14 October 1989 |
Canberra, ACT, Australia
Mia Wasikowska (// VAH-shee-KOF-skə; born 14 October 1989) is an Australian actress. After starting her acting career in Australian television and film, she first became known to a wider audience following her critically acclaimed work on the HBO television series In Treatment. She gained worldwide prominence in 2010 after starring as Alice in Tim Burton's $1 billion-grossing Alice in Wonderland and appearing in The Kids Are All Right, for which she received the Hollywood Awards' Breakthrough Actress Award.
In 2011, Wasikowska portrayed the title character in Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Jane Eyre, and starred in Gus Van Sant's Restless and Rodrigo Garcia's Albert Nobbs. She also starred in John Hillcoat's Lawless (2012) and in Park Chan-wook's Stoker (2013).
Wasikowska was born and brought up in Canberra, Australia, and is the middle child of three, with an older sister, Jess and a younger brother, Kai. Her mother, Marzena Wasikowska, is a Polish-born photographer, while her father, John Reid, is an Australian photographer and collagist. In 1998, when she was eight years old, Wasikowska and her family moved to Szczecin, Poland, for a year, after her mother had received a grant to produce a collection of work based on her own experience of having emigrated to Australia in 1974, at the age of eleven. Wasikowska and her siblings took part in the production as subjects; she explained to Johanna Schneller of the Toronto Globe and Mail in July 2010, "We never had to smile or perform. We weren't always conscious of being photographed. We'd just do our thing, and she'd take pictures of us."
Wasikowska began training as a ballerina at the age of nine, with hopes of going professional. She began dancing en pointe at thirteen, and was training 35 hours a week in addition to attending school full-time, her daily routine consisting of leaving school in the early afternoon and dancing until nine o'clock at night. A spur on her heel hampered her dancing. Her passion for ballet also waned due to the increasing pressure to achieve physical perfection and her growing dissatisfaction with the industry in general, and she quit at fourteen. However, she credits ballet with improving her ability to handle her nerves in auditions.
At the same time, she had been exposed to European and Australian cinema at an early age, particularly Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy and Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career. Although she was shy and averse to performing during her school years, she became inspired to break into acting after watching Holly Hunter in The Piano and Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence, in addition to the opportunity of exploring imperfections in film. Despite having no prior acting experience, Wasikowska looked up twelve Australian talent agencies on the Internet and contacted them all, receiving only one response; she successfully arranged a meeting following persistent callbacks.
Wasikowska landed her first acting role in 2004, with a two-episode stint on the Australian soap All Saints. She had just turned fifteen when she was cast in her Australian film debut, 2006's Suburban Mayhem, for which she received a nomination for a Young Actor's AFI Award. That same year, she also appeared in her first short film, Lens Love Story, in which she had no dialogue.
In 2007, Wasikowska appeared in the crocodile horror film Rogue, alongside Radha Mitchell and Sam Worthington. She observed quietly on the set – fellow actor Stephen Curry noted, "We didn't hear a peep out of her for three weeks, which earned her the nickname of 'Rowdy'."  She beat out nearly 200 other actresses for a part in the drama September, being cast on the spot by director Peter Carstairs following her audition. She then starred in Spencer Susser's acclaimed short film I Love Sarah Jane, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
At the age of seventeen, Wasikowska received her first big break role in the United States when she was cast as Sophie, a suicidal gymnast, in HBO's acclaimed weekly drama In Treatment, after she auditioned for the role by videotape. The part required her to leave school in Canberra and move to Los Angeles for three months, while enrolling in correspondence courses. She earned critical acclaim for her performance as the troubled teenager treated by psychotherapist Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne), which included praise for her excellent American accent. Wasikowska revealed in an October 2008 interview with Variety that she was something of a mimic as a child and that the large influx of American films and TV shows made it easier for Australians to pick up the accent.
The exposure from the show led to Wasikowska picking up her first American film appearances. She played the role of Chaya, the young wife of Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell), in Defiance. Director Edward Zwick cast her without having seen her in In Treatment, explaining to the Australian edition of Vogue, "Her inner life is so vivid that it comes across even when she's being still." Her next role was that of aviation pioneer Elinor Smith in Mira Nair's 2009 biopic Amelia. In June 2008, due to her work on In Treatment, she was a recipient of an Australians in Film Breakthrough Award.
Wasikowska played the supporting role of Pamela Choat in the 2009 Southern Gothic independent film That Evening Sun, opposite Hal Holbrook. Director Scott Teems, seeking a young actress who bore a resemblance to Sissy Spacek, initially balked at the casting director's first suggestion of Wasikowska for the role, as he was adamant at casting all native Southerners for the sake of authenticity. However, after auditions with other actresses were unsuccessful, Teems relented and summoned Wasikowska for auditioning. She had only two hours to prepare, which she spent watching clips of Coal Miner's Daughter online in order to quickly learn a Southern accent, and impressed Teems enough that she gained the distinction of being the only non-American actor cast in the film. She was nominated for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, which she lost to Mo'Nique (Precious), though the film received a South by Southwest award for Best Ensemble Cast.
In July 2008, after a lengthy search, Wasikowska was cast as the eponymous heroine in Tim Burton's retelling of Alice in Wonderland, alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway. She sent a videotaped audition to casting directors in London, and her first live reading in Los Angeles occurred on the same day as her Evening Sun audition. After three more auditions in London – which saw her flying back and forth from Australia to England in just as many weeks – she was awarded the role. Burton cited Wasikowska's "old-soul quality" as a catalyst in casting her: "Because you’re witnessing this whole thing through her eyes, it needed somebody who can subtly portray that." Wasikowska portrayed a nineteen-year-old Alice visiting Wonderland for the first time after fleeing from an unwanted marriage proposal. Her affinity for the character played a part in her desire for the role, as she had read the Lewis Carroll books as a child and was a fan of Jan Švankmajer's 1988 stop-motion film Alice. She also saw Burton's version of the classic story as a chance to explore a deeper characterization of Alice, to whom she felt young women her age could relate, for which she drew on personal experiences. "Alice has a certain discomfort within herself, within society and among her peers; I [...] have definitely felt similarly about all of those things, so I could really understand her not fitting in. Alice also [is] an observer who is thinking a lot, and that's similar to how I am."
For Lisa Cholodenko's indie comedy The Kids Are All Right, Wasikowska was cast as Joni, the bookish daughter of a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who was conceived via artificial insemination. At her younger brother's (Josh Hutcherson) request, she seeks out their biological father (Mark Ruffalo). During shooting, she successfully campaigned to have Joni wear pajamas in several home scenes, as a nod to what the actress herself regularly did while home in Australia. She explained to Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore, "[Joni's] very comfortable in her place, with who she is. So I pushed to have her, whenever she was at home, in her pajamas. That’s comfortable! And that’s something I do."
On 25 October, Wasikowska was honored with the Hollywood Awards' Breakthrough Actress Award, which was presented to her by Bryce Dallas Howard, and she won the Australian Film Institute International Award for Best Actress on 12 December for her performance in  According to Forbes, Alice in Wonderland was amongst the highest-grossing films of 2010 with $1.03 billion. As of October 2013, it is the fifteenth highest-grossing film of all time.
From March to May 2010, Wasikowska filmed Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which she starred as the title character opposite Michael Fassbender as Mr. Rochester. She began reading the novel after completion of Alice in Wonderland, during which she asked her agent if a script existed. Two months later, she received a script and was asked to meet with Fukunaga. However, since Fukunaga was unfamiliar with her prior work at the time and was therefore undecided about casting her, he later sought the opinion of director Gus Van Sant, with whom Wasikowska had previously filmed the 2011 release Restless. He said to BlackBook magazine in February 2011, "Gus wrote back: 'Cast her.'" Her work on the film resulted in a scheduling conflict that forced her to withdraw from the lead in Julia Leigh's 2011 Australian independent film Sleeping Beauty, and she was replaced by Emily Browning. Meryl Streep in her 2012 Golden Globe acceptance speech, announced: "How about Mia Wasikowska in Jane Eyre?"
Wasikowska turned down a part in Robert Redford's 2011 film The Conspirator in order to play the female lead in Restless, which she filmed from November to December 2009. The portrayal of her character, a terminally ill sixteen-year-old, required her to crop her long hair. Though she was one of many names shortlisted for consideration in casting the role of Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, she declined to audition for the part due to the time commitment involved with the production. From December 2010 to February 2011, Wasikowska filmed Rodrigo Garcia's Albert Nobbs, for which she was a last-minute replacement for Amanda Seyfried.
On 21 April 2011, Wasikowska was named to the Time 100, a listing of the world's most influential people, which featured a brief essay written by Albert Nobbs co-star Glenn Close. In June, Wasikowska was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In December, she was among a group of actors who filmed a series of shorts from The New York Times titled Touch of Evil, which honored the art of cinematic villainy.
In 2011, Wasikowska shot the small supporting role of Shia LaBeouf's character's love interest in John Hillcoat's Lawless. Later in the year, she filmed the lead in Park Chan-wook's English-language debut, Stoker, from 31 August to 23 October. Lawless premiered at Cannes in May 2012, while Stoker debuted at Sundance in January 2013. Wasikowska appeared in Miu Miu's spring 2012 fashion campaign. In 2012, she made her second appearance in a Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue, this time on the front panel.
Filming of her next project, Richard Ayoade's The Double, began in the UK in May 2012. In July, she shot Jim Jarmusch's vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive, in which she plays the younger sister of Tilda Swinton's character. Filming of Tracks, director John Curran's adaptation of the Robyn Davidson memoir of the same name, began in October 2012 in Australia, with Wasikowska in the lead role. The film was screened in competition at the 2013 Venice Film Festival.
Wasikowska made her directorial debut on a segment of a film adaptation of The Turning, a collection of short stories by Australian author Tim Winton. The film premiered in August 2013 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In July 2013, Wasikowska began filming David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars in Toronto. She will play the title role in Sophie Barthes' film adaptation of Madame Bovary, which began shooting on 30 September in Normandy, France.
In 2013, Wasikowska replaced Emma Stone in the upcoming horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro titled Crimson Peak. She will appear alongside Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. The film is set to start shooting in February 2014 with an April 2015 release date.
She will reprise the role of Alice in the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, which is scheduled to be released in May 2016.
In her spare time, Wasikowska is an avid photographer, often chronicling her travels and capturing images of her film sets with a Rolleiflex camera. During production of Jane Eyre, she had a secret pocket sewn into one of her costumes in order to conceal a smaller digital camera that she used between takes. One of her on-set images, featuring Fukunaga and Jane Eyre costar Jamie Bell, was selected as a finalist in the 2011 National Photographic Portrait Prize hosted by Australia's National Portrait Gallery on 24 February 2011.
|2007||Lens Love Story||Girl||Short film|
|2008||I Love Sarah Jane||Sarah Jane||Short film|
|2008||Summer Breaks||Kara||Short film|
|2009||That Evening Sun||Pamela Choat|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Alice Kingsleigh|
|2010||Kids Are All Right, TheThe Kids Are All Right||Joni|
|2011||Jane Eyre||Jane Eyre|
|2011||Albert Nobbs||Helen Dawes|
Segment: Long, Clear View
|2013||Only Lovers Left Alive||Ava|
|2013||Double, TheThe Double||Hannah|
|2014||Maps to the Stars||Agatha Weiss||Post-production|
|2014||Madame Bovary||Emma Bovary||Post-production|
|2015||Crimson Peak||Edith Cushing||Filming|
|2004–05||All Saints||Lily Watson||Episode: "Out on a Limb" and "Sins of the Mothers"|
|2008||In Treatment||Sophie||Regular role (9 episodes)|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Alice Kingsleigh (voice)|
Awards and nominations
|2006||Australian Film Institute||Young Actor's Award||Suburban Mayhem||Nominated|
|2009||Australian Film Institute||AFI International Award - Best Actress||In Treatment||Nominated|
|2009||SXSW Film Festival||Special Jury Award - Best Ensemble Cast||That Evening Sun||Won|
|2010||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Supporting Female||That Evening Sun||Nominated|
|2010||Hollywood Film Festival||Hollywood Breakthrough Award - Actress of the Year||Won|
|2010||Hollywood Film Festival||Hollywood Breakthrough Award - Actress of the Year||Won|
|2010||Australian Film Institute||AFI International Award - Best Actress||Alice in Wonderland||Won|
|2010||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Fight||Alice in Wonderland||Won|
|2010||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy||Alice in Wonderland||Nominated|
|2010||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Breakout Female||Alice in Wonderland||Nominated|
|2010||Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2010||Gotham Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2010||Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Acting Ensemble||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2010||Detroit Film Critics Society Awards||Best Breakthrough Performance||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2010||Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards||Best Ensemble Acting||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2011||Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Critics Choice Award - Best Acting Ensemble||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2011||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2011||Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2011||Chlotrudis Awards||Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast||The Kids Are All Right||Won|
|2011||Empire Awards||Best Newcomer||Alice in Wonderland||Nominated|
|2011||British Independent Film Awards||Best Actress||Jane Eyre||Nominated|
|2012||Australian Film Institute||AACTA International Award - Best Actress||Jane Eyre||Nominated|
|2013||British Independent Film Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Double||Nominated|
|2013||AACTA Awards||Best Adapted Screenplay||The Turning||Nominated|
|2013||AACTA Awards||Best Direction||The Turning||Nominated|
|2014||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Actress||Stoker||Nominated|
|2014||Saturn Awards||Best Actress||Stoker||Nominated|
|2014||Empire Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Stoker||Pending|
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