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Mike Terry, Deseret News
Rebecca Larsen plays the lead role in the Sundance short film, "Our Neck of the Woods."

PARK CITY — Less than 20 minutes. That's all it might take to make the career of actress Rebecca Larsen.

The 27-year-old Utah native is one of the stars of "Our Neck of the Woods," a comedy about the relationship that develops between a manufacturing plant foreman, Bob Underwood (Nathan Johnson), and Elsa, a Soviet Georgian refugee.

The well-received, 17-minute film is one of seven pieces playing in the Sundance Film Festival's Shorts Program IV.

Larsen said she was convinced she wasn't going to get the part of Elsa when she first auditioned for it.

"I had been listening to German-language tapes in my car, and that's all I came prepared with. German and Russian are two completely different things," she laughed.

So imagine Larsen's surprise when her agent "called to say, 'They're interested in having you come back. But they also want to know what was up with that German accent?'"

Luckily for Larsen, "I've got a dark complexion, so I guess I look at least a little bit Russian. I'm sure that helped."

And she says she did have fun exploring the non-romantic friendship between burned-out family man Bob and Elsa. "They're not so different. In a lot of ways they're similar — especially in their hopes and dreams. That was a lot of fun."

While she was raised in Murray and was part of the University of Utah's Actor Training Program, Larsen has been living for the past three years in Los Angeles.

In that time, she's landed some stage roles, as well as bit parts in independent film productions and the television shows "House" and "Veronica Mars."

"I've done a little of everything so far," she said. "My first professional role was in a (credit card) commercial. Until then, my family was telling me they'd understand if I wanted to come home."

But with this particular film, Larsen feels like she "has finally made it."

Still, she's hoping that the film leads to "bigger things" for both her and screenwriter/director Rob Connolly.

In fact, she says she's already benefitted from the experience, simply because the short got into Sundance.

"My agent has been using it as leverage to get me auditions."

For instance, she's already landed a lead role in the psychological thriller "Justify," which will begin shooting in February.

"(The part) probably would have gone to a bigger name if I didn't have the Sundance magic ticket," Larsen said.

Besides, she reports that the "Sundance experience has been so fun and so awesome so far.

"People have been really getting into the movie and enjoying it," she explained. "They're even laughing at some parts of the movie that I didn't laugh at personally. I guess that's good, right?"

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