Rose Byrne Goes to the Suburbs

The Aussie actress proves her comedic chops with Seth Rogen in Neighbors


Cocooned in an oatmeal-colored sweater, stabbing daintily at a grapefruit half at the Smile restaurant in New York, Rose Byrne bears little resemblance to the reformed party girl she plays in the new Seth Rogen comedy, Neighbors. But apparently the actress has a cultural precondition. “I think there’s a wild streak in Australians—we’re always the last ones in the bar,” says Byrne, who grew up in Balmain, a suburb of Sydney. Still, she’s quick to add that that’s all in her past. “I’m too much of a control freak now.”

The same could not be said of her character, Kelly, a new parent who with her husband, Mac (played by Rogen), is coming to grips with the tamer pleasures of domesticity. When a fraternity moves in next door, the couple takes up arms—and of course, this being a Rogen picture, there is plenty of prosthetic genitalia involved. “You’ve got to be up for anything,” says Byrne, who signed on for the remake of Annie, with Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx, out in December. It’s that attitude that won the 34-year-old actress this year’s Women in Film Max Mara Face of the Future Award. “It’s pretty good for someone like me, who’s the face of the lower-middle-age future,” she jokes. “It’s important to take the work seriously, but everything else that comes with it can be fleeting.”