AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

2/17/10

Legal Eagle Rose Byrne


By Winnie Bonelli

Actress Rose Byrne slept with Brad Pitt in “Troy,” and attempted to save the world with Nicholas Cage in “Knowing.” Yet her regular Emmy and Golden Globe nominated gig finds her verbally sparring with Glenn Close on F/X’s “Damages” that returns for a third season on Jan. 25th.

Backstabbing is an integral part of “Damages,” and more recently minted attorney Ellen, Byrne’s alter ego, still expresses a secret desire to duke it out with Patty Hewes, Glenn Close’s character, in the courtroom. Yet producer Glenn Kesseler expressed another priority, “At the end of season two, Patty and Ellen were very separate. Will they or won’t they encounter one another and interact? And if so, how will that go?”

Byrne added, “I think this season will be exploring the theme of family. You get to see Ellen with her parents and her sister and I think it reveals a lot about where she came from. It’s the polar opposite of her life with Patty and at the office. Ellen hasn’t spoken to Patty for six months and she’s really moved on in a real genuine kind of sense.

“The complexity of their relationship is definitely something that we still kind of end up exploring throughout the season.”

Also in the forefront is the investigation of a Bernie Madoff-esque situation, casting Len Cariou in the spotlight with Lily Tomlin playing his wife, while Martin Short appears as the formidable family attorney.

Despite the award nominations, Byrne’s career has managed to fly just below the radar. The native of Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, was only 12 when a talent agent landed her a role in Sandra Bernhard’s “Dallas Doll.” The native of Balmain, a suburb of Sydney, was next seen in the Australian soap “Echo Point.”

In hindsight, it was “a six month crash course in getting famous,” one that abruptly ended with the cancellation of the show.

Fortunately, Byrne rebounded three years later when director Gregor Jordan cast her opposite another relative unknown, Heath Ledger, in the crime caper “Two Hands.” Heating up beyond the screen, Byrne became romantically involved with Jordan, who took her to Los Angeles. As for Ledger, the subject remains off limits.

Seldom lacking for work, a partial list of credits include Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” the sci-fi thriller “28 Weeks Later” and Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine,” plus Paul McGuigan’s thriller “Wicker Park with Josh Hartnett.

Byrne recently wrapped the latest installment from Judd Apatow titled “Get Him to the Greek” with Russell Borand. Set for release by Universal in April, Byrne plays a pop star, a role that requires her to render a few tunes.

That wasn’t a problem, but the costumes were. “You really have to have a lot of confidence to wear them,” she laughed. Judging from the hype that’s already begun to build, “Get Him to the Greek” could be just the vehicle needed to officially propel Byrne to A-list status.

*Winnie Bonelli writes for the North Jersey Media Group, New Jersey Monthly Magazine, Coleman-Rayner LLC Celebrity Syndicate, (201) Magazine, Irish Connections, The Independent on Long Island, and Life & Style Magazine. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

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