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Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley at the 2013 Gotham Awards | Paula Schwartz Photo

The awards show carousel picked up speed last week with the Gotham Awards. Over the next three months there will be a dizzying round of receptions, screenings and award presentations where the elite class of filmmakers and actors rub elbows, glide down red carpets, and field questions pelted by journalists behind velvet ropes.

It’s also an awesome opportunity for photo ops with beautiful and spectacular actresses, many of them just taking off in their careers. Here’s a recap of some highlights from the red carpet, where I spoke with and took photos of Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson and Kathryn Hahn.

Kathryn Hahn
Kathryn Hahn at the 2013 Gotham Awards | Paula Schwartz Photo

Kathryn Hahn, who steals every scene she’s in, gets better and better in every movie. (Wait until you see her in Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”!) She’s usually a supporting player, but she received a Breakthrough Actor nomination for her star turn in “Afternoon Delight.” She looked elegant, leading-star ready in a black vintage Geoffrey Beane gown.

On the red carpet, she told me she had no illusions about winning that night. (The award later went to Michael B. Jordan for “Fruitvale Station”.) When I told her Jennifer Lawrence lost in that same category two years earlier for, Hahn laughed, “Good. That’s good. I’m in good company, very good company, ‘Hunger Games.’”

She was thrilled about her nomination and the recognition for “Afternoon Delight,” made on a dime. “There’s so much love in this movie. We did it in 3 1/2 weeks in my minivan, one restroom for a gazillion people.  It was a very, very, very tiny budget but just to all of a sudden be standing here is like, ‘What?’”

Brie Larson
Brie Larson at the 2013 Gotham Awards | Paula Schwartz Photo

Brie Larson, nominated for best actress for “Short Term 12” – which she won in a surprise upset over Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine” – told me how she found her way into the role of Grace, a social worker with issues, who works in a home for disadvantaged teenagers.

“I started with shadowing someone at a foster care facility and then really just spending a lot of time thinking about it, observing others and trying to trust that thinking thoughts in your head can actually be very moving onscreen in a way I hadn’t explored yet. It’s like learning a new language.”

In the pressroom after her win, she was still processing it all. “I’m completely shocked. I should have prepared something. I’ve never won anything like this, so this is amazing,” she said, cradling her glass trophy.

I asked what she thought this would do for her career. “I have no idea. I can barely understand what just happened, so I can’t place it other than I thought I’d be able to breath after the award was given out, but instead, I can’t breath even more.” (She is up next in “The Gambler” co-starring Mark Wahlberg, she told me.)

Larson, who is also a singer, told me she was finishing up a CD and described it by saying, “It’ll be fun to dance to.”

Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley at the 2013 Gotham Awards | Paula Schwartz Photo

Shailene Woodley, Best Actress nominee for “The Spectacular Now,” was the “It” girl in a modern Calvin Klein dress with a metallic mesh top. It took a moment to recognize her with her new short do.

“The Descendants” star is about to become a big action star in the dystopian juggernaut “Divergent,” about a teenager with an independent streak, whose life is threatened by a ruthless dictator.

“The Spectacular Now” is a $1.5 million indie, and when asked about how working on that compared to being in a $90 million blockbuster, Woodley replied, “I’d never done a big movie like that before. I love indies because you break your back for a very short amount of time and then your back again to try to get it sold. It’s definitely something that has to come out of passion.”

She added, “And the cool thing about ‘Divergent’ is that the passion is there to begin with. Everybody already had the passion. You really didn’t have to fight for anything so instead you’re fighting for authenticity. You’re fighting for truthfulness in this sort of big world, which is sort of the opposite of what indie film making was, so that was really good to learn, but I have a whole new appreciation for green-screen actors. It’s way harder than acting with a human being.

Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley at the 2013 Gotham Awards | Paula Schwartz Photo

As for being a member of the short-hair brigade, a club that now includes that other action star Jennifer Lawrence, the actress said, “It’s fun.” She actually chopped off her hair months ago for a movie role. The upkeep is more work than she expected.

“Short hair is a pain in the ass compared to long hair because you wake up in the morning and you feel like a peacock,” she said. “And I hate products so I just have to put water in it all the time.”

Still, she is not growing it back anytime soon. “I want to go shorter,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to shave my head, so one day that will happen.”

She told me that prepping for the action scenes in “Divergent” was a process but, “super fun.”

“We had a few months of training from ‘Divergent’ coaches, and it was more hand to hand combat and shooting,” she said. “The interesting thing about action scenes in movies is that they’re all so choreographed it’s more like dance. It’s more like a routine. It’s memorization versus like actual coordination.”

When asked if she had any trepidation about the crazy fandom that may follow with being a big-action star, the down to earth 22-year-old replied, “I can’t think about it. I think that if you think about it, you might go crazy. I think that’s when the craziness happens, when you pay attention to it.”

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