Mia Wasikowska born 14 October 1989) is an Australian actress. After starting her 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. In 2012, she appeared in John Hillcoat's Lawless and appeared in Park Chan-wook's Stoker.
Wasikowska was born and raised 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 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 going to 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 Colors 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 Google 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, and the drama September, for which she beat out nearly 200 other actresses by receiving her part 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 break 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 part 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 part, 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 returning to Wonderland for the first time since her youth after escaping 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 regularly did herself 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 Alice in Wonderland. She was recognized by Forbes as one of the highest-grossing actors of 2010 with $1.03 billion, tied for second position with Johnny Depp and behind leader Leonardo DiCaprio, whose films grossed $1.1 billion for the year.
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 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 2011, Wasikowska was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In December 2011, she appeared in The New York Times' short film on cinematic villainy, Touch of Evil.
In 2011, Wasikowska shot a supporting role in John Hillcoat's Prohibition-era drama Lawless as the love interest of star Shia LaBeouf's character; production wrapped in April 2011. Later in the year, she filmed the lead in Park Chan-wook's English-language debut, Stoker, from 31 August to 23 October. Lawless was released in 2012 while Stoker will premiere in 2013.
Filming of her next project, Richard Ayoade's The Double, began in the U.K. in May 2012. In July, she began filming Jim Jarmusch's vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive. Filming of Tracks, director John Curran's adaptation of Australian author Robyn Davidson's novel of the same name, began in October 2012 in Australia, with Wasikowska in the lead role.
Wasikowska's other upcoming projects include Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt, opposite Cate Blanchett (set to shoot in February 2013 in London and New York), and Sophie Barthes' film adaptation of Madame Bovary, in which she plays the title character alongside Ezra Miller. Bovary may begin production in spring 2012 in Europe. Wasikowska will make her directorial debut on a segment of a film adaptation of The Turning, a collection of short stories by Australian author Tim Winton.
Wasikowska appears 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.
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.
Wasikowska continues to make her home in Canberra with her family between projects. When asked by PopEater in March 2011 if she was treated like a celebrity at home, she replied, "No, I still take the rubbish out and empty the dishwasher. It's good going back for that reason."
Year Title Role Notes
2006 Suburban Mayhem Lilya Nominated—Australian Film Institute – Young Actor Award
Lens Love Story Girl Short film
Eve Eve Short film
2007 Skin Emma Short film
Cosette Cosette Short film
September Amelia Hamilton
2008 Defiance Chaya
I Love Sarah Jane Sarah Jane Short film
Summer Breaks Kara Short film
2009 Amelia Elinor Smith
That Evening Sun Pamela Choat South by Southwest Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
2010 Alice in Wonderland Alice Kingsleigh Hollywood Film Festival Award for Best Breakthrough Actress (also for The Kids Are All Right)
Australian Film Institute International Award for Best Actress
Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Fight
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Breakout Female
Nominated—Scream Award for Best Fantasy Actress
Nominated—Scream Award for Best Breakout Female
Nominated—Empire Award for Best Newcomer
The Kids Are All Right Joni Hollywood Film Festival Award for Best Breakthrough Actress (also for Alice in Wonderland)
Chlotrudis Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble
2011 Jane Eyre Jane Eyre Nominated—AACTA International Award for Best Actress
Nominated—BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Restless Annabel Cotton
Albert Nobbs Helen Dawes
2012 Lawless Bertha Minnix
2013 Stoker India Stoker
The Double Hannah
Only Lovers Left Alive Ava Post-production
Tracks Robyn Davidson Post-production
Year Title Role Notes
2004 All Saints Lily Watson Episodes: "Out on a Limb" and "Sins of the Mothers"
2008 In Treatment Sophie 9 episodes
2008 Australians in Film – Best Breakthrough Award
Nominated—Australian Film Institute International Award for Best Actress
Year Title Role Notes
2010 Alice in Wonderland Alice Voice role
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