Why She's On Our Radar: With her tight blonde curls and the stark contrast between her skin tone and her bold lipstick, it's impossible to ignore Julia Garner's presence in a room. The high school senior had a small role in last year's Sundance breakout "Martha Marcy May Marlene," but her first starring role in Rebecca Thomas's "Electrick Children" has many heads turning.
The film, which premiered at Berlin and played at this week's SXSW, follows Rachel (Garner), a member of a Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound, who is experiencing a case of immaculate conception. Without having sex, Rachel has become pregnant. She suspects she was impregnated by a song she found on a casette tape. She sets out on a quest — making it to Las Vegas, where she meets a nice young boy in a band (Rory Culkin) who helps her get to the bottom of her mystery.
What's Next: Julia's got roles in Stephen Chbosky's adaptation of his own novel, the Generation X classic "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," and Leah Meyerhoff's "Unicorns" (where she will star alongside Joshua Leonard and Amy Seimetz). In the pipeline, she's also snagged a role in the "The Last Exorcism" sequel — all before graduating high school.
How did you find out about the project?
I auditioned on Monday and by Wednesday I got the job. And by Sunday I was already on the plane to start shooting. I just thought it was such a cool story. I really liked it.
When was that?
It was September, early September.
This is your first lead role. It's a really quick turn around to be cast and then shooting in September, premiering in Berlin in February and now here at SXSW. How does all of this feel?
It feels good, I guess. I don't think about it too much.
You don't have much time to think about it.
I know, really. I also just try not to.
You're also still going to school. How is it juggling everything?
For my senior year, I'm home schooled. It's working well with the acting. Juggling school with the acting is hard, but you know, what can you do?
How was it being on set?
It was nice because it was such a safe environment on set. Rebecca knows what she wants and you can completely trust her. She knows exactly what she wants. And you can completely trust her.
I learned a lot on the set. I think that we work well together. In certain ways, we think kind of the same.
Why is this story important to tell?
'Cuz I love it. I love this story, and I want to share it with people. When I first read it, I was like "What is this?" I was fascinated. I was like, "I want to audition for this!" It's a very unique and cool story, especially the marriage scene.
Rebecca speaks about being inspired by the FLDS community when she was writing the script, but the film is a lot about a character and all of the people she bumps into. Was there something about this character that intrigued you?
I liked that she had goals. She had to find out how she got pregnant. She was determined. I just thought that was really interesting, especially considering the background she came from. I like the story, that everyone in the movie is searching for something. Not only Rachel, but even Clyde. Everyone is searching for something, which people can relate to.
What's next on your plate?
I have a film that I'm going to be shooting next week in New Orleans, so I'm very excited about that.
And you have a film in post?
I have a couple of films being edited now.
So you're busy?
Um, yeah. (shrugs and giggles)
What do you think about how audiences are reacting?
I don't know, I just don't expect anything, to be honest with you.
Any reactions a good one, as long as they're not laughing at you.