Air%20Supply%20:%20One%20of%20the%20best%20things%20about%20Sundance%20is%20finding%20new%20talent%2C%20and%20over%20the%20next%20few%20weeks%20we'll%20be%20sharing%20this%20year's%20discoveries%20with%20you%20in%20series%20of%20features%20which%20shine%20a%20light%20on%20some%20of%20the%20most%20promising%20personalities%20in%20film.%20First%20up%20is%20Vancouverite%20Mackenzie%20Davis%2C%20who%20had%20Park%20City%20buzzing%20over%20her%20role%20in%20the%20festival%20favourite%2C%20%3Ci%3EBreathe%20In%3C%2Fi%3E.%20%3Cfont%20color%3D%22%23999999%22%3EBy%20Caitlin%20Smith.%20Photographed%20by%20Charlotte%20Wales%3C%2Ffont%3E Check%20out%20the%20latest%20in%20the%20@Aritzia%20Magazine.%20Air%20Supply%20-
Air Supply

Air Supply

One of the best things about Sundance is finding new talent, and over the next few weeks we'll be sharing this year's discoveries with you in series of features which shine a light on some of the most promising personalities in film. First up is Vancouverite Mackenzie Davis, who had Park City buzzing over her role in the festival favourite, Breathe In. By Caitlin Smith. Photographed by Charlotte Wales

“I remember going in and being like, What the fuck has my agent sent me on,” Mackenzie Davis says of entering the waiting room of her audition in New York City for Breathe In, just two months after graduating from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in 2011. “All of the girls were beauty queens with long hair and they looked 15 years old, but also 30 years old...I just felt so out of my element. Like, Ugh, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Despite her hesitance that day, she nailed the audition. “I had this very stupid, cinematic idea of me being like, I’m gonna go fight for this part!” recalls the Los Angeles-based actress, sitting on a couch in a Brooklyn photo studio, with one long leg tucked underneath her and her flaxen blond locks pulled back under a slouchy beanie. And last month, at the premiere of Breathe In at Sundance, 25-year-old Davis looked completely in her element, standing tall and willowy on stage alongside her esteemed co-stars Guy Pearce, Felicity Jones, and Amy Ryan. During a Q&A after the film, which played to a packed theatre, the director Drake Doremus (who had a Sundance hit—and crossover success—with Like Crazy in 2011) said that he and the casting directors saw an extensive amount of girls for the role, and that Davis was “by far the least experienced, and by far the best.” Watching her in the film, it’s surprising to learn she’s such a newbie; her only previous credit is a small part in last year's relationship drama Smashed. There’s something so strikingly familiar about the Vancouver native’s slender face and blue-green eyes, but it may just be her subtle ease on screen that makes it seem as though she’s been in about a hundred other movies you’ve seen before.

In Breathe In, Davis stars as Lauren, an 18-year-old senior in high school in upstate New York who’s playing host—along with her music teacher father Keith (Guy Pearce) and controlling cookie-jar-collecting mother Megan (Amy Ryan)—to enigmatic English foreign exchange student Sophie (Felicity Jones). Who, helped in part by Keith's midlife crisis, rocks the seemingly happy family to its very foundations. It’s Lauren, though, who seems to be most affected by Sophie’s unintentional intrusions. “The thing about Lauren is that she’s really just figuring shit out and has to react to what’s being thrown her way,” Davis says sincerely, as though she were talking about a close friend, or her younger sister. “She’s trying to be an adult and deal with a somewhat adult relationship—like losing her virginity, but playing it aloof. And then this horrible tragedy develops in her life; her two most important male relationships are ripped away from her. She doesn’t have enough experience in the world to know how to deal with it. I mean, I don’t know if people could deal with some of the stuff that happens to her in the movie.” She lets out a pained laugh and recalls a scene in which Lauren goes on a destructive bender after a particularly horrible day. “I would probably drink and go do something crazy, too.”

As in his other films, Doremus only had an outline for Breathe In’s script, which required a heavy amount of improvisation from the cast—a boon for Davis, who studied the Meisner technique in school. “In every single scene, the dialogue was straight from our minds,” says Davis. “If he saw you driving too hard on the words or a beat in the scene, he would say, ‘No, no, no, just let it happen—just talk to each other.’ It was like a dream.”

Next up, Davis will conquer much lighter fare in rom-coms Are We Officially Dating? (co-starring Zac Efron) and The F Word (with Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan) as well as a fantasy-meets-comedy with vampires, zombies, and aliens (oh my!) called The Kitchen Sink alongside Nicholas Braun. “Everything changed for me the second Drake cast me in his movie. My life’s been so drastically different all because this one person said that I was allowed to be a part of this very exclusive world,” she says, beaming.