Meet Meredith Hagner, Woody Allen's Latest Discovery

The gorgeous actress turns heads in Irrational Man, and has a wanderlust that can't be quenched.
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The gorgeous actress turns heads in Irrational Man, and has a wanderlust that can't be quenched.

Meredith Hagner is ready to ramble.

The North Carolina–bred actress—next seen in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man, hitting theaters July 24—currently resides in Brooklyn’s bustling Williamsburg neighborhood, but she’s always plotting her next adrenaline-pumping getaway. “I just have that curiosity and desire to experience other cultures, and I love to challenge myself to go off the beaten path,” Hagner says.

Take, for example, her recent monthlong road trip across Vietnam. “I hiked a lot in the north and stayed with villagers, and then I tore through the central highlands on the back of a motorcycle for two weeks, which was amazing,” she says.

This summer Hagner is backpacking through California’s Yosemite National Park, after scrapping a planned surfing-and-camping excursion down Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. (“I realized it was going to be 115 degrees, and I was like, I will die.”) Her next stop? “I really want to do India for a month; I want to motorcycle around. There’s something in my brain that’s less fearful when I’m traveling. I really just have a sense of abandon.”

That’s not to say Hagner won’t stay put for the right gigs. She first turned heads with a two-year stint on As the World Turns, then went on to costar in TBS sitcom Men at Work and the USA medical dramedy Royal Pains before appearing on CSI: Miami, The Following, and Louie. Hagner has graced a few indie movies, but Irrational Man—starring Joaquin Phoenix as a tortured philosophy professor romancing one of his students, played by Emma Stone—will be her biggest vehicle yet.

"When you get to work with the director you’ve idolized and adored your whole life, it’s just very special and surreal,” she says. “Woody Allen truly is a genius.” (In case you were wondering, Hagner’s favorite Allen flicks are Annie Hall,Midnight in Paris, and Manhattan, in that order.)

As Hagner takes her career to the next level, she’ll increasingly tap the critical dramatic skills she honed as a young soap starlet. “I can weirdly cry on command,” Hagner says. “You gotta deliver. One of my friends had a trick where she would just stare at the lights until her eyes watered. But I would just go into a dark place.” We’re glad to see she’s come back into the light.

Photos by Pierre Toussaint