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On the Cover: Greta Gerwig
"Acting is such a weird thing to talk about," Greta Gerwig says, with a sheepish laugh. "I feel like all the language to describe acting makes you sound like an asshole." A few years ago, she was a liberal arts graduate terrified about her future; now, partly on the strength of not being an asshole, she's the Next Big Thing. At 29, Gerwig played lead and muse for independent filmmakers such as Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) and Whit Stillman (Damsels in Distress), and she moves easily between such auteur cinema and big-budget rom-coms (Arthur, No Strings Attached). Her burgeoning stardom is a contradiction: she's becoming famous because she's as warm, thoughtful, and understated—as real—onscreen as she is in person. Unlike other doe-eyed indie starlets whose quirk can feel cloying, hers isn't forced. She lives her characters from the inside out.
“Ms. Gerwig, most likely without intending to be anything of the kind, may well be the definitive screen actress of her generation,” wrote New York Times film critic A.O. Scott in an oft-cited review of Greenberg, her 2010 breakthrough role. “She seems to be embarked on a project, however piecemeal and modestly scaled, of redefining just what it is we talk about when we talk about acting.” Soon after that review appeared, Stillman gave her the leading role in his long-awaited Damsels in Distress. Now she has what many actors spend their entire careers pining for: creative control. Baumbach asked Gerwig to write his next film with him and not only does she get a co-writer credit, but she’s also the star: the titular character in Frances Ha (out this month) is all about her, and Gerwig completely carries the film.