Paulson is no household name, but the 33-year-old has kept her cinema-worthy cheekbones and pout busy in stage, screen and film since graduating from Manhattan's High School for Performing Arts. She had her Broadway debut in "The Sisters Rosensweig" and most recently graced New York's floorboards in 2005's revival of "The Glass Menagerie." No slouch on the tube, she has stayed in the green with supporting roles in HBO's "Deadwood" and as Matthew Perry's Bible-thumping ex in the now defunct "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." This month, look for her in the Roundabout's production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Crimes of the Heart," directed by Kathleen Turner. Paulson plays Meg McGrath, a failed actress-singer who gathers with her two equally lonely sisters at their grandfather's Southern estate.
"Crimes of the Heart" runs now to April 13 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street.
MARY-LOUISE PARKER The Real Deal
Parker needs little introduction to theatergoers (or TV-watchers, thanks to her role as a pot-dealing suburban mom in the hit series "Weeds"). Ever since her first Broadway role in 1990's "Prelude to a Kiss," the porcelain-skinned actress has captured audiences with her unlikely mix of comedic timing and razor wit. She originated Catherine in "Proof" before Gwyneth Paltrow took a stab at it on screen, made Whoopi Goldberg fall head over heels in the film "Boys on the Side" and tempered her sarcasm as a Mormon wife for the HBO version of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America." It's been nearly four years, though, since Parker, 43, has tread the Great White Way (in 2004's "Reckless"). Next month marks her return in the Playwrights Horizons' production of Sarah Ruhl's "Dead Man's Cell Phone." As the title suggests, Parker's museum worker Jean answers a deceased man's mobile and soon finds herself entangled in his dizzying past life.