That kind of self-deprecation is what helps Thirlby cushion the blow if she doesn't get what she wants, be it a role (e.g. Carole King) or a film that connects with audiences (see "Dredd"). "You can't get too hung up on disappointments," she said about the box-office of the sci-fi remake. That said, she still holds out hope that "Dredd" might get a sequel, because "it would be a total dream to revisit that again, especially if was less like revisiting and more like expanding."
"Dredd" appealed to her because she had always dreamed of being able to play "a really badass butt-kicking kind of chick," she said. "I don't think I'm the world's most die-hard sci-fi fan, but I definitely grew up watching 'Star Trek' religiously -- all of them: the original, 'Next Generation,' 'Deep Space Nine,' 'Voyager.' I think sci-fi has an important place in the cinema world. Fantasy is a big part of why films actually exist."
However, no sci-fi made the list when The Playlist asked Thirlby to pick five of her favorite performances of all time, the ones that inspired her to become an actress. "I had this totally impossible dream of being an actress," she said. "Trust me, just because I'm lucky enough to be doing this doesn't make any of this less of a pipe dream. And nothing gets my juices flowing like a really great performance. To see someone on stage, I get really excited."
Olivia Thirlby's Five Favorite Performances:
"That's the most inspiring of all time," Thirlby said, "because when I watch that film, I find it incomprehensible that I'm watching a performance at all, that it's not a real person."
2. Mark Rylance, the play "Jerusalem."
"I saw this about a year-and-a-half ago," Thirlby said, "and it reinvigorated my love of acting. I felt like I had just been exposed to all the possibilities, the infinite possibilities of making choices."
3. Carey Mulligan, the film "Shame."
"I saw 'Shame' about six months ago," Thirlby said. "And I was really inspired by Carey's performance, because she was so fearless. She's inspired me to try to find a role that I could be as fearless as she was, but I don't know if I'll ever be as good as she is. Plus, I love standards, jazz standards, and I'd love to sing one."
4. Christopher Plummer, the play "King Lear."
"I saw a production of this when I was a teenager," Thirlby said, "and it was really epic. It made me to go the Lincoln Center library and rent to watch every production they've ever done. The Lincoln Center library is very hoity-toity -- you almost have to have a doctor's note to get in, from someone saying it's okay for you to go in and watch a specific thing. So I had my Shakespeare teacher write me a note, because those tapes don't exist anywhere else."
5. Kevin Kline, the play "Much Ado About Nothing."
"Kevin Kline is one of the best actors of all time," Thirlby said. "And he definitely knows how to do Shakespeare. And I feel like this play played a really crucial, pivotal part in my becoming an actor. It was just magical."