Posted by · 3:24 pm · March 19th, 2010

Mia WasikowskaWhen I heard today that Mia Wasikowska had landed the lead in Cary Fukunaga’s upcoming adaptation of “Jane Eyre” for Focus Features, my first thought was, “Well, who else?”

Not that there aren’t other suitable young actresses who could ace the part. But 20 year-old Australian Wasikowska seems to have hit a sweet spot in the Hollywood casting game. A year ago, few who didn’t watch HBO’s “In Treatment” had heard of her; today, she seems to be nabbing every plum role going in her age bracket.

Two years ago, Ellen Page’s name was linked to this latest dusting-off of the Charlotte Brontë chestnut; the eventual casting of Wasikowska suggests that even young Hollywood has its minute generational shifts.

Not that I’m complaining about Wasikowska’s sudden rise. I was as impressed as everyone else by her tangy work as a suicidal teen in “In Treatment,” and was pleased to see that promise completely followed through with a precise, perceptive turn as the daughter of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in Lisa Cholodenko’s deserved festival hit “The Kids Are All Right.”

I have yet to see her Spirit-nominated performance in the tiny indie “That Evening Sun,” but on the opposite end of the studio scale, I must give her respect for holding her own in Tim Burton’s lumbering “Alice in Wonderland,” even as the film falls apart around her. If that film’s commercial success sends her career skyward, it’s at least rewarding the right person. Meanwhile, she also has Gus Van Sant’s “Restless” on her docket.

As for “Jane Eyre,” I can’t say Wasikowska’s fair, willowy features are the closest match in my mind for Brontë’s heroine, previously incarnated on screen by the likes of Joan Fontaine and Charlotte Gainsbourg. (I admit I was excited by the earlier choice of Page.) But I’m interested to see what she does for the role — and it for her.

Wasikowska rounds out a well-nigh unimpeachable cast for the film, which begins shooting next week. As we mentioned in our interview with the actor in January, Michael Fassbender takes on the role of Mr. Rochester, while Sally Hawkins, Judi Dench and Jamie Bell are all also on board. If Fukunaga can bring some of the jagged, contemporary spirit of his debut “Sin Nombre” to the table, this should be one to watch.

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14 responses so far

  • 1 3-19-2010 at 4:14 pm

    Bryan said...

    If only the Gainsbourg/Hurt version hadn’t flown completely off the rails in the last 30 minutes…

    But this seems promising, and Wasikowska was perfectly fine in Alice, but it was Helena Bonham Carter who stole every scene she was in. What a character, what depth from so little. I won’t be surprised if she clings on to my favorite supporting actresses 2010 lineup as the year makes its turns.

  • 2 3-19-2010 at 4:20 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Wow, we are SO not on the same page when it comes to Bonham-Carter. But, well, interesting.

  • 3 3-19-2010 at 8:03 pm

    Jim T said...

    1) I am very happy Dench still has work besides Bond, even though I’d prefer leading roles.

    2)I have to read this book. And her sister’s one. But first, finish Moby Dick. In this life!

  • 4 3-19-2010 at 10:10 pm

    Mickche said...

    Just noting that Wasikowska dropped out of Sleeping Beauty for this (role with eventually went to Emily Browning)

  • 5 3-20-2010 at 7:53 am

    Bryan said...

    I thought that Bonham Carter, midst all the cliche and brou ha ha, managed to create a character that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. She’s an immature brat, but you fill her pain and jealousy and can guess that she was the less-loved child (and not just because she’s the bad one).

    This from Manohla Darghis sums it up: “Ms. Bonham Carter makes you hear the petulant child in her barbarism and the wounded woman too. “

  • 6 3-20-2010 at 1:24 pm

    Patrick said...

    There’s quite a strong current of opinion AGAINST Mia’s performance in Alice though, isn’t there? Wooden is the most common phrase.

  • 7 3-20-2010 at 7:12 pm

    Michael B. said...

    Let’s steer away from Bonham Carter to Mia.

    Though her performance in Alice wasn’t that great, her work on In Treatment was the best. I don’t know how, or why, she wasn’t nominated for an Emmy or Golden Globe but she deserved to take both of those awards home.

    I have a feeling that Mia, Saoirse Ronan and Dakota Fanning are the three child/teen stars that actually have a future in the business, only because they are immensely talented.

    And Mia’s role as Jane Eyre plus Alice and the Van Sant movie will put her on the map with almost everyone.

  • 8 3-20-2010 at 10:41 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Patrick: You’re probably right. I thought she was perfectly adequate in the film, but I hated everything around her so much that my perspective might have been skewed.

  • 9 3-21-2010 at 5:59 pm

    Puchika said...

    I’m looking forward to Jane Eyre. Fukunaga did a great job with “Sin Nombre”–I hope Marcelo Zarvos does the music again, as well as Adriano Goldman as DP

  • 10 3-21-2010 at 11:43 pm

    M said...

    I like Mia, haven’t seen her films, but she does seem talented, and I do want to see The Kids are Allright.

    She does seem to have a bright future.

  • 11 3-22-2010 at 2:21 pm

    Danielle said...

    I’m excited that they finally cast a Jane Eyre with the right age! And I don’t think they’ll have a problem making her look plain – I just hope they die her hair dark brown.

  • 12 3-23-2010 at 11:53 am

    Bill said...

    As superficial as it is, her cumbersome surname will be a large roadblock on her path to superstardom.

  • 13 3-23-2010 at 1:13 pm

    JR said...

    Michael B is spot-on. I’ve only seen Wiakowska in In Treatment and Defiance (in which she’d very little to do). On Not-TV-HBO, she exhibited incredible poise and maturity. The final episode in her arc was amazing, leaving me in tears (with is hard to do).