25 October 1989
Mia Wasikowska (// VUSH-i-KOF-skə; born 25 October 1989) is an Australian actress. She made her screen debut on the Australian television drama All Saints in 2004, followed by her feature film debut in Suburban Mayhem (2006). She first became known to a wider audience following her critically acclaimed work on the HBO television series In Treatment. She was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female for That Evening Sun (2009).
Wasikowska gained worldwide recognition in 2010 after starring as Alice in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and appearing in the comedy-drama film The Kids Are All Right, a role for which she received the Hollywood Film Festival Award for Breakthrough Actress. She starred in Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre (2011), and Crimson Peak (2015), directed by Guillermo del Toro. The following year, she reprised her role as Alice in the fantasy film Alice Through the Looking Glass, and has since appeared in a number of independent films.
Wasikowska was born and raised in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. She attended Cook Primary School, Ainslie Primary School and Canberra High School, and Karabar High School in Queanbeyan, which neighbours Canberra. She has 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 received a grant to produce a collection of work based on her own experience of emigrating from Poland to Australia in 1974 at the age of 11. Wasikowska and her siblings took part in the production as subjects; she explained to Johanna Schneller of The 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."
At the age of nine, Wasikowska began studying ballet with Jackie Hallahan at the Canberra Dance Development Centre, 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 consisted 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 that world in general, and she quit at 14. 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, and was particularly moved by Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy and Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career. Although shy and averse to performing during her school years, She was inspired to try to break into acting after seeing Holly Hunter in The Piano and Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. She felt acting in film was a way to explore human imperfections. She looked up 12 Australian talent agencies on the Internet and contacted them all, but received only one response. Despite her lack of acting experience, she arranged a meeting after 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 15 when she was cast in her Australian film debut, Suburban Mayhem (2006), for which she was nominated for a Young Actor's AFI Award. That 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 nearly 200 other actresses for a part in the drama September (2007) when she was cast on the spot by director Peter Carstairs following her audition. She starred in Spencer Susser's acclaimed short film I Love Sarah Jane, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
2008–2009: Career beginnings
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; 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 American accent. She revealed in an October 2008 interview with Variety that she was something of a mimic as a child, and that the widely available American films and TV shows in Australia made it easier for Australians to learn to speak like Americans.
This show enabled Wasikowska to gain roles in American films. She played Chaya, the young wife of Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell) in Defiance (2008). Director Edward Zwick cast her, 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 as aviation pioneer Elinor Smith in Mira Nair's 2009 biopic Amelia. In June 2008, for her work on In Treatment, she received 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 suggestion of Wasikowska for the role. He wanted to cast all native Southerners for the sake of authenticity. However, after auditions with other actresses were unsuccessful, Teems relented and summoned Wasikowska for as audition. During the two hours she had to prepare, she watched Coal Miner's Daughter online to quickly learn a Southern accent, and impressed Teems enough to be the only non-American actor in the film. She was nominated for a 2009 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female, and the film received a South by Southwest award for Best Ensemble Cast.
2010–2011: Breakthrough and critical acclaim
In July 2008, Wasikowska was cast as the eponymous heroine in Tim Burton's version 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, she was given the role. Burton cited her "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 returning to Wonderland for the first time in over a decade 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 considered Burton's film as a chance to explore a deeper characterisation of Alice, to whom she felt young women her age could relate, saying: "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. 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 Alice in Wonderland. According to Forbes, Alice in Wonderland was amongst the highest-grossing films of 2010 with $1.025 billion. As of June 2018, it is the 31st-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 Fukunaga was unfamiliar with her work and was undecided about casting her, so he sought the opinion of director Gus Van Sant, who had worked with Wasikowska on his 2011 film Restless. Fukunga told BlackBook magazine in February 2011, "Gus wrote back: 'Cast her.'" Due to a scheduling conflict, she had to withdraw from the lead in Julia Leigh's 2011 Australian independent film Sleeping Beauty, and she was replaced by Emily Browning.
Wasikowska appeared in Restless (2011), which was filmed from November to December 2009. The portrayal of her character, a terminally ill sixteen-year-old, required her to crop her long hair. From December 2010 to February 2011, Wasikowska filmed Rodrigo García'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.
2012–present: Continued success
In 2011, Wasikowska played 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. Lawless premiered at Cannes in May 2012, while Stoker debuted at Sundance in January 2013. Wasikowska also appeared in Miu Miu's spring 2012 fashion campaign. In 2012, she made her second appearance in a Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue, this time being featured on the cover 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. It premiered in August 2013 at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In July 2013, she began filming David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars in Toronto; it was released in 2014. She played the title role in Sophie Barthes' film adaptation of Madame Bovary, which began shooting on 30 September, 2014 in Normandy, France.
Wasikowska replaced Emma Stone in the 2015 gothic romance Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo del Toro, where she starred alongside Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. Production commenced in February 2014, with a 16 October 2015 release date.
In May 2015, Wasikowska joined the cast of Cédric Jimenez's forthcoming historical thriller film titled The Man with the Iron Heart, based on the novel HHhH, starring alongside Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O'Connell and Jack Reynor. Principal photography began 14 September 2015 in Prague and Budapest, and ended on 1 February 2016.
Wasikowska reprised the role of Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass, the 2016 sequel to Alice in Wonderland. In 2018, she appeared in the David Zellner western Damsel, alongside her Maps to the Stars co-star Robert Pattinson, and in the thriller Piercing, directed by Nicolas Pesce and based on Ryū Murakami's 1994 novel of the same name.
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 to conceal a digital camera that she used between takes. One of her on-set images, of Fukunaga and Jane Eyre co-star 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.
|Denotes productions that have not yet been released|
|2004–05||All Saints||Lily Watson||Episodes: "Out on a Limb" and "Sins of the Mothers"|
|2008||In Treatment||Sophie||Regular role (9 episodes)|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Alice Kingsleigh (voice)|
|2015||Disney Infinity 3.0|
Awards and nominations
|2008||Australian Film Institute||Young Actor's Award||Suburban Mayhem||Nominated|
|2009||AFI International Award for Best Actress||In Treatment||Nominated|
|SXSW Film Festival||Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast||That Evening Sun||Won|
|2010||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Supporting Female||Nominated|
|Australian Film Institute||AFI International Award for Best Actress||Alice in Wonderland||Won|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Fight||Won|
|Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy||Nominated|
|Choice Movie: Breakout Female||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Festival||Hollywood Breakthrough Award for Actress of the Year||The Kids Are All Right||Won|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Ensemble Cast||Nominated|
|Gotham Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||Nominated|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association||Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|
|Detroit Film Critics Society||Best Breakthrough Performance||Nominated|
|2011||Broadcast Film Critics Association||Critics Choice Award for Best Acting Ensemble||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Newcomer||Alice in Wonderland||Nominated|
|British Independent Film Awards||Best Actress||Jane Eyre||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||EDA Award for Most Outrageous Age Difference Between Two Lovers||Albert Nobbs||Won|
|2012||Australian Film Institute||AACTA International Award for Best Actress||Jane Eyre||Nominated|
|2013||British Independent Film Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Double||Nominated|
|AACTA Awards||Best Direction||The Turning||Nominated|
|2014||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Actress||Stoker||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Gotham Awards||Best Actress||Tracks||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2015||AACTA Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|Canadian Screen Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Maps to the Stars||Nominated|
|2016||Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Actress||Crimson Peak||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|2019||AACTA Award||Best Actress||Judy and Punch||Nominated|
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