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Why Everyone's Talking About Haley Bennett

Haley Bennett at the Girl On The Train premiere in London © Getty Images

No, that's not Jennifer Lawrence you've spotted in the trailer for the big screen adaptation of The Girl On The Train: it's Haley Bennett, a J. Law doppelganger whose career is about leap into the Hollywood stratosphere off the back of critically acclaimed turns in TGOTT and The Magnificent Seven.

With plenty more anticipated projects in the pipeline for the coming months, here's your need-to-know on the rising star...

How old is Haley Bennett?

At the TIFF premiere of The Magnificent Seven © Getty Images

Haley Loraine Keeling was born on January 7 1988 in Port Myers, Florida, meaning that she’s 28 years old. She soon moved to Stow in Ohio with her father, where she spent most of her childhood. Growing up a tomboy, she was taught to shoot guns and drive 4x4s by her dad. Ah, America… She told Vanity Fair in 2014, 'It's so funny because I was always embarassed because I never had any formal training in acting. I basically grew up in the backwoods.'

Her stage persona, Haley Bennett, is derived from her mother’s family name.

Does Haley Bennett sing?

As a talented actress and musician, Haley is something of a double threat. Her film debut came in 2007's Music And Lyrics, in which she starred opposite Hollywood royalty Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore as pop singer Cora Corman. Her vocals appeared on several songs on the film's soundtrack, and she performs during concert scenes, too.

With Music and Lyrics co-stars Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant © Getty Images

Speaking to GQ, Haley revealed that the role came as if from nowhere, explaining that 'before Music and Lyrics I was just doing high school plays and singing in my church choir and my school choir.' Some upgrade, no?

Singing live didn't initially come easily to Haley, though. 'I was so terrified before an audience that I would break out in these ugly red hives, and my lips would quiver at the sight of a word or a song,' she told Interview magazine.

Which movies has Haley starred in?

After Music and Lyrics, Haley appeared in teen comedy College and The Haunting Of Molly Hartley (which also starred Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford), then popped up in dog sob fest Marley and Me.

After a handful of parts, her next role of note came opposite Denzel Washington in action thriller The Equalizer and in sci-fi action flick Hardcore Henry, which paved the way for turns in two of this year's most talked-about films...

Haley in The Magnificent Seven...

Her first blockbuster role of 2016 came in Antoine Fuqua's re-imagining of the classic Sixties western The Magnificent Seven (which is itself a re-make of the Japanese film Seven Samurai - got that?). Haley plays Emma, a woman avenging the death of her husband. For her first meeting with Fuqua, she brought along a home-baked apple pie; her rationale being that Emma wouldn't show up at someone's home empty-handed, so why should she?

Discussing her role with Vanity Fair, she explained, 'It's an adventure film, and Emma is at the centre of it, plotting and taking her revenge. I learned a lot of new things: riding, weaponry, and what it was like to be a frontier woman. I was excited about the aspects of bringing a woman to the forefront and to the front line.'

The film sees Haley reunite with her Equalizer co-star Denzel Washington. She's also joined by Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Matt Bomer and Peter Sarsgaard.

... and The Girl On The Train

As Megan in The Girl On The Train © UNIVERSAL

In the anticipated big-screen adaptation of Paula Hawkins' hugely successful page-turner The Girl On The Train, Haley plays Megan Hipwell, one half of the perfect-seeming couple that lead character Rachel (Emily Blunt) watches from her commuter train.

'I read the book when I was doing The Magnificent Seven because it was all guys, it was seven guys [...] and I picked up the book because it had the word 'girl' in the title,' she told US Today.

Haley Bennett and Jennifer Lawrence © Getty Images

No - the two just look very, very similar indeed. Haley has taken the comparisons in good humour, describing them as 'hilarious' in an interview with GQ. 'People are like, "Hey, Jen!" Or I'll just see people whispering to each other,' she revealed, suggesting an enterprising solution to this case of mistaken identity: 'I'm just gonna start charging for autographs.'

Have her and Jennifer Lawrence ever been seen in the same room, though? 'No [...] I imagine that if we were to stand next to each other we would look absolutely nothing alike, but somehow people just connect us.'

Is Haley married?

Haley Bennett © Getty Images

Nope - and if she were to tie the knot, we probably wouldn't hear about it any time soon. Though the actress regularly uses social media (you can follow Haley on Instagram here), it's to promote her latest projects and bless us with pictures of her adorable menagerie rather than overshare about potential relationships. Instead, Haley prefers to keep her private life just that.

Haley's weight loss for Music and Lyrics

Haley isn't afraid to speak out about the darker side of finding fame on screen: in a recent interview with the Sunday Times, she revealed how she was made to lose 20 pounds for her breakout role in Music and Lyrics, bringing her weight down to a worrying 7.5 stone. 'I was emaciated,' she told the paper, adding 'I looked like I was 100 years old.'

What's next for Haley?

Haley can next be seen on screen in Rules Don't Apply, a romantic drama directed by Warren Beatty, alongside fellow rising stars Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich (aka the man who has just been cast as a young Han Solo in the Star Wars spin-off film). After that, she'll feature in Thank You For Your Service, an adaptation of David Finkel's non-fiction work which tackles post-traumatic stress disorder, following soldiers as they return from Iraq. Also on board are Miles Teller and Amy Schumer. And if she gets bored of showbusiness? 'If acting doesn't work out, I'm going to be a professional chef,' she told the Los Angeles Times. 'You'll see me on Top Chef someday. My Midwestern hospitality needs an outlet, you know?'

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