Within minutes of speaking with Brit Marling, you realize she isn’t like most young actresses. Sure, she’s pretty—stunning, actually. She has a breezy aplomb, à la Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence, which makes you think, I’d totally grab beers with her.
The 29-year-old actress graduated from Georgetown University with an economics degree back in 2005, but turned down a job offer from Goldman Sachs after a summer internship in favor of trying to make a go of it in the film industry. Her big breakthrough came during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, when two movies she co-wrote and starred in premiered—the sci-fi drama Another Earth, directed by her Georgetown pal Mike Cahill, and another college friend Zal Batmanglij’s Sound of My Voice, about a mysterious cult.
Now Marling has reunited with Batmanglij for the thriller The East. In the film, which she also co-wrote, she plays Sarah Moss, an operative working for a private intelligence firm who’s tasked with infiltrating an eco-anarchist collective known as the East. The group, led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgard) and Izzy (Ellen Page), executes covert attacks—or “jams”—on eco-unfriendly corporations, e.g., flooding a Big Oil CEO’s vacation home with crude. The more time she spends with the group, however, the more she finds herself adopting its point of view.