Audiences and critics fell in love with her as Jenny, the precocious schoolgirl wooed by a businessman twice her age. But the makers of An Education weren't so instantly beguiled; Mulligan, now 24, endured multiple auditions before she got the part. And after years of supporting roles in Brit films and TV series, she cringed when she watched herself at the center of a movie. "I thought I was completely awful," she says. "All you can do is focus on yourself and become convinced that you're the most boring person in the universe. But that's who I was at the time. And the stuff I see in it that drives me crazy is what others think made the character real." Having secured an Oscar nomination and a juicy role in Oliver Stone's sequel to Wall Street (with current beau Shia LaBeouf), Mulligan now can go a little easier on herself. Stardom will do wonders for an actress's ego.
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