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FUTURES: Analeigh Tipton, One of Whit Stillman's 'Damsels in Distress'

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire April 5, 2012 at 1:03PM

With her lead turn opposite Greta Gerwig in Whit Stillman's anticipated fourth feature "Damsels in Distress" (out this Friday), Tipton proves her breakout turn in "Crazy, Stupid, Love" was no fluke.
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Analeigh Tipton in "Damsels in Distress"
Sony Pictures Classics Analeigh Tipton in "Damsels in Distress"
Why She's On Our Radar: Doe-eyed Minnesota beauty Analeigh Tipton stole scenes as a teenager with a serious crush on Steve Carell in last year's hit romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." No mean feat, considering she shared the screen with Carell, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. With her lead turn opposite Greta Gerwig in Whit Stillman's anticipated fourth feature "Damsels in Distress" (out this Friday), Tipton proves her breakout turn in "Crazy" was no fluke.

In "Damsels," plays Lily, a new student at Seven Oaks, an East Coast college, who gets accepted into a clique of beautiful, dynamic girls -- led by group honcho Violet (Gerwig) -- intent on rescuing their fellow students from depression.

More About Her: Tipton trained as a competitive ice skater, competing twice in the US Junior Figure Skating Championships, something that no doubt helped her place third on cycle 11 of "America's Next Top Model." After leaving that show, Tipton embarked on an acting career, landing several episodes of HBO's "Hung" and a bit part in "The Green Hornet," directed by Michel Gondry.

What's Next: Look out for Tipton in the upcoming zombie romance "Warm Bodies," directed by Jonathan Levine ("50/50") and starring Dave Franco ("21 Jump Street") and Nicholas Hoult ("X-Men: First Class"). Like her "Damsels" co-star Gerwig, Tipton is also a writer, and told Indiewire she has some scripts in the works. "In the past year it's been pretty exciting, because I've worked with writer-directors and actors writing their own stuff like Greta," she shared. "Since I moved down to LA to do that, I've been taken under the wing of a few people I've worked with. I've got some things in development, so hopefully you'll see something in the next year or two."

Going into "Damsels," I was unaware that you were a runner-up in "America's Next Top Model." Call me crazy, but I drew parallels beteen your journey on that show and that of your character's over the course of the film.

Oh man -- I think you're the first one who compared that to this. How interesting! I suppose that Lily's journey could be applied to many situations. I get thrown into a lot of things. You have to find your way. And I'm always awkward at finding my way. I'm okay with that; I accept that awkwardness, I embrace it.

Damsels in Distress 2

Certainly there is a comparison. I don't think I drew anything from that, at all [laughs]. My approach to Lily was that I went in thinking she was one way, and Whit had a completely opposite idea for her. The end product was what Lily became.

I went in thinking Lily was this sweet, genuine, big-eyed girl from the Midwest. He wrote Lily to be a very plastic character, a negative foil for Greta's character -- cynical, judgmental. Because of the combination of the two extremes, what shaped up was that Lily became very skeptical, but not critical, necessarily. Her skepticism came from a space of general interest and curiosity, but just came out bluntly, which makes her a very rounded character.

She kind of starts out as the film's protagonist in many ways, and then Greta takes over. But she remains likeable throughout.

Yeah, it lets the audience decide where they want to go. Some people I talked to really gelled well with Lily. Other people love the whimsicalness of Greta's character. You're think you're with Lily, but once you're in the Whit Stillman world you're free to pick and choose whatever weirdnesses you want to take out of it.

Which character did you most identify with?

When I initially read the script, I tried not to relate too much to any character because I feel you can bring so much to a character that might not be written. Now, when I see the film, I would definitely say Greta's character. I love Violet's happy-go-lucky, positive outlook on life. My challenge with Lily was playing it so skeptical. Again, Whit would come up and be like, "Be a little harsher with that." We balanced it out finally, but for the first few days we tried this mean approach and it didn't fit as well.

"Lily is so settled. I'm not that settled (laughs). I like to dance much more that she likes to dance."

Lily is so settled. I'm not that settled (laughs). I like to dance much more that she likes to dance.

Lily is relatively normal compared to the rest of the group -- she's not prone to giving long, wordy speeches like Violet. Were you jealous of Greta on set?

I did definitely have some of those, but what my character is arguing in those long speeches is normalcy. I had satisfaction as an actor for getting those speeches, but was also laughing because I had this weird banter about being normal, when the way I'm saying things is so abnormal. The fact that Greta and I have a scene where we both have ridiculous outfits all of a sudden, discussing how the world needs more normal people, and I'm in a purple picnic table cloth?! It's so contradictory. But I think my character is misinformed as to what normal is, and she understands that too.

This article is related to: Futures, Interviews, Damsels in Distress, Analeigh Tipton