Little Women

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

Scorsese, not Disney, is the watchword for these adolescent actresses. Simon Dumenco finds the soul of a Streep in Chloë Grace Moretz, while Tony Dokoupil meets the rest of tomorrow’s leading ladies.

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

“It doesn’t matter the age,” says director Martin Scorsese of the 13-year-old Moretz. “She is an actor, above all. And a very, very good one.”

DKNY’s crepe de chine T-shirt.

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

“Math was so much easier in eighth grade,” says Breslin, who, at 14, is both struggling through Algebra 1 and serving as the unofficial grande dame of adolescent actresses. Since her breakout role in 2002’s Signs, the New York native has appeared in more than a dozen films. She received an Oscar nomination for her supporting role as a stripteasing beauty contestant in Little Miss Sunshine, shot at the undead in Zombieland, and, most recently, landed her first singing role in Janie Jones, about a girl who reunites with her rock-star father, played by Alessandro Nivola. Despite her sizable filmography, “we try to keep things normal,” promises her mother, Kim Breslin, one of whose two sons, Spencer, is also an actor. “That means waiting in line for 35 minutes at Whole Foods, where no one cares if you’ve made a movie.”

Breslin wears Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti’s stretch cotton poplin dress.

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

“It’s about getting things done,” says Peltz, star of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, explaining her BlackBerry addiction. The 16-year-old actress harbors more age-appropriate passions too: “The beach,” she admits, “is, like, my favorite place.” But in recent years she has traded R&R for scripts and sets. Shyamalan personally cast her as the female lead in his sci-fi fantasy, later saying he wouldn’t have done the film without her. Now she’s slated to appear alongside Campbell Scott in the upcoming indie drama Eye of the Hurricane. “I like scripts that are character-driven,” says the young star, whose father is Nelson Peltz, a legendary corporate raider and one of America’s richest men. “That’s really appealing to me.”

Peltz wears D&G’s silk chiffon blouse and Dolce & Gabbana’s cotton tank top.

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

Fourteen-year-old Steinfeld is perhaps the first actress to leap from back-to-school commercials to a Coen brothers film in a matter of months. “If you’re on YouTube, just type in ‘Kmart’ and ‘blingatude,’” she says of the ad for Kmart that constitutes virtually the only screen time she’d scored before landing the role of Mattie Ross in the Coens’ remake of True Grit. Steinfeld studied the original movie, adopting a frontier accent and walking into the audition with her hair in a loose bun, wearing black boots and a corduroy skirt. Now she’s mulling her next move and reading prospective scripts in her room, which could actually pass for normal (pink walls, pink “blankie” on the bed)— were it not for the photos of Steinfeld with Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, and Josh Brolin, her True Grit costars.

Steinfeld wears Diane von Furstenberg’s silk dress.

Photograph: Rineke Dijkstra

“Filming is a very adult world, and you need to be with people your own age,” says the British-born Henley of her decision to attend high school, which she deems “very important for social skills.” Henley, who plays Lucy Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia movies, also headlined a BBC production of Jane Eyre and “quite liked the pressure of having fewer takes and really having to perform, whereas on Narnia there’s no real limit because of the budget.” The 15-year-old keeps things humble at home too: Her most treasured possession isn’t a bust of Aslan the lion but a picture of British Claymation characters Wallace and Gromit that creator Nick Park drew for her at Britain’s Empire Movie Awards. “I was speechless,” she says.

Henley wears Diesel Black Gold’s viscose T-shirt.