The 27-year-old star of micro-budget mumblecore films like Hannah Takes the Stairs made a splash in the mainstream last year with Greenberg, then another in January's No Strings Attached, with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. But her biggest foray into mass consciousness comes in next month's remake of Arthur, playing opposite Russell Brand. "I hope I can go a little Crispin Glover-y," she says of her career aspirations. "He does big films and then makes totally weird ones." We asked the thinking man's celebrity crush for her take on books, art, music, and more.
Last Album I Recommended
"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. I love it. I think it's so strange and honest. He seems completely nuts in a lot of ways, but he's owning it, which I respect."
"Sofia Coppola. I see her walking around and she always looks great. She looks like she never spills anything on any of her clothes. There's something effortlessly elegant about her that I admire and possibly don't have."
Favorite Internet Time Waster
"Nerdboyfriend.com. It's just pictures of guys who dress kind of nerdily, like Eddie Murphy in the eighties or Woody Allen in the sixties. I can waste hours and hours on it."
"Man-on-the-run movies. The good ones are Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View, but there are a lot of bad ones like Eagle Eye. I like the ones from the seventies more."
Go-To Karaoke Song
"When I'm drunk, it's always 'We Didn't Start the Fire,' because I memorized all the words—it was the dorky thing to do in high school. When I'm really trying to impress, I dig ballad-y David Bowie songs like 'Five Years.'"
Art I'd Like to Own
"Photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. And the self-portraits of Rembrandt."
Last Book That Made Me Think
"Freedom, that big-ass new novel by Jonathan Franzen. He's a great writer of sentences and paragraphs, and really funny to read, but ultimately it frustrated me—500 pages later, I was like, 'Really? These people are just assholes?'"
Best Music for Getting It On
"This is so lame, but I have to go with Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. In college I convinced a boy to make out with me through the entire album. We didn't have sex because he was gay."
Best Place to See a Concert
"I really like seeing big-ass concerts in Madison Square Garden—like Pink Floyd reunion tours and Lady Gaga concerts. I like things that are big and gaudy, with the option of sitting. I'm secretly an old man and I get tired of standing at concerts."
Best In-Flight Music
"Music for Airports by Brian Eno. But then it was used in that movie The Lovely Bones, so now I associate it with Stanley Tucci saying, 'Don't you want to see my secret clubhouse?'"
Fashion Choice I Don't Have the Guts to Try
"White jeans. You can't wear them in New York. I'm a spiller, and I'm clumsy. I've actually sat down on a painted bench, which I thought only happened in Mentos commercials."
"I'd like to play Elaine Stritch in The Elaine Stritch Story. She's such a funny broad. I'd play her in her twenties through her fifties and do age makeup and talk about falling in love with Rock Hudson and what a mistake that was, and being asked out by Marlon Brando, and how he didn't like her because she didn't put out. He said to her, 'Elaine, what I need from you is silence and distance.'"
Best Kept Dining Secret in New York
"There's a noodle place on Doyers Street in Chinatown, which may not have a name. All the noodle restaurants there have Chinese names and then the English names are like 'Super-Magical Unicorn Noodle'—just a bunch of random words that sound positive. They make their noodles right there and nothing on the menu is over $5. It's delicious."
"A lot of Mexican food, like tamales and real Mexican rice and beans—made with lard. There's a place called Down Town Bakery II in the East Village that does good Mexican. It's not a bakery; I don't know why they call it that. But they have really good, lard-y fare."
"My roommates and I have a collection of VHS tapes, mainly because they're free. Fanny & Alexander, Throw Momma from the Train, Mississippi Burning. Our wall of VHS is like an early nineties video store. People come over to our house and they're like, 'Why!?' It's not like records. No one is making an argument that VHS quality is better. It's shitty! It's always been shitty! But it's fun."