Abbie Cornish Discusses Early Romance with Ryan Phillippe

08/13/2009 at 12:30 PM EDT

Abbie Cornish Discusses Early Romance with Ryan Phillippe
Abbie Cornish and Ryan Phillippe
While she may be top-billed in the new movie Bright Star, Australian actress Abbie Cornish first rose to prominence in the U.S. two years ago, when she costarred in the real-life domestic drama involving the then-married Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon.

Cornish, now 27, and Phillippe, 34, met on the set of the movie Stop-Loss, and today they share a home in Los Angeles – "where it was love that brought me here, not work," she tells W magazine for its September issue. "I think the city feels and looks a little bit different because of that.”

While Witherspoon has publicly called divorce humiliating and isolating, Cornish – whom W says was "cast as the culprit" – looks back on the period when the spotlight first fell on her as "a really difficult time for me."

Suddenly, she said, she was forced to enter a realm of paparazzi and tabloid coverage "that I'd never been exposed to. In a normal successful career, someone usually learns these things bit by bit. For me, it was like night and day. I woke up one day and there was this whole new thing I had to process and deal with."

Since then, she has moved in with Phillippe and spends time with his and Witherspoon's two children: Ava, 9, and Deacon, 5.

As for whether or not she's engaged to Phillippe: "No," she answers. Then, when asked if there are plans for their relationship to head in that direction, Cornish says, "I don't know." Following a tense laugh, she suggests to her interviewer, "I think I'm nearly ready to go on to another part of the conversation."

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