An "It Girl" emerges at Toronto Film Festival

Tue Sep 14, 2010 5:30am EDT
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By Gregg Kilday

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Every film festival needs an "It Girl," and at Toronto this year that honor goes to British actress Andrea Riseborough, who has become almost ubiquitous on the red carpet with three movies on display.

And while It Girls sometimes come and go quickly, in this case, the one in question appears to have real substance.

Riseborough, 28, is no newcomer to the scene. A former member of the National Youth Theater, she studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and has shuttled among film, TV and stage roles nearly nonstop ever since: She played a young Margaret Thatcher on the British TV production "Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley," held her own onstage opposite Kenneth Branagh in Chekhov's "Ivanov," and popped up in Mike Leigh's 2008 film "Happy-Go-Lucky."

During the past year, the tempo has accelerated, so she's appearing in three films at the festival: Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go," in which she plays Chrissie, one-half of a couple that faces impending death; Nigel Cole's "Made in Dagenham," in which she plays Brenda, a sexually liberated factory worker; and Rowan Joffe's "Brighton Rock," in which she stars opposite Sam Riley as Rose, an innocent waitress who falls for a small-town crook.

The roles are so different -- Rose is starved for affection, and Brenda is an adventurous free spirit -- that audiences might find it difficult to get a fix on the rising star. But that's one reason why she has been so in demand.

"What Andrea has that many actresses of her generation do not have is a bona fide chameleon-like ability to be totally different from part to part," Joffe said.

Riseborough appears to be taking it all in stride. For the past year, she said, she's moved quickly from film to film, "but I always managed a little respite in between each one, so I was able to reset for the next character, which was nice."

She started out playing one of the doomed youth of "Never Let Me Go," a character she describes as "trapped; her whole life is about the preservation of someone else's life."   Continued...