armani’s wool and viscose jacket.
Hair by Luigi Murenu for John Frieda; makeup by Peter Philips for Chanel; manicures by Deborah Lippmann at the Wall Group.