Adelaide Clemens has a baby face, and she knows how to use it. “Generally, I play the kind of ethereal, fragile-on-the-outside-but-hard-and-damaged-on-the-inside type,” the 22-year-old actress says with a sly smile. “I think the baby face makes it more twisted.” Her recent roles include a suicidal chat-room dweller in the 2011 Shunji Iwai cult film Vampire, a nightmare-plagued teenager in this fall’s Silent Hill: Revelation 3-D, and a sociopathic prostitute in the as-yet-unreleased Generation Um. In reality, the Brisbane, Australia–born actress is more charming and sweet than dark and warped, cracking jokes about her childhood and her accidental foray into acting. “I never consciously set out to be an actor,” she says. “I just kind of did whatever acting I could do. I was writing one-act plays and set up the Shakespeare club in my school, but studying was what I loved.” It was a drama teacher who pushed Clemens to pursue acting seriously, and she found herself in Fiji at age 17 shooting a children’s action-adventure television show. Next came an Australian TV series, then a film for MTV Australia, and next thing Clemens knew she was living in Los Angeles and going on as many as three auditions a day. “I think it only hit me a couple of months ago that I’m an actor,” she says. Unintentional or not, Clemens’s pursuit of turning acting into a serious career is nothing if not impressive. While filming Vampire, she read the script for Parade’s End, the forthcoming miniseries on HBO adapted by playwright Tom Stoppard. “I knew I just had to do this. And, literally, I’m filming this horror film, and the whole time I’m thinking about Parade’s End,” she says. Although she was initially rejected for the role of spirited suffragette Valentine Wannop, Clemens did not quit. As soon as filming wrapped on Vampire, she flew to London and begged director Susanna White for 15 minutes of her time. White agreed, and Clemens showed up to the audition in Edwardian costume. Fifteen minutes turned into three hours, which included line readings with Stoppard himself—until he abruptly ended the session and walked out. “I walked home bawling my eyes out, in full period dress,” she recalls. “The day before I leave, I get a call that they want me to do another reading. I was like, ‘What? Do you want me in the outfit?’ And then I got the job.”
PHOTO: ADELAIDE CLEMENS IN LOS ANGELES, MAY 2012. DRESS: ALBERTA FERRETTI. COSMETICS: ELIZABETH ARDEN. HAIR PRODUCTS: LIVING PROOF. STYLING: DAVID THOMAS/OPUS BEAUTY. HAIR: TONY CHAVEZ FOR LIVING PROOF/JED ROOT, INC. MAKEUP: KATHY JEUNG/THE MAGNET AGENCY. SPECIAL THANKS: THE STANDARD HOTEL DOWNTOWN L.A.