WHY SHE'S ON OUR RADAR: The 29-year-old Aussie won us over on FX's addictively wicked law drama Damages, now in its second season, as the guileless protégé to Glenn Close's ball-busting legal eagle.

HER SHTICK: Perennially underestimated, with a porcelain beauty that belies steely determination.

AS SEEN IN: Troy, Marie Antoinette, 28 Weeks Later

FIGHTIN' WORDS: Though she tends to play loyalists, that's about to change for her Damages character, the ambitious lawyer Ellen Parsons. "This season is really Ellen's time to become a warrior. She's working for the FBI, and she's very damaged, but she's covering it up. She's hardened."

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: "I adore working with Glenn. She's obviously got a touch of the maniac. The quality of everything is so important to her. She doesn't back down."

MAIL BONDING: Now based in New York City, Byrne is in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend of four years, fellow Aussie Brendan Cowell. "All forms of contact are good: letters, parcels, e-mails — I've been trying to get a Webcam for my computer, but I'm such a Luddite. I have to go back to Apple's Genius Bar."

COMIC RELIEF: "I'm the youngest of four, and I'm always the clown — making the jokes, wanting attention. My parents were so relaxed by the time I was growing up that I got away with a lot more."

DON'T LOOK FOR HER AT COMIC-CON: Byrne scoffs at her geek cred, which she earned playing Natalie Portman's handmaiden in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. "I wouldn't call it a role; I'd call it an extra."

ROUND UP "I've already started saying that I'm 30 when I'm still 29. That way, I'm already there."

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