Brit Marling Lead
Credit: David Alfons Wilhelm Bornscheuer

Brit Marling may look right at home in the clean-lined Céline and Marni dresses that she sports in our October issue, but the exciting young actress isn't afraid to get a little down and dirty either.

In her latest film, The Keeping Room, Marling chops wood, shoots guns, and rides horses, as a Civil War-era heroine who is fighting to defend herself and her sister (Hailee Steinfeld) against two rogue soldiers from the Union Army. It's a Western with a refreshingly feminist point of view. But that also meant that the actress had to step out of her comfort zone to capture her character's rugged ways.

Brit Marling Embed 1
Credit: David Alfons Wilhelm Bornscheuer

"When I was cast in this part I didn't want someone else to chop the wood or ride the horses, so I went to a stunt coordinator in the Valley who specializes in those old-timey skills," she says. "I learned how to shoot a black powder rifle, how that smells, and how the kickback feels. It was intense to think of a young woman at that time doing this sort of thing."

Just as intense? Some of the movie's gritty fight scenes that pit Marling against Sam Worthington, who plays one of the baddies. "I think it's surprising to see young women fight back in ways that are physically possible," she says. "And nothing happens in these scenes with CGI or any sort of movie magic."

See more on Brit Marling in the October issue of InStyle, on newsstands now and available for digital download.

Watch the trailer for The Keeping Room below.