BURBANK, Calif. — Last week Hollywood box office ‘Blonde’ Reese Witherspoon and her husband of seven years, actor Ryan Phillippe, announced they were separating. While the couple have admitted to undergoing marriage counseling in recent years, both Us Weekly and People magazine have suggested that the union’s final breakdown may have been affected by Ryan’s relationship with a star-on-the-rise — Australian actress Abbie Cornish.
Reports have accused Ryan and Abbie, a worldly, 24-year-old blonde, of growing close in Austin, Texas, during the latter part of this past summer while filming the 2007-due Iraq war drama “Stop Loss.” Us Weekly reported that the two were spotted canoodling at the Texas capitol’s upscale Asian-food restaurant Kenichi, whose clientele has also included Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow.
Camp Cornish has since denied reports of a romance telling the magazine “they are co-stars and that is it.” Ryan told People magazine that, “I’m not a perfect person, but I’m not guilty of a lot of the things I have been accused of. My priority is and always has been the health and safety of my family.”
Whether or not the scandal dies down, Abbie will remain in the spotlight thanks to a host of feature film roles ready to hit the screen. In fact, the pretty blonde, who has been referred to as the “new” or “young” Nicole Kidman in world media, has been on the brink of break-out success for months.
On November 17, the small town girl from Hunter Valley, Australia, a locale 130 miles outside of Sydney, is set to make her biggest impression stateside, starring in the title role of “Candy” opposite Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger and Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush. The gritty relationship drama about two young heroin addicts was released in her native Oz back in May and helped her nab a nomination for best lead actress from the Australian Film Institute, last month.
She is also about to be on American screens in the Ridley Scott directed, Russell Crowe fronted vehicle “A Good Year.” Though Abbie’s acting history includes a host of critically acclaimed film and television roles over the last decade in her homeland, she found her time on set with Russell inspiring.
“When I worked with Russell I realized you’re the supporter of your own ideas and your own creativity,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald in April. “He’s very strong in what he believes and thinks — when you work with someone like him you realize how important your own personal opinion is within your work.”
Russell too has spoken out about the actress, telling British women’s Web site Handbag.com of his admiration of her talent, while noting he’s offered her brotherly advice (the interview took place prior to the news of Reese and Ryan’s divorce).
“She’s a great girl,” he is reported to have said. “And, you know, I don’t mean to be too much of a wanker about it, but just being in that situation, it’s her first major international movie — if she’s got any problems she knows she’s got a mate right there. Possibly, in a way setting an example, of work ethic and you know, kind of gentle leadership. But the thing is, Abbie’s got it going on, she’s got all she needs to be successful, so in a way it’s just a privilege for me to get to work with her whilst she’s young. Then I can sit back and watch her become really successful, and say, ‘Hey, I worked with that kid once, you know!’”
If that isn’t impressive enough, last month Abbie was filming alongside Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” the sequel to the eponymously titled film about the former British queen.
The starlet’s rise to fame is no overnight success story. Abbie, one of five children, grew up on a farm in Aussie wine country, falling into acting in her teens. Her delicate features — a turned up nose, daring eyes and a plump, baby-doll pout combined with her edgy acting style helped her win parts back home. In 1999, one of those roles — on Australian television show “Wildside” — netted her an AFI young actor’s award.
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Her first movie role occurred in 2000’s “The Monkey’s Mask,” alongside “Top Gun” babe Kelly McGillis. It was her 2004 part as Heidi, a runway teen who tries out love with a troubled young man in indie flick “Somersault” that catapulted her to fame at home. A selection of the Cannes film festival that year, “Somersault” also helped generate major international interest in the performer.
More than an actress, Abbie has been a traveler, donning a backpack in her late teens and trekking through Europe, North America and South America, earning money by working in youth hostels and call centers. Her early 20s found her falling in love back home with Kid Lyrical, an MC for the Melbourne hip-hop act Blades of Hades.
Abbie’s own musical abilities, which include playing piano, were furthered by her association with the band and saw her indulge in spots of rapping alongside her beau before the two split. Clearly a major heartbreak for the young star, Abbie told the Sydney Morning Herald in April of this year that she remained smitten with Kid Lyrical.
“I’m still actually completely in love with this guy. Things just change, but I still adore him,” she said.
By October though, Abbie was in Austin, Texas working on “Stop Loss,” and she told The Times, her heart had healed.
“Now that I’m single, it’s quite enjoyable. I don’t really mind,” she noted
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