Rose Byrne has a not-so-secret weapon: those striking, shapely . . . eyebrows, which can communicate contempt, amusement, calculation, innocence, insecurity, terror—all in an instant. They're a key part of the 33-year-old Aussie actress's Swiss Army knife–like utility. Since first catching our attention as Natalie Portman's handmaiden more than a decade ago in Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones, she's appeared in everything from zombie flicks (28 Weeks Later) to sword-and-sandals epics (Troy) to comic-book adaptations (X Men: First Class) to R-rated comedy blockbusters (Bridesmaids). No wonder she was sought-after to play the female lead in virtually every network pilot shot for this fall.
But Byrne, who battled wits with Glenn Close for five seasons on the twisty legal thriller Damages, isn't ready to return to prime time. Instead, she's following a well-regarded turn in the fathers-and-sons drama The Place Beyond the Pines by playing a haughty Google exec who rebuffs Owen Wilson's bumbling advances in the summer buddy comedy The Internship. She discovered her knack for comic timing playing Jackie Q, the raunchy British pop star who breaks Russell Brand's heart (and beds Lars Ulrich) in Get Him to the Greek, and she's still new enough to movie humor that she ruins takes by cracking up. "It's so unprofessional," she says. "But I've gotten better!"
The comedy work (Bridesmaids, especially) has raised her profile to the point where tabloids follow her comings and goings (a canoodling session with new boyfriend Bobby Cannavale was widely reported last fall), but Byrne doesn't mind—at least not yet. "I'm lucky in that I don't have my business all over," she says. "So the little bit of scrutiny I get, I'm fine with." For all her range, Byrne can get attached to her projects. She's reuniting with Get Him to the Greek director Nicholas Stoller in Townies and with The Internship director Shawn Levy in This Is Where I Leave You, two starry ensemble comedies. Her next movie, due in September, is a sequel to the horror hit Insidious, which she says was like reuniting with an old friend, the same way coming back to Damages every season used to feel. She likes the idea of revisiting other characters, too: "Maybe Jackie Q can pop up in someone else's movie!" So how about a Bridesmaids reunion? "Not likely," she says. Then the telltale eyebrows arch as she reconsiders. "Next time we meet, I'll be like, 'I know I said it would never happen, but we all got in touch, and things change. And I didn't laugh at all.'"