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With 'Thor: The Dark World,' Kat Dennings hammers out a new phase

Kat Dennings is having a moment -- it's just not the moment she might have predicted.

On Monday night -- just as her television show "2 Broke Girls" was airing on CBS -- the actress walked the red carpet to promote her new movie "Thor: The Dark World." A few hours later, it was announced that she and her sitcom costar Beth Behrs will host the upcoming People's Choice Awards, that big barometer of the American mainstream.

That Dennings, 27, has become a go-to girl in all kinds of broad entertainment is more than a little unexpected. Just five years ago she was viewed as an indie world reliable, one on a short list of Manic Pixie Dream Girls, as the old meme goes. After starring in, and receiving good reviews for, the low-budget romance "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" in 2008, Dennings seemed on the road to plenty more festival quirkfests.

PHOTOS: 'Thor: The Dark World' Los Angeles premiere

But her career took a different turn. After a couple of forgettable parts, in the spring of 2011 Dennings landed on movie screens as Natalie Portman's scientist sidekick in the superhero blockbuster "Thor." A few months later she popped up on TV as the sassy Max on CBS' "2 Broke Girls," a populist hit on the most populist of networks, and a far cry from the Sundance shoegazers of her early 20s. She's been a mainstay of prime-time television ever since.

And starting Friday, she'll reprise her role as Darcy in the new "Thor" picture.

How has Dennings responded to this surprise turn in the road? By making some choices she never thought she'd have to make, for one thing.

"I can't do anything," she said referring to her restrictive sitcom schedule, which has her shooting for the better part of nine months. "It's always funny when [filmmakers] are like, 'Let's do something fun. We could figure something out!' But it's like, 'For when? With what time?'," Dennings added as she stood outside Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre on Monday before the premiere of the "Thor" sequel.

That A-list schedule will continue. If "The Dark World" is a hit at the box office -- and it almost certainly will be -- the actress will likely be locked into a third "Thor" film in the near future. 

But she's still trying to carve out some space outside of commercial Hollywood.

"I did an indie film over my last summer break which was really fun, and it kind of felt like coming home," she said, an apparent reference to the supernaturally themed indie “Suburban Gothic,” in which she plays a tough-minded small-town bartender. "On the Marvel films, we’re all really close and good friends. But going to another big film where I didn’t know anyone would feel a little bit daunting at this point."

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amy.kaufman@latimes.com

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