When actress Emma Roberts sits down to be interviewed by a magazine writer, she must be wondering how long it will take before her Hollywood lineage is mentioned.
After all, in a town where nepotism abounds and famous family dynasties are a dime a dozen (Paltrow, Sheen, Bridges, Douglas...), it is an obvious topic to tackle. So, let's cease her stressing and get right to it, shall we?
Emma was born 3,000 miles away from Los Angeles in Rhinebeck, New York, to schoolteacher Kelly Cunningham and her boyfriend, actor Eric Roberts (a recent alum of the TV show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew). The couple split when their daughter was very young. And though Emma seldom sees her father, she has remained close with his sisters, Lisa and megastar Julia.
When Emma was 8, Julia helped her snag a part as an extra in the 2001 romantic comedy America's Sweethearts. Emma took that leg up and ran with it. After landing her first major role, as Johnny Depp's daughter in the drug drama Blow, she steadily built a career that has taken her from small-screen tween fare (Nickelodeon's Unfabulous) to family films (Nancy Drew and Hotel for Dogs) to edgier and more mature material (last year's It's Kind of a Funny Story and Valentine's Day). To suit her work schedule, Emma switched to being home schooled and tutored on the set. "My friends joke that I've only been to high school in a movie," she says with a laugh that shows off the same broad smile her aunt is beloved for.
Check out scenes from Emma's cover shoot!
Tales from the Dark Side
Recently, Emma temporarily traded her honey-colored hair for a darker 'doÃ¢â‚¬”and role. She leads a new class of terrorized students who are running from a masked killer in the highly anticipated Scream 4, which hits theaters on April 15. For Emma, acting petrified came easily. "I watched half of the first [Scream] movies from under a blanket," she admits.
"We did a lot of chase scenes in the movie, and I'd get so freaked out. Even though you know it's not real, part of you still has this scary adrenaline rush." Considering that Emma plays the cousin of series-long survivor Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), her character could very well be the linchpin in future installments of the horror franchiseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦that is, if she makes it out alive.
Scream 4 director Wes Craven raves about his newest starlet: "She knocked our socks off," he says. "She is intelligent and was able to pull a real performance even from her audition, which we did via Skype. She has a great combination of an all-American look and tremendous gravitas and force."
Not to mention a crowded bookshelf. "Most actors would sit around Twittering. She reads serious books and has a knowledge of several centuries' worth of literature," marvels Craven. Emma concedes: "I have Eat, Pray, Love next to the Twilight series next to Joan Didion."
Living in the Moment
Being well-read no doubt helped Emma get into New York's elite Sarah Lawrence College, but so far she has deferred her admission. "I think it's important to have as many experiences as possible in life because one day you won't be able to do it anymore," she says.
Her latest obsession is Pilates. "I'm impatient," says Emma, who prefers Reformer sessions to mat classes. "A couple times [on the machines] and you already see results. You wake up in the morning feeling a lot better. Also, I carry stress in my neck and back, and Pilates loosens everything up and keeps me flexible."
Recently, the star stumbled upon another way to keep her petite physique in top shape without slaving away at the gym: pole dancing. "I started taking classes with friends as a way to both work out and hang out. You don't realize how much upper-body strength you need!" she says. "It's also a good way to build confidence."
These days she's coupling her commitment to fitness with healthier eating habits too. "When I was [younger], I would eat whatever I wanted," says Emma. "My mom told me to eat healthier, not for the outside but for the inside. A lot of women feel like they have to eat healthy to be skinny, but [for me] it's not about that."
Clearly, her devotion to nurturing both her mind and body has been time well spent. "Emma is obviously gorgeous, but she has this confidence that speaks volumes of her character," says actor Chace Crawford, who acted alongside Emma in the 2010 thriller Twelve. "I can give her a hard time and she can take itÃ¢â‚¬”or give it right back." Looks like the maniac in the Scream mask has his work cut out for him.