AHNA O’REILLY IN NEW YORK, JULY 2013. DRESS: ROBERTO CAVALLI. STYLING: NATASHA ROYT.
“It is such an actor’s fantasy,” says Ahna O’Reilly, who is referring to the number of lines on her IMDb profile marked “2013.” After appearing in 2011’s The Help, the 28-year-old actress has been working nonstop. She’s already popped up in one of the year’s most acclaimed indies, Fruitvale Station, and she’s completed work on two more anticipated releases: this month’s As I Lay Dying, James Franco’s new adaptation of the William Faulkner novel; and the forthcoming CBGB, the story behind the seminal NYC punk club, in which O’Reilly plays Mary Harron, the director who was an early journalistic chronicler of the iconic downtown punk scene. “I could probably do a documentary on acting classes, I’ve taken so many,” says the longtime L.A. journeywoman who grew up partly in Europe but largely in Palo Alto near the campus of Apple. The family was one of the few in the area not involved in technology (her father published travel books, her mother designed educational games for children), although, she recalls, “We would see Steve Jobs at Whole Foods.” It’s a sublime example of life punking art that she plays Jobs’s girlfriend in Jobs, the Ashton Kutcher-starring biopic of the Apple founder. However, though O’Reilly’s first love is musical theater—she did a pre-Broadway workshop of The Robber Bridegroom opposite Kathryn Hahn (Parks and Recreation)—it’s her turn in As I Lay Dying that she really effuses over. “I think James is one of our greatest actors and a wonderful human being,” she says of Franco, to whom she has in the past been romantically linked. “I could not have been more honored that he cast me.” Beyond remaining good friends, the two may end up working together very soon. “We’re making The Sound and the Fury next,” O’Reilly says. “When you know someone for a long time, you know how to communicate with each other, and it only serves us working together.”
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