“On every film I do, whenever there are other girls my age, I think it’s definitely up to me to set the pace. That’s because I’ve had a lot of experience, and I think there’s always a certain amount of professionalism that should be maintained. If I was catty or whatever, it would just make the whole shoot unpleasant. And what’s the point of that?” –Kirsten Dunst

Thora Birch was just sixteen when she stunned audiences with her portrayal of Jane Burham, a suburban teenager courageously making her way through a suburban nightmare in Sam Mendes’ American Beauty. She went on to star in the cult-classic, Ghost World with another rising star, Scarlett Joahansson, for which Thora received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress. Many insiders surmised this talented young lady would have a long, successful, and storied career, but Thora has largely gone unnoticed over the last ten years and is “currently looking for an agent.” There seems to be many reasons why a star of such magnitude dropped from the public consciousness so abruptly, but Thora herself puts it this way, “I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice.” She goes on to say she struggled with the industry obsession on glamour and found it distasteful, “So yeah, I had that kind of  ‘oh-piss-off-everyone’ attitude.”

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Sienna Miller made her bones in Hollywood with a searing portrayal of Andy Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick in George Hickenlooper’s Factory Girl. But after a very public breakup with Jude Law, her career faltered, and she went on a three-year hiatus to regroup and gain some needed perspective. Of her career slide, Sienna admits, “It had become difficult for me to get the work I wanted, if I’m really honest.” In a moment of blunt honesty–something that can be rare in Hollywood–she goes on to say, “I sabotaged things…I burned a lot of bridges. I never read a review or paid any mind to what anyone said.” Sienna is currently working hard to get her career back on track, and says plainly, “I’m very lucky to have a second chance in this town.”

It’s hard to overestimate how competitive Hollywood really is when stars like Thora Birch and Sienna Miller are jonesing for work. It goes to show that, with all of its characters and dramas and phantasmagorias and Sturm und Drangs aside, Hollywood is serious business. And if you want to succeed in this business, you need to be a pro…on just about every level. Because if you’re not, be sure the next actor will be. But the good news is being attentive, hard working, and a pleasure to work with is something you do well!

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