Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf
09/04/2009 AT 07:10 AM EDT
Meet Shia LaBeouf
's new leading lady – both on and off screen.
Carey Mulligan, 24, who hails from England, has been spotted cuddling and kissing
star in N.Y.C., where the two have been filming Oliver Stone's Wall Street
sequel, Money Never Sleeps
"They seemed very, very happy," says an onlooker of the couple, who enjoyed a low-key lunch Aug. 23 at a sidewalk café in Greenwich Village. "They were talking, laughing and smiling and seemed very close." Reps for both actors could not be reached for comment.
In addition to her budding romance with LaBeouf, here are five things to know about the British actress as she makes her mark in Hollywood:
1. She got her big break in Pride & Prejudice
Mulligan landed the role of Kitty Bennet alongside Keira Knightley
with the help of her school headmistress. "I wrote to [her] explaining that I didn't want to go to university and wanted to get in touch with [Julian Fellowes]," Mulligan told the Telegraph
in November 2007. Fellowes, a British actor and screenwriter, became her mentor and tipped her off that director Joe Wright was looking for unknown young actresses for his film.
2. Home for her isn't just one country
Her father, a hotel manager, moved the family when she was 3 from London to Germany, where she discovered a love for acting. "My brother and I were at the International School of Düsseldorf, and they did these amazing, lavish productions," she recalled for the The Independent
. "They did The King and I
, and my brother was cast as one of the little kids. My mother and I went to watch the rehearsals, and I burst into tears because I wasn't in it so the director let me in."
3. She credits Keira Knightley as an acting coach
"I was a real tomboy until was 15 – I didn't have my first kiss until a month away from being 16," she told The New York Times
last month. "So I just copied everything Keira did for weeks. She is still amazing to me." As for her time working Pride & Prejudice
, "[That] was a mad hippie summer – a party every weekend, lots of jumping naked into the lake," she says. "And I ate everything; my face ballooned. I realized catering is a very dangerous thing."
4. She's dealt with plenty of rejection
After boarding school, "I applied to three drama schools and I didn't get in," she told the Times
. When she went on another audition and didn't make the cut, Mulligan found herself in a "confusing time. I was working at my local pub as a barmaid," she says. "I was 18 and I looked 12, and I was serving alcohol to adults." Her mother and father were also hesitant at first about her career choice. "They quite rightly were against my idea of being an actor," she says about her parents, who insisted she attend Reading University in England. "They thought my desire would wear off."
5. Her list of upcoming and previous costars is a who's who of Hollywood
Mulligan, who worked on Public Enemies
with Johnny Depp
and Christian Bale, will next be seen in An Education
with Peter Sarsgaard and Emma Thompson. She also appears in The Greatest
with Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon and Brothers
with Jake Gyllenhaal
and Natalie Portman