• Image about rose-byrne-glenn-close-x-men-first-class-americanway
© Lee Broomfield/Corbis Outline

Whether she’s taking criminals to task on the small screen or mingling with mutants on the big screen, Rose Byrne is one fierce female.

As tortured rookie lawyer Ellen Parsons on Damages — which heads to DirecTV next month for its fourth season — Rose Byrne has transformed from the white-knuckled newbie to a feisty fighter. This month, the Aussie actress puts those newfound butt-kicking skills to good use in X-Men: First Class. She gives us her take on her busy lineup and surprisingly low-key life offscreen.

On her role in last month’s Bridesmaids: “They say, ‘Always a bridesmaid …,’ but I’ve never actually been a bridesmaid. Still, we all know what it’s like: It’s a competition. There’s always the one who needs to be the center of attention. Working with director Paul Feig (Freaks and Geeks) and Kristen Wiig was a real education in comedy for me. I loved it.”

On working with Glenn Close on Damages: “I was really scared when I first started working with her. I mean, it’s Glenn Close! You’d think there was that whole mentor-mentee thing going on, but she’s just so warm and fun, it’s not like that at all. There’s no pretention to her. She really knows how to hang out and have a good time.”

On the pluses of being powerless: “In X-Men, I play geneticist Dr. Moira MacTaggert, who is totally down with the mutants but doesn’t actually have superpowers. That was sort of a bummer, but shooting the film was a grand adventure. I did a lot of running in heels, which can be exhausting, but luckily I didn’t have to spend hours in the makeup chair like some of the cast.”

On staying focused: “There’s always some magazine or website calling you the next big thing. It’s been happening for years. I just try to keep my head down and focus on the work. Hollywood will eat you alive if you let it. But you can float under the radar in New York City, which is what I love about it. Nobody bats an eye.”