Jennifer Jason Leigh

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Jennifer Jason Leigh
BornJennifer Leigh Morrow
(1962-02-05) February 5, 1962 (age 52)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Noah Baumbach
(2005–2013; divorced)[1]
Children1 (Rohmer Emmanuel)
ParentsVic Morrow
Barbara Turner
 
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Jennifer Jason Leigh
BornJennifer Leigh Morrow
(1962-02-05) February 5, 1962 (age 52)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1971–present
Spouse(s)Noah Baumbach
(2005–2013; divorced)[1]
Children1 (Rohmer Emmanuel)
ParentsVic Morrow
Barbara Turner

Jennifer Jason Leigh (born February 5, 1962) is an American film and stage actress. She has appeared in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Hudsucker Proxy, Single White Female, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Georgia and Short Cuts. She is also the co-writer and co-director of the film The Anniversary Party, made with fellow actor Alan Cumming.

Leigh has a reputation for playing characters on society's bottom rung, often prostitutes or junkies.[2] She is also known for her intensive method-inspired research into her roles.[3]

Early life[edit]

Leigh was born on February 5, 1962, in Hollywood, California. She is the daughter of actor Vic Morrow and screenwriter Barbara Turner.[2][3] Her parents divorced when she was two.[4] Leigh's birth name was Jennifer Leigh Morrow. She changed her surname early in her acting career, taking the middle name Jason in honor of actor Jason Robards, a family friend. Leigh's parents were Jewish (their families were from Russia and Austria, respectively).[5][6][7][8]

Leigh has an older sister, Carrie Ann Morrow, who was credited as a "technical advisor" in Georgia. Leigh also has a half-sister, actress Mina Badie, from her mother's marriage, who acted alongside Leigh in The Anniversary Party. The director Reza Badiyi was her mother's second husband and was at the time her stepfather.

Career[edit]

Early work[edit]

Leigh worked in her first film at the age of nine, in a nonspeaking role for the film Death of a Stranger (The Execution) (1973). At 14, she attended Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in Loch Sheldrake, New York summer acting workshops given by Lee Strasberg and landed a role in the movie The Young Runaways (1978). She also appeared in an episode of Baretta.

An episode of The Waltons and several TV movies followed, including a portrayal of an anorexic teenager in The Best Little Girl in the World, for which Leigh dropped to 86 pounds (39 kg) under medical supervision. She made her big screen debut playing a blind, deaf, and mute rape victim in the 1981 slasher film Eyes of a Stranger, which she quit school to star in.[3] In 1982, she played a teenager who gets pregnant in the Cameron Crowe-scripted high school comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which served as a launching pad for several of its young stars. While decrying the writing as sexist and exploitative, Roger Ebert was enthusiastic about the acting, singling out Leigh, saying, "Don't they know they have a star on their hands?"[9]

With the exception of Ridgemont High and a small role in the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Easy Money, Leigh's early film work consisted of playing fragile, damaged, or neurotic characters in low-budget horror or thriller genre films. She played a virginal princess kidnapped and raped by mercenaries in Flesh + Blood (1985), an innocent waitress pursued by the psychopathic title character in The Hitcher (1986) (both films pitting her opposite Rutger Hauer), and a young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown in Heart of Midnight (1989).

1990s[edit]

In 1990, Leigh made a significant career breakthrough when she was awarded New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress[10] and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress[11] for her portrayals of two very different prostitutes: the tough streetwalker Tralala who submits to a brutal gang rape in Last Exit to Brooklyn, and Susie, a teenage prostitute who falls in love with ex-con Alec Baldwin in Miami Blues. Roger Ebert included Last Exit in his list of Best Movies of 1990, calling Leigh's performance brave,[12] though his review of Miami Blues was much less sympathetic, simultaneously criticizing Leigh's ability to play dumb roles and praising her ability to play smart roles.[13] Entertainment Weekly, in a backhanded compliment, called her "the Meryl Streep of bimbos".[14]

Leigh was then cast in her first mainstream Hollywood studio film, the firefighter drama Backdraft, in which she played a more conventional role, the girlfriend of lead actor William Baldwin. Leigh found more success in the gritty crime drama Rush (1991), portraying an undercover cop who becomes a junkie and falls in love with her partner, played by Jason Patric. Her next film, Single White Female (1992), was a surprise box-office success, bringing Leigh to her largest mainstream audience yet, portraying a mentally ill woman who terrorizes roommate Bridget Fonda. Leigh was awarded the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain[15] and nominated for Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress. Leigh costarred with Kathy Bates as a tormented, pill-popping woman hiding a history of childhood sexual abuse in the adaptation of Stephen King's novel Dolores Claiborne (1995).

Leigh achieved her greatest acclaim in the role of Sadie Flood, an angry, drug-addicted rock singer living in the shadow of her successful older sister (Mare Winningham), in Georgia (1995). For the role, Leigh dropped to 90 pounds (41 kg) and sang all her songs live, including a rambling 8½-minute version of Van Morrison's "Take Me Back". Georgia was met with critical praise. James Berardinelli claimed, "There are times when it's uncomfortable to watch this performance because it's so powerful",[16] while Janet Maslin of the New York Times noted Leigh's "fierce, risk-taking performance and flashes of overwhelming honesty".[17] Leigh won New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress[18] and Best Actress from the Montreal World Film Festival,[19] as well as an Independent Spirit Award nomination.[20] Some expressed surprise that she was not nominated for an Academy Award,[21][22] while Winningham was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Throughout the 1990s, Leigh worked with many independent film directors. She worked with Robert Altman in Short Cuts (1993), playing a phone-sex operator, and Kansas City (1996), as a streetwise kidnapper. Leigh has expressed admiration for Altman and called him her mentor.[2] In a change of pace from her "bad girl" roles, Leigh played the fast-talking reporter Amy Archer in the Coen Brothers’ comic homage to 1930s screwball comedy The Hudsucker Proxy (1994). Leigh took her first lead role as the writer and critic Dorothy Parker in Alan Rudolph's film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994). She received a Golden Globe nomination and a National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress,[23] as well as Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress[24] and Fort Lauderdale Film Critics Best Actress Award. In another radical change of pace, she starred in Agnieszka Holland's version of the Henry James novel Washington Square (1997), as a mousy 19th-century heiress courted by a gold digger. In 1998, she appeared alongside Campbell Scott in the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV film The Love Letter. In David Cronenberg's eXistenZ (1999), she played a virtual-reality-game designer who becomes lost in her own creation.

2000s[edit]

Leigh had a brief role as a doomed gangster's wife in Sam Mendes's Road to Perdition (2002), and costarred as Meg Ryan's brutally murdered sister in Jane Campion's erotic thriller In the Cut (2003). After a long period of avoiding prostitute roles, she played alongside Christian Bale as his prostitute girlfriend in the thriller The Machinist (2004). Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle commented that "As the downtrodden, sexy, trusting and quietly funny prostitute, Leigh is, of course, in her element".[25] Her performance as a manipulative stage mother in Don McKellar's film Childstar won her a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in 2005.[26] After many years of wanting to be in a Todd Solondz movie,[3] she appeared in Palindromes (2004). She also appeared in the psychological thriller The Jacket (2005), alongside Adrien Brody.

In recent years, Leigh appeared in the 2008 ensemble film Synecdoche, New York and has acted in two films written and directed by her then partner Noah Baumbach: Margot at the Wedding, costarring Nicole Kidman, and Greenberg. Leigh has said that the roles were not specifically written for her, as Baumbach does not write roles with actors in mind.[2]

In 2009, Leigh was cast in the Showtime TV series Weeds,[27] becoming a regular guest in the eighth season. She also joined Revenge on ABC, in 2012.[28]

Leigh has received three separate career tributes: at the Telluride Film Festival in 1993,[29] a special award for her contribution to independent cinema from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 2002,[30] and a week-long retrospective of her film work held by the American Cinematheque at Los Angeles's Egyptian Theatre in 2001.[31]

Stage roles[edit]

In 1998, Leigh took on the lead role of Sally Bowles in Sam Mendes's Broadway revival of the musical Cabaret, succeeding Natasha Richardson who originated the role in Mendes's production.[32] She succeeded Mary-Louise Parker in the lead role in Proof on Broadway in 2001.[33] Her other theatrical appearances include The Glass Menagerie, Man of Destiny, The Shadow Box, Picnic, Sunshine, and Abigail's Party. In 2011, she played Bunny in the Broadway revival of House of Blue Leaves in New York City alongside Ben Stiller and Edie Falco.[34]

Writing and directing[edit]

In 2001, Leigh co-wrote and co-directed The Anniversary Party, an independently produced feature film about a recently reconciled married couple who assemble their friends at their Hollywood Hills house, ostensibly to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. As the evening progresses, the party disintegrates into emotional confrontations and bitter arguments as the facade of their happy marriage crumbles. Leigh was inspired by her recent experience filming the low-budget Dogme 95 film The King Is Alive.[35] Leigh and co-writer Alan Cumming drew freely from their personal experiences in the writing of the film.[35] Leigh plays an aging actress who makes jokes about her lack of Academy Award nominations and is fearful of losing her bisexual husband (Cumming). The film was shot in 19 days on digital video,[2] and costarred the pair's real-life Hollywood friends,[35] including Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, John C. Reilly, Parker Posey, and Leigh's sister Mina Badie. Leigh and Cumming jointly received a citation for Excellence in Filmmaking from the National Board of Review,[36] and were nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. The movie received generally positive reviews.[37]

Other work[edit]

Leigh filmed a role in Stanley Kubrick's final film Eyes Wide Shut (1999) as a grieving patient of Tom Cruise's character who declares her love for him after her father's death. Kubrick wanted to reshoot the scenes but Leigh was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with eXistenZ,[38] so Kubrick took the somewhat controversial step of cutting her scenes, recasting and reshooting the role with Swedish actress Marie Richardson.[39]

Leigh was originally cast as Vincent Gallo's girlfriend in his self-directed film The Brown Bunny, and was apparently prepared to perform oral sex on Gallo as the script required. Leigh subsequently commented that "it just didn't work out" and the role was eventually played by Chloë Sevigny.[40]

In 1997, she was featured in Faith No More's music video for "Last Cup of Sorrow".[41]

She was selected as one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women" by Harper's Bazaar magazine in 1989.

Leigh served as a jury member at the 57th Venice International Film Festival in 2000.

Personal life[edit]

In 1982, Leigh's father was accidentally killed when a helicopter stunt went wrong during the shooting of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Leigh and her sister filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Warner Brothers, John Landis, and Steven Spielberg. They settled out of court a year later. The terms of the settlement have never been made public.

Leigh has described herself as shy, introverted, and averse to Hollywood publicity and scandal.[4][42] Speaking about her roles in smaller, independent films, she said, "I'd much rather be in a movie that people have really strong feelings about than one that makes a hundred million dollars but you can't remember because it's just like all the others."[3]

Leigh met independent film writer-director Noah Baumbach in 2001 while starring on Broadway in Proof. The couple married on September 2, 2005. Their son, Rohmer Emmanuel, was born on March 17, 2010. Leigh filed for divorce on November 15, 2010, in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences.[43] She sought spousal support as well as primary custody of the couple's son, with visitation for Baumbach.[44] The divorce was finalized in September 2013.[1]

Filmography[edit]

YearFilmRoleNotes
1973Tod eines FremdenGirl playing with a rubber ballUncredited
1980Angel CityKristy TeeterMade-for-TV Movie
1981Eyes of a StrangerTracy Harris
The Best Little Girl in the WorldCasey Powell
1982Wrong Is RightYoung Girl on Reality Program
Fast Times at Ridgemont HighStacy Hamilton
The First TimeBonnie Dillon
1983Girls of the White OrchidCarol HeathTV
Easy MoneyAllison Capuletti
1984Grandview, U.S.A.Candy Webster
1985Flesh + BloodAgnes
1986The HitcherNash
The Men's ClubTeensy
1987UndercoverTanille Lareoux
Sister, SisterLucy Bonnard
1988Heart of MidnightCarol Rivers
1989The Big PictureLydia Johnson
1990Last Exit to BrooklynTralalaBoston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Miami BluesSusie WaggonerBoston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Buried AliveJoanna GoodmanMade-for-TV Movie
1991BackdraftJennifer Vaitkus
Crooked HeartsMarriet Hoffman
RushKristen Cates
1992The PromLana
Single White FemaleHedra 'Hedy' Carlson/Ellen BeschMTV Movie Award for Best Villain
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
1993Short CutsLois KaiserGolden Globe Special Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Volpi Cup for Best Acting Ensemble
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
1994The Hudsucker ProxyAmy Archer
Mrs. Parker and the Vicious CircleDorothy ParkerChicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
1995GeorgiaSadie FloodMontreal World Film Festival Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress (2nd place)
Dolores ClaiborneSelena St. GeorgeNominated—Chlotrudis Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996Kansas CityBlondie O'Hara
Bastard Out of CarolinaAnney Boatwright
1997Washington SquareCatherine Sloper
A Thousand AcresCaroline CookVerona Love Screens Film Festival: Best Actress (shared with Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange)
1998The Love LetterElizabeth WhitcombHallmark television film
Thanks of a Grateful NationTeri SmallTV movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1999eXistenZAllegra Geller
2000Beautiful View
The King Is AliveGinaTokyo International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Skipped PartsLydia CallahanAlso Co-Producer
2001The Man Who Wasn't ThereFemale inmateUncredited
The Anniversary PartySally TherrianAlso Writer/Producer/Director
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature (shared with Alan Cumming)
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay (shared with Alan Cumming)
The QuickieLisa
2002Hey Arnold!: The MovieBridgetVoice
Road to PerditionAnnie Sullivan
2003In the CutPauline
2004ChildstarSuzanneGenie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Vancouver Film Critics Circle for Best Actress in a Canadian Film
Palindromes"Mark" Aviva
The MachinistStevieNominated—Fangoria Chainsaw Award for Best Supporting Actress (3rd place)
2005Easter SundayMother
Rag TaleMary Josephine 'MJ' Morton
The JacketDr. Beth Lorenson
2007Margot at the WeddingPaulinePeñíscola Comedy Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female
2008Synecdoche, New YorkMariaGotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Independent Spirit Awards: Robert Altman Award (shared with cast and crew)
2009—2012WeedsJill Price-GrayTV series, recurring role
2010GreenbergBethAlso writer/producer
2012RevengeKara Clarke-MurphyTV series, recurring role
2013The Spectacular NowSara
Hateship, LoveshipPost-production
2014Welcome to MeFilming

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Jennifer Jason Leigh is single again after three-year divorce battle". MSN Entertainment. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Tobias, Scott. "Interview: Jennifer Jason Leigh". The Onion A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Williams, Zoe. "What you see and what you get". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 1999
  5. ^ "Actor Eulogized For Finest Performance". The Tuscaloosa News. 1982-07-27. p. 20. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  6. ^ "Age: A State of Mind". San Jose Mercury News. 1992-08-10. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  7. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. p. 504. ISBN 0-7119-9512-5. 
  8. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000492/bio
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "New York Film Critics Circle Awards: 1990". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  11. ^ "Past Award Winner". Boston Society of Film Critics. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Roger Ebert's Best 10 Films of 1990". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Miami Blues". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Gleiberman, Owen. "Movie Review: Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "1993 MTV Movie Awards". MTV.com. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Georgia". Reelviews. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Movie Review - Georgia". New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "New York Film Critics Circle Awards: 1995 Award s". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Wilmington, Michael. "Montreal Festival Honors Grosbard's Film, Star Leigh". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Dretzka, Gary. "Film Nominations Are Independent-minded". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Maslin, Janet. "The Un-Nominated". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  22. ^ Templeton, David. "On Her Mind". Metroactive. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Past Awards". National Society of Film Critics. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  24. ^ "Chicago Film Critics Awards - 1988-97". Chicago Film Critics Association. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  25. ^ Lasalle, Mick. "Despite a skinny star, 'Machinist' retains its weight". SF Gate. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Canada's Awards Database". Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  27. ^ Markovitz, Adam. "Jennifer Jason Leigh joins 'Weeds'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  28. ^ Keck, William. "Keck's Exclusives First Look: Jennifer Jason Leigh Gets Her Revenge". TV Guide. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  29. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Jennifer Jason Leigh Hides Inside Roles". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  30. ^ GOLD, SYLVIANE. "FILM; Ready to Play Anyone but Herself". New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  31. ^ "American Cinematheque Presents... Hearts on Fire: A Tribute to Jennifer Jason Leigh". American Cinematheque. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  32. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Cabaret Resumes B'way Performances Aug. 20". Playbill. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  33. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Jennifer Jason Leigh Is New Star of Proof on Broadway, Sept. 11". Playbill. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  34. ^ Gans, Andrew. "House of Blue Leaves Ends Broadway Run June 25". Playbill. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  35. ^ a b c Lemons, Stephen. "Jennifer Jason Leigh". Salon. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  36. ^ "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards". National Board of Review. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Anniversary Party". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  38. ^ Dretzka, Gary (April 27, 1999). "Hyper `Existenz'". Chicago Tribune. 
  39. ^ Schickel, Richard (August 9, 1999). "All Eyes On Them". Time. Retrieved 2012-10-24. 
  40. ^ Jennifer Jason Leigh - Leigh Would Not Have Shied Away From Brown Bunny Controversy Music, Film and Entertainment News, 2007/11/19
  41. ^ Samborska, Agatha. "Faith No More Frequently Asked Questions". Faith No More Official Website. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  42. ^ Hunt, Chris. "Jennifer Jason Leigh Interview". More. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  43. ^ "Single White Female Star Jennifer Jason Leigh Files For Divorce". RadarOnline. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  44. ^ "Jennifer Jason Leigh Files for Divorce". People. Retrieved November 23, 2010. 

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