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Normality means living next to the hospital where her husband, a surgeon, works; caring for a two-year-old son and reading scripts, not being hounded by press or fans. "I’ve never had a profile done in terms of my personal life or my personality," she says. But McElhone has also dodged the spotlight by playing a range of different roles.
"I think that confuses people," she says. "They never recognize me."
She did, however, catch the eye of filmmaker James Ivory, who saw her in London’s Shakespeare in the Park years ago and cast her opposite Anthony Hopkins in "Picasso." Since then, she’s appeared opposite Brad Pitt in "The Devil’s Own," Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show," and Robert DeNiro in "Ronin." She’ll appear next on screen as Henry VIII’s mistress, Mary Boleyn, in "The Other Boleyn Girl," which McElhone just finished filming. "I play Mary, who was the king’s lover first until Anne usurped her position. Eventually, she ended up as their serving maid," she says. "I think I have to do a comedy next."
But constantly changing her on-screen persona has not only thrown off potential fans, it has affected McElhone’s own style.
"My style’s much more fluid because as an actress, you’re constantly changing your image. I am really affected by what part I am playing." For example, in "City of Ghosts," which will come out next spring, McElhone played a Bohemian chick living in Cambodia and spent her off-set time shopping the Russian market for sarongs and tie-tops.