As she prepares to hop a flight to Las Vegas for a Memorial Day weekend of premieres, parties, and pampering, Lauren Maher can only sit back and laugh at the whirlwind of a ride that her life has taken over the years.
"Hopefully, it will make me feel like I made the right choice," the young actress says, laughing as she awaits her trip to Sin City. "I can remember once living in some sort of basement studio in Queens and everybody thinking this was a great deal!"
Aw, the life of every actor, it seems. From rags to riches, you might say, particularly when you happen to strike gold in one of the biggest blockbuster projects of all time — the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. Maher, along with fellow actress Vanessa Branch, play two of Captain Jack Sparrow's favorite wenches. They have seen their roles steadily increase with each adaptation, the latest of which, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," is currently kicking off the summer film season.
Raised in Boca Raton, FL, Maher remembers catching the acting bug very early on. "I just started doing plays in high school, and loved it so much that I started doing community theater," she recalls. "I was pretty aware early on that I wanted to go to college for theater."
She did just that, enrolling at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, despite the pleas from her parents to remain close to home. "I wasn't having any of that," a laughing Maher says of going against her parent's wishes. "I knew that I wanted to go to New York, and that's really the place to go in the States to study theater."
In the midst of achieving her degree in theatre arts, Maher would also spend time studying at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York City.
"It just gave me a nice, big tool kit to use," explains Maher, who has also studied at Richmond College in London. "Just living in a place like New York City — you have so much access to the theaters, the museums, the art galleries, and the concerts, that you learn so much just by being there. It just adds to your life experience, and I think that the more life experience that you have as an actor, the better actor you can be. You have more to draw from."
Tired of blizzards and New York winters, Maher would eventually shuttle out west to L.A. "When I first moved to L.A., I was still heavily focusing on theatre," she says.
In 2000, Maher and some of her friends helped form WolfPack Production Company, a non-profit theatre company. During that time, she helped to produce numerous Shakespearean plays, as well as works by Sam Shepard and the Firesign Theatre. She remained a part of the team until 2005, when the desire for more film work increased.
"For me, I've always wanted to explore," Maher explains. "I love theater, and I find it more rewarding than anything else, but there's also great films being done out there and great things to learn doing film too. It's just nice to do both."
When she auditioned for the first installment of the trilogy, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," Maher confesses that she wasn't sure what to expect.