Odeya Rush is new darling of Hollywood after The Giver

Odeya Rush is new darling of Hollywood after The Giver
Actors Odeya Rush (L) and Brenton Thwaites attend the premiere of "The Giver" in New York August 11, 2014.

Sometimes, all it takes is one break to make it big in movies.

Such is the case with Odeya Rush - the fresh-faced newcomer that all of Hollywood is fawning over.

The Israeli-born actress achieved some success after 2012's The Odd Life Of Timothy Green. But it's her portrayal as Fiona in The Giver that could take her career to the next level.

Directed by Phillip Noyce, The Giver, which opens here tomorrow, is based on Lois Lowry's 1993 award-winning novel. The book has even been part of US high school curriculum since the late 90s.

The plot follows teenager Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) who is on the cusp of maturity and is chosen as an apprentice to the enigmatic Receiver of Memory (Jeff Bridges).

But Jonas discovers that the utopian society that he lives in is not as perfect as it seems. Rush plays Fiona, Jonas' pillar of strength and love interest.

M met Rush during the recent press junket and she was as captivating in person as on the big screen.

Only 17, she was composed and articulate as if an industry veteran.

It probably also helps to grab attention when your eyes are as extraordinarily blue as hers.

Described as "wise beyond her years" by Bridges, Rush was chosen for the part after an intensive worldwide search.

Working with a mentor like Bridges, 64, provided Rush with valuable insights from the Oscar-winning actor.

"He told me not to take life too seriously. Don't be afraid to be the fool and just jump in," Rush told M.

Learnt from nurses

In the film, Fiona is tasked with caring for the community's babies.

To help her better prepare for the role, she also volunteered at a hospital while shooting on location in Cape Town, South Africa.

"Nurses, they know little tricks I wouldn't know. Phil (Noyce) just wanted me to have this natural touch like Fiona has."

However, it wasn't all work and no play on set, with Rush mentioning the cast's "jam sessions" as the most memorable and fun.

She recalled how Bridges and Thwaites would often play the guitar, and when Grammy-winning singer Taylor Swift came on set for her role as Rosemary, she'd join them on piano or guitar.

"We'd all sing stuff from the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I loved those moments. It was great bonding time."

The Rush family migrated to the US when the actress was only nine. Life in a new country meant that she was forced to learn English.

"I'd speak to my dad in Hebrew and he'd answer me in English - I'd hate it so much," Rush said.

"But now I'm helping him with his English."

With The Giver on her resume, Rush is looking forward to grow her credentials like her favourite actress, fellow Israeli star Natalie Portman, whom she fell in love with after watching The Professional at 11.

"I wasn't a serious kid, but I liked heavier stuff and seeing someone that young in that type of role, carrying a movie, just blew my mind.

"She also came from Israel so it felt like I could do this."

And Rush's dreams go beyond just being in front of the camera.

She'd like to write her own scripts and direct her own movies, becoming a "triple threat" like Lena Dunham, another actress she looks up to and would love to "work with her one day."

But until then, Rush will continue building her status in Tinseltown.

Her next big project is an adaption of RL Stine's popular children's novels Goosebumps where she takes the lead role of Hannah, starring opposite Jack Black.

In Rush's case, The Giver looks set to let her receive greater success.

By Kristie Bertucci

Next page for five things about Brenton Thwaites

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