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Iron Woman

Stephanie Szostak cozies up to Robert Downey Jr. in this month’s Iron Man 3

Stephanie Szostak

When an early Iron Man 3 clip revealed a mysterious redhead getting close to Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.), fans in the blogosphere immediately wanted to know, “Who’s that girl?” The actress is Stephanie Szostak, but moviegoers will have to wait a bit longer to learn more about her character, Ellen Brandt. “I’m never sure what I can say, so I’m not talking much these days,” she laughs. So, who is Szostak? The French-American actress was born in the suburbs of Paris and attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia before relocating to New York for a marketing position at Chanel. “It was my first real job out of college, but it wasn’t my dream. I quit and took an acting class.” Her background in fashion proved helpful for her first major role as Jacqueline Follet in The Devil Wears Prada. This summer she’ll appear in the undead police film R.I.P.D., but it’s her enigmatic role in this month’s Iron Man 3 that has people talking, even if she’s staying mum.

How does it feel to be part of a major franchise?
I’m not a big comic book fan myself, but I feel lucky. I loved the first two Iron Man films.

What type of training did you do to prepare for Iron Man 3? The street boxing, Thai boxing and martial arts regimen was demanding, but fun. It changes you. I’m kind of a girly girl, but it changes the way you walk. It changes your confidence on a physical level. It helped me get in touch with who this character is.

Speaking of enigmatic characters, you also recently completed R.I.P.D., about a team of undead cops. How was that? On the first day I was in this big room sitting with Kevin Bacon, Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. We had a bit of a break. There was this silence in the room and all of a sudden it hit me. I thought, ‘There’s Kevin Bacon, Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and me.’ It was quite insane.

Do you have any newfound insight on auditions?
The best part is that you have a chance to show your work. Kevin Bacon actually said to me, ‘Auditioning is kind of nice. You’re not just a number on a list. You can actually show what you can do.’

How do you spend your time when you visit L.A.?
I usually have appointments or I’m working, but I love The Little Next Door on 3rd Street. I always go there and eat by myself and bring a book.