Director Joel Schumacher saw Ellison, a pop star in London, on a morning breakfast TV show singing her hit single, “Baby I Don’t Care.” Schumacher promptly cast her as Meg Giry, Christine’s (Emmy Rossum) best friend, in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera.” In the U.K., she’d been previously known for her work on the soap “Brookside” where she played Emily Shadwick, a “real evil character” who got in a lot of trouble. “I was abused by me schoolteacher, me sister was raped. Then I married this guy who was really a bad boy, and he forged credit cards and went on a huge shopping spree and then he went to prison and then our house ended up getting taken over by gangsters and then I jumped out the window and then went into a coma and when I said I wanted to leave the show, I finally died,” says Ellison, all in one breath. “It was very eventful.”
Hometown: Liverpool, England
On the set: “After we ate dinner, we’d have to put our corsets back on, but we’d be sick because they were so tight. In the end, we had to stop eating dinner.”
Favorite Christmas movie: “Home Alone”
Christmas plans: “I’m cooking dinner. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I’ve never cooked a roast dinner before. We’re going to have to eat out.”
What she got her parents for Christmas?: “I bought me mum a Rolex because she’s wanted one for years and years. Me Dad, I’m buying him casual clothes, fleece jackets and jeans. He loves Marks & Spencer.”
“The Incredibles” or “SpongeBob”: “The Incredibles”
White or tropical Christmas: “White, definitely. I couldn’t be on a beach for Christmas. That’d be awful.”
Favorite jeans: Seven For All Mankind
Favorite book: “The Da Vinci Code”
Currently listening to: Green Day
Favorite tabloid: OK Magazine
First actor crush: Tom Cruise in “Cocktail.”
Current actor crush: Colin Firth in “Love Actually.”
This story first appeared in the December 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
— Marshall Heyman
She hadn’t even heard of Fat Albert when she won the female lead of Doris in the big-screen version of the cartoon, which opens Christmas Day. “My mom and grandmother were more excited than I was,” Pratt says. “They bought me the DVDs, and I found that you learn something from every episode.” Aside from films, she stars in two series, UPN’s “One on One” and Disney’s “The Proud Family,” which just became a feature film.
Hometown: Los Angeles
Big break: “Dr. Dolittle,” with Eddie Murphy, when she was 10.
Best/worst thing about having a Christmas movie: “Christmas is my favorite holiday, so I can’t think of anything ‘worst’ about that.”
Favorite Christmas movie: “Santa Claus” with Dudley Moore and John Lithgow.
Christmas plans: “A big family Christmas. My grandpa and uncle came from Louisiana. I got my tree last night.”
What she got her parents for Christmas: Mom: a treadmill. Stepdad: tennis shoes.
Stage or screen: “My mom used to do plays when I was younger. When I was six, I was an extra. Of course, someday I want to be like my mom.”
“The Incredibles” or “SpongeBob”: “The Incredibles.” “I was falling out of my seat.”
Luke Skywalker or Han Solo: “They were both really sexy.”
Currently listening to: A Soulful Christmas, Lloyd, Little John, Southside, Destiny’s Child.
Favorite book: “Catcher in the Rye.”
Favorite jeans: Frankie B., Paper Denim & Cloth.
Favorite tabloid: Us Weekly.
First actor crush: “I’ve had so many…Ryan Phillippe in ‘Cruel Intentions.’”
Current actor crush: Brad Pitt, Usher.
— Marcy Medina
She’s already had parts in “Ned Kelly” opposite Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom, and “Ghost Ship” costarring Gabriel Byrne. But Browning scored her most high-profile role to date — as the orphan Violet Baudelaire in the box-office confection “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” — after submitting a video audition.
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Favorite Christmas movie: “Nightmare Before Christmas”
Best/worst part about having a Christmas movie: “The worst part is having to do a promotional tour so close to Christmas and during the Australian school holidays. The best part is that it’s not a cheesy Christmas movie — it’s something a bit different for kids to see.”
Christmas plans: “Sleeping in, being with family and eating too much.”
What she got her parents for Christmas?: “Nothing yet — I’ve had no time! I’m going shopping this week.”
Screen or stage: “Screen, because with screen you can get a second chance if you make a mistake.”
Role model: “Meryl Streep was such an amazing inspiration to work with. I learned so much from her.”
“The Incredibles” or “SpongeBob”: “‘SpongeBob’ — I’m a big fan!”
Favorite jeans: Sass & Bide
Favorite book: “The Magic Faraway Tree”
Currently listening to: Air, Gomez, Lamb, Faithless
First actor crush: Macaulay Culkin in “My Girl.”
Current actor crush: “There’s no one right now.”
This high school junior nailed the role of Téa Leoni and Adam Sandler’s sensitive daughter, Bernice Clasky, during her audition with “Spanglish” director Albert Brooks. There was only one problem: She wasn’t overweight like her character. So with the determination of Renée Zellweger and a promise that her physician father would oversee her diet, Steele put on 15 pounds and wore fake braces and a fat suit from her neck to her knees for the five-month shoot.
Favorite Christmas movie: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”
Best/worst part about having a Christmas movie: “The best part is it comes out the day we get out for winter break. The whole time it’s out I don’t have to go to school and by the time I go back all the hype of the movie will have died down.”
Christmas plans: “My brother is playing in a squash tournament in Scotland so we’ll be there.”
What she got her parents for Christmas: “I’m making my mom a scrapbook, and I never know what to get my dad.”
Screen or stage: “Right now I prefer stage.”
Role model: “Ever since I was little and saw ‘Hocus Pocus,’ I’ve loved Bette Midler. She has my ideal career.”
“The Incredibles” or “SpongeBob”: “I have to go with ‘SpongeBob’ because I’m loyal.”
Favorite jeans: Seven For All Mankind
Favorite book: “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”
Currently listening to: I recently got into the band Muse and My Chemical Romance.
Favorite tabloid: Us Weekly
First actor crush: John Travolta in “Grease.”
Current actor crush: “I have always loved Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal is getting to be pretty high on the list too.”