I first became aware of Mia Wasikowska when I caught her in a great little indie Australian film called September. Marking the debut of filmmaker Peter Carstairs, the film is certainly one of the most beautiful that I've seen in quite some time. It's lush photography of the wind swept Australian countryside called to mind the work done by the likes of Néstor Almendros.
In it, Mia stars as the new girl in town whose sun kissed beauty plays a part in the unraveling friendship between the two boys at the center of the film. If the part sounds like a hoary cliche (which, I must admit, is true in theory), the ways in which she and Carstairs handle her role as the central impetus for the straw that breaks the camel's back manages to sidestep any weariness that might come from a motif that has been handled in so many other films before.
Carstairs praised her in an interview published by an Australian news site:
Mia is in an exceptional class as an actor. She is one of those gifted actors who doesn't appear to be doing anything. You just put a camera on her and she hardly moves, but is just so engaging.
I spoke previously about my love for this film here.
A few months after I saw September, I began to notice the name Mia Wasikowska popping up in quite a few places (remarkable considering the name's length). She starred in the eternally troubled Australian crocodile flick Rogue, co starring Michael Vartan and fellow up and coming Australian Sam Worthington, and was recently critically lauded for her work on the HBO series In Treatment, a role that required her to go toe to toe with Gabriel Byrne.
All of this is impressive, but what prompted this post are the three high profile projects she is attached to over the course of the next three years. This year sees the release of Defiance, Ed Zwick's World War 2 themed appeal to the Academy starring Daniel Craig. In 2009, Mia will appear as pilot and prodigy Elinor Smith in Mira Nair's Amelia Earhart biopic opposite Hilary Swank. Smith is known for a number of reasons, most notably for becoming the youngest woman to fly solo at age 15 and for becoming the youngest person to earn a pilot's license in the U.S. at age 16.
News came out this week that Tim Burton has chosen her to play Alice in his 2010 release of Alice in Wonderland, rumored to co star Johnny Depp (a safe bet considering recent history).
Now relocated to L.A., the 18-year-old actress ruminated on her recent success in the same article containing the praise from Carstairs:
It's all been a huge learning curve and really unexpected to be where I am at the moment. I want to just do my job and do it well
If history repeats itself, she will continue to do just that. Vanity Fair can tout Emma Roberts on the cover all it wants as the future of Hollywood, but I suspect that the future might just be with Mia Wasikowska.