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Why Rayna Boyanov From Spy Looks So Familiar

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy teamed up for 2015's "Spy," their third collaboration after the Oscar-nominated "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat." The action-comedy grossed over $230 million (via Box Office Mojo) during the jam-packed summer of 2015. Audiences and critics praised the film — it has a whopping 95% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes — for its unique action sequences, inventive plot, and chuckle-worthy humor.

"Spy" focuses on McCarthy's Susan Cooper, a CIA agent stuck on desk duty, who steps up to go into the field after an agent she assists remotely (Jude Law) is murdered by Rayna Boyanov, the daughter of an international arms dealer. Cooper embarks on a European tour to get close to Boyanov, who has access to a portable nuclear bomb. The CIA agent, naturally out of her element, ends up in hilarious and unforeseen situations and forms an odd, but charming, relationship with Boyanov.

Rayna Boyanov, the "Spy" villain turned anti-hero, is played by none other than Australian star Rose Byrne, who has had quite a prolific career. Byrne was popular and recognizable prior to the release of "Spy" but the Feig-directed film cemented her as one of the most beloved comedic actors working today.

Rose Byrne broke through in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones and other sci-fi roles

Before her Hollywood career kicked off, Rose Byrne was a rising star in her native Australia, having appeared in movies like "The Goddess of 1967" and "Two Hands." Things began to shift for Byrne when she bagged a brief role in George Lucas' 2002 film "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones." In the "Phantom Menace" sequel, Byrne appears as Padme Amidala's (Natalie Portman) handmaiden. Though her role is limited, it opened the door for Byrne to become an international movie star.

"Attack of the Clones" was also one of several sci-fi roles that Byrne took early in her career. In 2007, she appeared in Danny Boyle's critical hit "Sunshine." Though the film wasn't a box office darling, it has since become a cult hit, making it one of Byrne's most respected appearances. 2007 also saw Byrne starring in the sequel film "28 Weeks Later," and in 2009, she appeared in "Knowing," which stars Nicolas Cage as a man who unearths a series of papers that accurately predicts major cataclysmic events and their death tolls. In the film, Byrne plays the daughter of Lucinda (Lara Robinson), the girl who originally wrote the predictions in the 1950s.

Bryne moved to a haunted house in Insidious

After conjuring up the "Saw" franchise, director James Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell crafted their own wicked haunted house horror romp with "Insidious." Fellow Australian Rose Byrne co-stars in the film as Renai Lambert, a woman who moves into a creepy new house with her family. As soon as they move in, things get spooky, and her son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma.

As time passes, strange oddities begin to present themselves, with Renai hearing sinister voices and seeing a strange figure in her daughter's room. The family eventually moves to another house but the paranormal happenings follow them. To finally get to the bottom of things, they consult a duo of paranormal investigators (Leigh Whannell and Angus Sampson), as well as a psychic (Line Shaye) who discovers that Dalton has been possessed by a demon.

Released in 2010, "Insidious" proved to be another success for Wan and Whannell, launching a brand new franchise. Byrne, alongside her co-star Patrick Wilson, subsequently appeared in 2013's "Insidious: Chapter 2," which continued the first film's spooky mystery. The sequel may not have been as praised as the first entry but it managed to be another box office success for the Australian star. The duo didn't return for "Insidious: Chapter 3" and "Insidious: The Last Key," as they were prequels, set before the haunting of Renai's family. 

Byrne collaborated with the X-Men in their early days

After scaring audiences with "Insidious," Rose Byrne joined the world of Marvel by appearing as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert in 2011's "X-Men: First Class," which served as an origin story for friends-turned-foes Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Byrne's character plays a pivotal role in making the two iconic characters meet, which ultimately leads to the creation of the X-Men team.

Despite being such an integral part of the "X-Men" origins, Byrne admitted that the film's genre was uncharted territory for her. "I pretty much had to dive in. I knew a little bit, but not much," she told IndieWire. The star admitted that she wasn't familiar with the comics and that she wasn't a fan of them. "It's not my world really. I'm not a comic [fan], I never read comics, I've never been hugely into comic book films," she said. "It was a whole new genre to discover." 

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, "X-Men: First Class" made a splash critically, acting as the perfect reboot for the "X-Men" franchise. Byrne later reprised her role in "X-Men: Apocalypse."

Bridesmaids helped make Byrne a comedy superstar

One genre Rose Byrne has found a home for herself in throughout her career is comedy. The Australian star's first major comedic stint was in the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" spin-off "Get Him To The Greek," where she played pop superstar and Aldous Snow's (Russell Brand) on and off again girlfriend Jackie Q. However, her comedic breakthrough arguably came with Paul Feig's 2011 smash-hit "Bridesmaids," which she appeared in alongside her future "Spy" co-star Melissa McCarthy. Along with the rest of the cast, Byrne received considerable praise for her performance as the pushy and condescending Helen Harris III. 

Harris' dynamic with Kristen Wiig's Annie Walker as two rival bridesmaids vying for the attention of the bride is arguably one of the funniest comedic film duos of the 2010s; who could forget that cringe-inducing engagement party toast showdown? After "Bridesmaids" proved to be a critical and commercial success, Byrne managed to nab a wide array of comedic roles, including supporting parts in "This Is Where I Leave You" and "The Internship." 

The 2014 comedy "Neighbors" provided Byrne with another plum role, this time as frustrated new mother Kelly Radner, who discovers that a rowdy fraternity has moved in next door. The comedy notably features Byrne using her native Australian accent. After the success of "Neighbors," which also starred Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, a sequel was quickly commissioned. "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" sees the Radner family teaming up with Efron's frat boy to tackle an out-of-control sorority house. In between "Neighbors" sequels, Byrne returned to work with her "Bridesmaids" director for "Spy."

Even before Physical, Rose Byrne was a queen of the small screen

One of Rose Byrne's most recent high-profile parts is her lead role on the Apple TV+ series "Physical." However, she was making a name for herself on the small screen long before that. Her first major TV role was in FX's legal drama "Damages," in which she co-starred with Glenn Close. In the series, Byrne played Ellen Parsons, a mild-mannered law school graduate learning the ropes from a shrewd and conniving veteran attorney (Close). The series, which debuted in 2007, landed Byrne two best supporting actress nominations at the Emmys.

In 2020, Byrne returned to the FX family for the limited series "Mrs. America." Starring Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba, and Elizabeth Banks, among many others, the drama debuted to acclaim, with audiences and critics praising the series for its dramatization of the culture wars that dominated America in the '70s. Byrne co-starred as feminist icon and journalist Gloria Steinem.

As for 2021's "Physical." Byrne's performance was largely singled out by critics and audiences as being the best part of the series. Byrne stars as Sheila Rubin, a down-on-her-luck housewife who finds happiness through aerobics classes. The series has proved to be controversial for its portrayal of the depressed Rubin, as well as for its depiction of her self-antagonizing inner dialogue and portrayal of eating disorders. Despite the criticism, the series has since been renewed for a second season (via Variety). 

With appearances across tons of genres, we can't wait to see where Rose Byrne takes us next with her wide range.