Rising Star: Carey Mulligan

She may look delicate and fragile with her alabaster skin and lithe frame, but 24-year-old Carey Mulligan has some ferocious acting chops.

The 24-year-old actress is winning the hearts of critics from London to Los Angeles – and the honor of being AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star — with her mesmerizing performance in the indie film, “An Education,” which opens Friday in New York and LA.

As Jenny, a plucky teenage school girl in the 1960s, whose family hopes her brilliance will take her to Oxford, while her own dreams surround the adventures she goes on with her much older boyfriend, the arts-loving David (played by Peter Sarsgaard), Carey is positively luminous.

“I mean I knew from her audition immediately,” Peter told Access of what made the relatively unknown actress perfect for the part, written by famed British author Nick Hornby. “I remember when I first saw her and it was like, ‘That’s the girl!’… And it’s not just her acting skill, it’s that there are very few actors that are capable of supporting such joy and optimism and enthusiasm in a film and not look like an idiot… We take optimism to mean stupidity, but you can tell that there’s intelligence in there and I think that’s what’s really surprising and really energizing about her performance.”

Before landing the role that already has people shouting for the actress get an Oscar nomination, Carey landed parts in the big screen version of “Pride & Prejudice” and several British television dramas including “Bleak House,” and “The Amazing Mrs. Pritchard.”

But it is in her role as Jenny, a girl both beyond and of her years, that sets Carey apart from her Hollywood peers. Tell her she’s worth of an Oscar nod, however, and Carey blushes.

“It’s really flattering, obviously,” Carey said of the attention. “I was so relieved when the film got picked up… So everything else is a bonus. It’s a mad concept everything else and it’s been a wonderful year and it’s kind of afforded me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had so it’s been good.”

Among those opportunities are fancy premiere clothes that have been sent her way. Then there are the films she’s been offered including most recently, “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.”

In between promoting “An Education,” Carey’s been spotted filming “Wall Street 2,” in which she plays Winnie Gekko, the daughter of Michael Douglas’ iconic character.

“It’s fun. It’s sort of a man’s world film. I’m sort of the girl in a man’s film, but it’s good,” she laughs.

While “An Education” was filled with classic cars, art and music, “Wall Street 2” has an entirely different set of things to experience.

“Motorcycles,” Carey laughs of suiting up in leather and hopping on a hog with co-star Shia LaBeouf for some recent scenes. “I’ve never done that before, it’s a whole new world for me.”

With “An Education,” “Wall Street 2,” as well as the upcoming “Brothers” alongside Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire — there is no doubt Carey’s world is about to get a lot bigger.

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