Winner: Mia Wasikowska. She was in Alice in Wonderland, which made a kajillion dollars, and gave nice performance in the indie hit The Kids Are All Right. Her name is now mentioned in connection to every hot role that crops up.
It's true if you squint your eyes a little, Wasikowska does look strikingly like Claire Danes (especially since her once long "Alice in Wonderland" tresses have been newly shorn into a rakish, blonde-streaked bob) circa the "My So-Called Life" years, and the career comparisons don't necessarily stop there.
Both made a name for themselves initially by playing distraught teenagers. Ms. Danes in the aforementioned "Life" and Ms. Wasikowska (pronounced "vash-ee-KOV-ska") in the Oscar-nominated "The Kids Are All Right." Both then took that celebrity and broke out of high-school roles by taking on projects of significant literary weight. Though it must be said, the difference between Baz Luhrmann's frenzied, A.D.D. version of "Romeo + Juliet" and Cary Fukunaga's elegant, thoughtful "Jane Eyre" is like the distinction between a high-school AP English class and a graduate-level seminar in college.
The affecting Aussie actress, 21, very much wanted to do a version of "Jane Eyre" from the minute she read the Charlotte Bronte novel a couple of years ago. " I think I was on the fifth chapter," she says, "when I e-mailed my agent and I was like — this is fantastic, is there a script around or a project being made?"
Lo and behold a month later, her agent caught wind of a new production, helmed by former DP-turned-director, Cary Fukunaga, who was just then trying to track down his perfect Jane. It didn't take him long to recognize in Wasikowska a crucially important quality: " I felt [she] had all that inner turmoil that Jane had in the book," he explains. "And someone who could communicate it in a way that didn't feel theatrical, but that felt real and subtle."
Now it's just up to Wasikowska to follow Danes from "it-girl" to serious actress. Not that anyone should worry - one could easily read a suitable young actress mantra in Wasikowska's thoughts on Jane Eyre's sense of self-worth:
"As much as she puts herself through the ringer, she feels that inevitably at the end, she's going to have more respect for herself if she does things the way she thinks is right by herself."