AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Medford, Mass.
LATEST GIG: Brittany Murphy's worst nightmare

• Connecting the dots: This is one actress who won't change her spots. "People will add my freckles into a script," says Nicholson, who inspires jealousy in a woman (Murphy) investigating her boyfriend's former flames in the romantic comedy Little Black Book.

• A natural: She wasn't the traditional bombshell envisioned for the role, says producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. "But if she was my husband's ex-girlfriend, I'd be afraid. There's a sweetness and honesty about her, an ability to say, 'Hey, let's go find a rock wall,' or 'Let's go run a marathon.' She's everything I'd freak out about."

• Rustic roots: As a young girl, Nicholson moved to a rural home with her family "to get back to basics," which meant an outhouse and no electricity. The novelty wore off as puberty hit: "I couldn't blow-dry my hair!"

• Model behavior: She started modeling in high school, but was later pressured to lose weight. "I felt everyone was prettier than me," she says. "I never felt worse about myself physically, so I quit." After years of waitressing, she landed parts on Ally McBeal, Presidio Med and ER.

• Next up: Nicholson (no relation to Jack), who lives in L.A. with her fiancé, actor Jonathan Cake, 36, has a role in the movie bio Kinsey, out this November. "I want a career," she says. "I don't need one flashy role that's going to make me a movie star."