Emmy Rossum

01/13/2005 at 06:00 AM EST

Emmy Rossum
"It's something that's always come naturally to me," Rossum says of singing. "Like breathing."
Carmen Valdes/Retna
Emmy Rossum never imagined she had a shot at playing Phantom of the Opera's heroine Christine, being "the youngest and least famous of anybody" up for it. But since nailing her audition in Andrew Lloyd Webber's living room, the 18-year-old New Yorker has been building buzz, costarring in the Jake Gyllenhaal blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow last year, and now competing for a Golden Globe. Rossum recently talked about getting her foot in the door in Hollywood, dealing with fame and still getting turned away from nightclubs.

Phantom is such a big break. How are you handling the fame?
I've always just been happy to be working, and you know, I was working from the time I was 7 (with the Metropolitan Opera), for $5 a night. But I mean, I'm not gonna sit here and say my life hasn't changed. That would just be lying.

So how has it changed?
Like being on the cover of Elle magazine, people recognize you a little more.

What are your friends saying?
It's so surreal for all of them, because none of my friends are movie stars. I still live in New York, I still do my laundry. I'm trying to keep it real. (Laughs)

You're a teen in the public eye. Any Lindsay Lohan-esque moments?
Well, I grew up in a household with very strong ethics and morals. I'm underage, so I don't go to clubs. I tried to get in once and it didn't work, at all. (Laughs)

Are your parents excited for you?
Here's a good story that kind of puts it in a nutshell. I got the call that I got Phantom and I was in total shock. My mom was reading the newspaper, and I said, "Mom, I got Phantom of the Opera! And she looked up and she said, "That's nice, honey!" And kept reading. But it's nice, because they don't tell me what I should do and what movies I shouldn't do.

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