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The Versatile Minnie Driver

Her ability to cultivate accents makes Minnie Driver seem anything but alien in her numerous and varied film roles.

From Circle of Friends, in which she affected an Irish brogue, to Big Night, in which she played an American, Driver has exhibited a remarkable ability to blend in perfectly with her surroundings.

In her latest film, The Governess, the British actress plays Rosina Da Silva, a Sephardic Jew in 1840s London who must help support her family by taking a position in Scotland as a governess. All the while, she hides her Jewish identity to avoid being dismissed from the job.

The experience of being "alien" is one Driver can relate to as an Englishwoman living in Los Angeles.

"You don't really have reference points culturally with which to ground yourself," she says of her life in the United States. "Like one's experiences of one's parents talking about the (Second World) war here is quite different from my parents talking about the war in England. There is a different set of references. You have to work very hard to maintain a sense of self when you don't have people around you that are your people."

The middle of five children, Driver, 27, attended Bedales, a Hampshire, England, boarding school from the ages of 6 to 18. She credits its well-rounded curriculum (``a place where you could play musical instruments, learn yoga, milk cows'') with helping shape her self-confidence enough to pursue an acting career.

In the meantime, the best-supporting actress nominee for Good Will Hunting continues to beguile audiences with her film work and is now producing projects under the auspices of Two Drivers, the Los Angeles-based production company she formed with older sister, Kate.

Written by Kathleen Sampey