25 in 2009: Greta Gerwig

Born: 08/3/84 In: Sacramento, CA Is: Actress

In the past year, Greta Gerwig -- deemed the "muse of mumblecore" by this writer back in 2007 -- has graduated from being a major player in a relatively underground, awkwardly-named film movement to a full-fledged member of Hollywood's freshman class. "It still feels so strange when it comes out of my mouth, when people ask what I do, and I say, 'I'm an actress,'" says Gerwig.

The wide-eyed, charmingly unkempt Sacramento native started out as a playwright after graduating from Barnard, but rose to prominence as part of an incestuous group of actor-filmmakers known for making semi-improvised films highlighting the messy beauty of being an angst-ridden twentysomething -- a movement oft referred to as "mumblecore." If you followed the films closely, which came out in a fast-paced succession over the past several years, it was hard to find one that didn't involve Gerwig in some capacity, whether as a writer, actor or both. In her films -- LOL, Hannah Takes the Stairs, Yeast, Baghead, Nights and Weekends -- Gerwig can often be found captivating the whimpster males in her presence, while delivering rambly but very relatable monologues and having awkward on-camera sex. Film critics and bloggers caught on to these movies almost immediately; Hollywood took its time, but is now on board in a big way. "It's weird, in the past few years, all my friends, we kind of all went from making movies in our basements to being written about regularly in Variety. It used to be that I'd go into meetings and people would be like, 'What is that mumble thing?' But now people are dropping my friends' names with me as if I'd be impressed." Indeed, Gerwig, along with  collaborators like the Duplass brothers, Andrew Bujalski and Joe Swanberg are regularly wheeling and dealing with Hollywood heavyweights.

Gerwig's own big break came when Noah Baumbach -- whose mid-'90s cult classic Kicking and Screaming was very proto-mumblecore in its sensibility -- took notice of Gerwig and earlier this year cast her as Ben Stiller's romantic interest in his upcoming movie Greenberg. Filming wrapped a few months ago, but Gerwig is still slightly unable to believe that it actually happened, and when trying to talk about it gets lost in long roundabout metaphors. ("You know when you are trying to describe your time abroad, and it really doesn't work. You're like, 'Spain was awesome! And then I went to Italy...'") While she cites working with Baumbach as one of the most fulfilling and incredible experiences of her life thus far -- "It sounds like I'm on drugs or that they have some sort of leverage on me to make me say great things, but it really was so amazing" -- Gerwig has a hard time owning the whole process. "While I was filming, sometimes I'd be lying in bed at night and be like, 'I just ruined a Noah Baumbach movie, what have I done!'" As they say, you can take the girl out of mumblecore...

Like many of her age, Gerwig is going through a bit of a quarterlife crisis: "Twenty-five is sort of a hard age, I think. Despite all the great things that have happened, I don't think my twenties are so awesome. I feel like everyone around me is so panicked, everyone is like, 'We have to do everything right now because we're all gonna die!'" But Gerwig, a self-described member of the "ADD Generation," is starting to learn the benefits of slowing down. "Recently, I've been learning how valuable patience is -- you have to be willing to see things on a larger scale and be willing to invest a lot of time into one thing." And, also, learning to accept that she has options: "I'm reading a lot of scripts and trying to figure out what to do next. I'm not good at being careerist or planning anything, but I just believe that I'll know the right thing when it comes up, and when it comes up, it'll make sense."
Alexis Swerdloff

Wears: a dress and socks by Miu Miu, camisole by Araks, necklace by Heather Kosch, boots by Frye and vintage bracelet and hat from Screaming Mimi's

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