If it weren’t for her arresting resemblance to her famous mother (Susan Sarandon), you’d never guess Eva Amurri is a member of the Hollywood-progeny-turned-actor contingent. Her manner is self-deprecating; her speech is affect free and unjaded, and her career thus far is — as it should be for any 23-year-old thespian who took the time to go to college — slowly blossoming. Sure, Amurri made her film debut at age seven in stepdad Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts” and played mom’s bratty daughter in “The Banger Sisters,” but the New York native has very clearly been treading her own path. She majored in Italian studies at Brown University (her father, director Franco Amurri, lives in Italy) and last summer traveled to Namibia as part of the UNA-USA’s HERO initiative. This year, however, her acting is her main focus with no fewer than four films, including April’s “The Life Before Her Eyes” from “House of Sand and Fog” director Vadim Perelman.

GUNS & ROSES: In “Life Before Her Eyes,” Amurri plays Maureen, a born-again Christian who is trapped in a bathroom with her wild child best friend Diana (Evan Rachel Wood) during a Columbine-like school shooting. “To be hysterical and at gunpoint for three days is really emotionally draining. At the end of it I felt like I had just come out of having some sort of illness,” she says of the intensity.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

YING YANG: Maureen is certainly a departure from Amurri’s Mary in the forthcoming “The Education of Charlie Banks.” She was midshoot on the latter while auditioning for “Life Before Her Eyes” and part of the appeal was the 180 she’d have to pull in doing the two films back to back. “I’m a daughter of a politician who is, I wouldn’t go so far as to call her a slut, but she’s figuring out who she is and that definitely seems to manifest itself physically,” says Amurri of Mary. So which role came more naturally for her: good girl or bad girl? “I tend to find the quieter, more reserved parts harder because I feel very comfortable being the more aggressive, audacious character,” she admits.

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL: Although she certainly has an affinity for fashion (“I’m pretty girly — I like to dress up”), Amurri’s real passion is sprucing up her new West Village pad, with help from her friend, designer Chris Benz. “We go to all those flea markets on the weekends,” she enthuses. “If I could I would decorate other people’s apartments also.” It’s not the first time the actress has toyed with an alternate profession. “When I was seven I told my parents I wanted to be a farmer,” she laughs. “And then I wanted to be an astronaut and realized you had to have math skills to do that, so those two things sort of went out the window.”