Need to Know: Lauren Ambrose

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Why she's on our radar: The 31-year-old redhead voices one of the fierce and furry monsters in Spike Jonze's live-action adaptation of the Maurice Sendak bedtime classic Where the Wild Things Are.

HER SHTICK: The droll spark plug with hair-trigger emotions.

AS SEEN IN: Can't Hardly Wait, Six Feet Under, Cold Souls

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: "I play the monster who looks exactly like me. It's uncanny, actually. You look at the book, and it's like, 'Oh, clearly she's the one with the long red hair parted in the middle.'"

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CRY BABY: Costarring in Broadway's Exit the King opposite Geoffrey Rush, Ambrose blew through boxes of Kleenex. "That character was so overly sensitive that even offstage I had all these giant emotions--once, when I was having dim sum in Chinatown, I asked for water, and when the waiter yelled at me, I burst into tears. You'd think I'd tell him where to go in that kind of situation, but no."

STAR-CROSSED ALTER EGO: Having played both Ophelia and Juliet in New York's Central Park, Ambrose relates most to Romeo's main squeeze: "She is flawed and hopeful, grabs the reins of her life, and is steering toward her doom. I tend to be a little bit like that."

INDIGESTION: "I saw Food, Inc. last night--it was like a horror movie. I'm definitely thinking about my food supply now and how I want to grow my own."

BIG BREAK: "Right now I just want to chill for a while. Take a hiatus from all the craziness. To clean my house, see my family"--she and her photographer husband, Sam Handel, have a 2½-year-old son, Orson. "Just see some movies and pick some strawberries."

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