In ''Reaching for the Moon,'' Otto takes on what she calls the ''incredibly brave and uncompromised life'' of poet Elizabeth Bishop

November 15, 2013 at 05:00 AM EST

The Actress
The Australian native, 45, is best known as bold Éowyn in the Lord of the Rings films.

The Role
Bishop, as she falls into a liberating but bumpy love affair with a female architect in 1950s Brazil.

The Challenges
To capture Bishop’s speech, Otto listened to tapes: “Early on, her voice sounded much thinner and higher.” To portray alcoholism, she resisted one-note shtick: “There’s a period [while drinking] when you’re drunk and clever. Then there’s a period when you’re depressed and bottomed-out.” To internalize the poems? “I tried to work on one every day and get to the bottom of it.”

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