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Abbie Cornish: 'Bright Star' Breakout

The up-and-coming actress chats about Oscar talk and John Keats

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The Aussie actress appeared in A Good Year and Elizabeth: The Golden Age before starring in Kimberly Peirce’s 2008 Iraq-war drama Stop-Loss, where she met boyfriend Ryan Phillippe. Now the 27-year-old is generating Oscar talk for Jane Campion’s Bright Star, in which she plays Fanny Brawne, the great love of 19th-century Romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw). ”I’ve never dealt with [Oscar buzz] before — that’s for sure!” she laughs. ”But we all put a piece of our hearts in this movie, so it’s exciting that people like it enough to say that.”

Brawne and Keats’ passionate, tragic romance (they didn’t consummate their relationship before he died of tuberculosis in 1821 at age 25) hooked Cornish from page 1. ”Their love — how intense it was and the purity of it — was enough to make me feel like I had to do this movie,” says Cornish. ”And I loved how dynamic Fanny was, rather than her just being this beautiful presence that makes the poet swoon.”

Cornish is now shooting Zack Snyder’s action flick Sucker Punch, playing one of five women trying to escape a psychiatric ward. ”My character is very strong, a real leader. She’s pretty cool.”