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Blond Ambition: Canadian Movie Star Sarah Gadon

With 5 big films in just two years, including new sci-fi horror Antiviral, the Toronto native and Cronenberg muse proves she’s more than just a pretty, billboard-gracing face.  

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Blond Ambition: Canadian Movie Star Sarah Gadon

Amid the criss-crossing red carpets and flickering flashbulbs, among the posters and press kits competing for the attention of critics and buyers, there was Sarah Gadon. The classically beautiful blonde smiled and posed for paparazzi on the Croisette alongside heartthrob Robert Pattinson, her co-star in David Cronenberg’s latest film, Cosmopolis. But she was also in the air, blown up to billboard size as the poster girl for another Cronenberg movie-Antiviral, the first feature from David’s son, Brandon.

“Cannes is such a surreal experience,” says the 25-year-old Toronto native of springtime’s annual cinematic blowout. “But to see that was ridiculous. It’s just so far removed from me.” She’s being humble. Gadon is no stranger to the red carpet, having graced it at Cannes and at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Antiviral recently made its North American premiere.

Gadon has pulled off an impressive hat trick, appearing in three Cronenberg projects in two years. In David’s films, she has ably played off above-the-title stars. For A Dangerous Method, she took on the role of Emma Jung, wife to Michael Fassbender’s frazzled psychoanalyst-a casting coup for an emerging talent. She was the perfect embodiment of the weary hausfrau, a witness to her unravelling marriage to the double-dealing Dr. Jung. In Cosmopolis, she was a cooler, wilier wife, a blue-blooded poet conveying thinly veiled contempt for Pattinson’s billionaire banker.

With Antiviral comes the prospect of a real breakout. The film unfolds in a near-future Toronto where celebrity culture has reached a fever pitch. American actor Caleb Landry Jones plays a technician at a clinic specializing in bespoke viruses, which are harvested from sickly superstars and injected into rabid fans. Gadon plays Hannah Geist, a mega-celeb whose illnesses consistently rank as the clinic’s top sellers. 

Next: How Gadon picks her roles
and why her face is everywhere.

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While Jones is at the centre of the picture-he gets top billing and appears in just about every shot-Gadon is its face. She is everywhere: in brochures, on televisions, on colossal billboards like the one that dominated Cannes. With her smooth ringlets, piercing blue eyes and alabaster complexion, she is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s icy blondes, a femme fatale seducing the world at a safe remove. In Antiviral, Gadon is not only glamorous-she is the epitome of glamour. Yet it’s telling that the film that most significantly advances the notion of Sarah Gadon, Movie Star is staunchly anticelebrity. It’s the clever choice of an actor with powerfully infectious qualities. 

Gadon attributes her knack for picking thought-provoking roles to being a film student. Though she has consistently appeared in films and television since she was ten-popping up in Canadian-produced TV series such as Nikita and Are You Afraid of the Dark?-Gadon has made time for classes at the University of Toronto, where she’s currently enrolled. “It helps me think of film in more of a historical way. I want to be in movies that people will study 20, 30, 50 years from now.”

She’s well on her way. In 2013, Gadon will appear opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in An Enemy, the next film from acclaimed Québécois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Incendies). She already gravitates towards stimulating filmmakers and possesses a rare ability to parlay her talent and looks into compelling projects. More massive billboards may come in turn.


Photo (above): Getty Images 

Photo (left): A sick world: virus harvesting in Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral. Courtesy of Alliance Atlantis.

Antiviral opens in theatres October 12, 2012.