Last May, at the Cannes press conference for Woody Allen's new film, all the talk was of Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson, until journalists started to ask, "Who's the English actress?" That actress is Rebecca Hall, and she comprehensively steals the show in Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She plays an uptight American abroad, and her spiky performance has earned her a nomination in the forthcoming Golden Globes. Cannes exposure was a heady experience for 26-year-old Hall, but it wasn't her first screen success. She made her film debut in the 2006 Britcom Starter for 10, then made a strong impression in The Prestige.
The daughter of Sir Peter Hall and the opera singer Maria Ewing, Hall is sceptical about being tipped as a face of 2009: "I've been on 'next' lists for the past five years." But it's hard to imagine Hall being anything other than extremely visible next year. She'll also be seen in Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon; in a new version of Dorian Gray; and in a Channel 4 adaptation of David Peace's brutal Red Riding murder novels.
Much of Hall's year will be spent on stage: she is taking part, with a company including Ethan Hawke and Simon Russell Beale, in the Bridge Project, a marathon initiative that will tour Sam Mendes' productions of The Cherry Orchard and A Winter's Tale. "It's kind of crazy but exciting, and illuminating – how the plays resonate with each other is endlessly fascinating."
Hall is taking a break from filming for a while: the Bridge Project will keep her busy up to August. How will she sustain her energies through all that? "Ask me in a couple of months," she laughs. "I've got no idea."
'Frost/Nixon' is released on 23 January; 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' on 6 February. The Bridge Project opens at the Old Vic in May.