Jennifer Leigh

Jennifer Leigh

Her role as Casey Powell in TV movie 'The Best Little Girl in the World' (1981)

Background:

“As an actor, I want to blur everything, fact and fantasy. That’s why I want to
keep my real life private. That way you come with as few expectations and as
little known as possible, so you can believe what you are seeing.” Jennifer
Jason Leigh

One of the leading talents of her generation, who has been named a post-modern
Meryl Streep, Hollywood-born actress Jennifer Jason Leigh has drawn high
critical acclaim and a cult following for her outstanding work in the cinematic
industry although she is not a major “household name.” Initially coming to
prominence as Casey Powell in the television film The Best Little Girl in the
World (1981) and for playing innocent Stacy Hamilton in the hit Fast Times at
Ridgemont High (1982), Leigh further launched her triumphant career during the
1990s with a string of remarkable performances. She was seen as a
self-destructive streetwalker in Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989) and the sweet,
brain-dead waif in George Armitage’s Miami Blues (1990). The roles won her a New
York Film Critics Circle and a Boston Society of Film Critics award. She was
also seen as narcotics cop Kristen Cates in Rush (1991), the psychotic roommate
of Bridget Fonda in Single White Female (1992, netted a MTV Movie award), a
phone-sex operator in Short Cuts (1993, took home a Golden Globe and a Venice
Film Festival award), an acclaimed journalist in The Hudsucker Proxy (1994),
Kathy Bates’ disturbed daughter in Dolores Claiborne (1995), a brainy hijacker
in Kansas City (1996), a plain-Jane heroine in Washington Square (1997), the
favorite daughter of a molesting father in A Thousand Acres (1997) and a sexy
game designer in eXistenZ (1999). During 1994-95, Leigh, who was once named one
of Salon magazine’s “Best Actors in Hollywood,” also received vast recognition
for her spectacular performance as Dorothy Parker in Alan Rudolph’s Mrs. Parker
and the Vicious Circle (1994, received a National Society of Film Critics and a
Chicago Film Critics Association award), and an aspirant
singer-turned-drug-addict in Georgia (1995), in which she was handed a New York
Film Critics and a Montreal Film Festival award. In more recent times, she was
awarded a Tokyo International Film Festival award for her stunning performance
in The King is Alive (2000) and in 2005, she netted a Genie award for her bright
supporting turn in Childstar (2004).

Leigh‘s other memorable projects include The Jacket (2005), Easter Sunday
(2005), Rag Tale (2005) and Lymelife (2005). Fans should not miss her
appearances in the forthcoming America (2006) and the Untitled Noah Baumbach
Project (2007), starring Nicole Kidman.

As for her private life, one of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine “10 Most Beautiful
Women in America” (1989), Jennifer Jason Leigh is married to her boyfriend of
four years, Academy Award-nominated independent film writer-director Noah
Baumbach. Before the marriage, she was linked to Eric Stoltz (lived together for
five years in the 80s), Bruno Kirby and Jason Patric.


Hollywood Girl

Childhood and Family:

Born Jennifer Lee Morrow, on February 5, 1962, in Hollywood, California,
Jennifer Jason Leigh is the daughter of Blackboard Jungle actor Vic Marrow (Born
in 1929, died in a controversial helicopter accident while filming Twilight
Zone: The Movie in 1982) and Barbara Turner, a Polish screenwriter, actress and
producer. Her parents divorced when Jennifer was only two years old. Her mom
later married director Reza Badiyi, but that marriage also ended in divorce.
Jennifer has an older sister named Carrie Ann Morrow, a drug counselor (born in
1958), and is half-sister to Mina Badie, an actress who was born in 1970.

Of Russian descent, Jennifer launched her acting career at age nine when she
landed a non-speaking part in the movie Death of a Stranger. She was trained by
Lee Strasberg in a summer acting workshop five years later, as well as attended
Stagedoor Manor, an acting camp for teens in New York’s Catskill region.
Receiving her Screen Actors membership at age 16, Jennifer decided to drop out
of Pacific Palisades High School six weeks before graduation to pursue acting.
In September 2005, over the Labor Day weekend, the Hollywood native married her
filmmaker-boyfriend Noah Baumbach (born in 1969).


Georgia

Career:

The offspring of Hollywood celebrity parents who was trained at the Lee
Strasberg Institute and Stagedoor Manor, Jennifer Jason Leigh was exposed to the
world of cinema as a child. Working on her first film at age nine with an
unaccredited part in the 1973-released film Death of a Stranger, Leigh earned
her Screen Actors Guild membership in 1977 after making a guest appearance in an
episode of “Baretta.” She soon landed a bigger part in the made-for-TV movie The
Young Runaways in the following year. More roles in television films followed,
like Angel City (1980), I Think I’m Having a Baby (1981) and The Killing of
Randy Webster (1981), but it was the ABC film The Best Little Girl in the World
(1981) that won Leigh her first notice as Casey Powell, a teen girl who suffers
from anorexia. The same year, she landed her first speaking part on the
wide-screen in the low-budget horror flick Eyes of a Stranger.

Leigh won even more attention in the following year with her breakthrough
performance as Stacy Hamilton in Amy Heckerling’s popular high-school comedy
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). The hit film helped launch Leigh’s career,
as well as several other then-nameless stars, including Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage,
Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz and Phoebe Cates.

After the critical-acclaimed movie, the actress continued taking on roles in
both TV and film. She was seen in such movies as Easy Money (1983), Grandview,
U.S.A. (1984), Flesh & Blood (1985), The Hitcher (1986), The Men’s Club (1986),
Under Cover (1987), Sister, Sister (1987), Heart of Midnight (1988) and The Big
Picture (1989), and television films like The First Time (1982), Girls of the
White Orchid (1983) and Picnic (1986). In 1990, Leigh won a New York Film
Critics Circle and a Boston Society of Film Critics award for Best Supporting
Actress for her outstanding acting as gang-raped hooker Tralala in the 1989
courageous drama Last Exit to Brooklyn, opposite Stephen Lang, and sweet,
brain-dead orphan Susie Waggoner in Miami Blues (1990, starring Alec Baldwin), a
crime-thriller directed by George Armitage.

During the 90s, the versatile young actress concentrated on film work although
she still managed to appear on the small screen with appearances in the
television movies Buried Alive (1990), Thanks of a Grateful Nation (1998) and
CBS’ The Love Letter (1998, rejoined Campbell Scott). She also did voice-overs
in such show as “Spawn,” “King of the Hill,” “Hercules,” and “Superman.” On the
silver screen, Leigh was cast in the Ron Howard blockbuster Backdraft (1991),
Crooked Hearts (1991), The Prom (1992) and gave a memorable turn as
drug-addicted undercover cop Kristen Cates in Rush (1991). She gained further
recognition for portraying Bridget Fonda’s psychotic roommate in Barbet
Schroeder’s Single White Female (1992), in which she took home a 1993 MTV Movie
award for Best Villain. In 1993 she scored another success with her fine
supporting turn as bothered young mother/phone-sex operator Lois Kaiser in the
Robert Altman-helmed Short Cuts, for which she was handed a Golden Globe and a
Venice Film Festival for Best Ensemble Cast.

Following another memorable performance in the Coen brothers’ The Hudsucker
Proxy (1994), where she was cast as an award-winning journalist who secretly
romances the new president of a company, Leigh once again drew accolades when
director Alan Rudolph had her star alongside Campbell Scott in the biography
film Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994). As Dorothy Parker, Leigh was so
impressive that she netted a National Society of Film Critics and a Chicago Film
Critics Association for Best Actress. In addition, she was nominated for a
Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. In
1995, Leigh’s strong portrayal of a drug-addicted singer wannabe in Georgia won
the Year’s Best Actress from the New York Film Critics and the Montreal Film
Festival. In the drama film, which was written by her mother and heavily based
on her sister’s battle with drug addiction and self-image, Leigh also served as
a co-producer and sang.

Her significant performances in the 1990s included Kathy Bates’ troubled
daughter Selena in the Stephen King chiller Dolores Claiborne (1995),
sharp-witted hijacker Blondie O’Hara in Altman’s jazz tribute Kansas City
(1996), Anney Boatwright in Anjelica Huston’s directorial debut Bastard Out of
Carolina (1996), a plain-Jane heroine falling for an attractive gold digger in
the film version of Henry James’ Washington Square (1997) and computer game
designer Allegra Geller in the David Cronenberg fantastic sci-fi drama eXistenZ
(1999), with Jude Law. In the 1997 drama A Thousand Acres, where she costarred
with Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer, Leigh won a Verona Love Screens Film
Festival for Best Actress due to her brilliant portrayal of Caroline Cook, the
daughter of a molesting father (played by family friend Jason Robards).

In 2000, Leigh once again proved she was a talented actress by picking up a Best
Actress at the Tokyo International Film Festival for her bravura performance in
The King Is Alive (2000). Next up, she starred in Skipped Parts (2000) with Brad
Renfro, was featured in The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) and The Quickie (2001),
played Tom Hanks’ doomed wife in Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition (2002), Meg
Ryan’s viciously murdered sister in the Jane Campion-directed In the Cut (2003),
was cast as Christian Bale’s hooker girlfriend in The Machinist (2004) and
appeared in Todd Solondz’s Palindromes (2004). She also won a Genie for Best
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her role on Childstar (2004).
In 2001, she teamed up with Scottish actor Alan Cumming to write, direct and
produce The Anniversary Party, where she also starred alongside real-life
Hollywood friends Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals,
John C. Reilly and Parker Posey. For her effort in this well-received ensemble
comedy, Leigh and Cumming received a nomination at the National Board of Review
for Excellence in Filmmaking, and Independent Spirit nominations for Best First
Feature and Best First Screenplay.

2005 saw Leigh appear as Dr. Beth Lorenson, opposite Adrien Brody and Kris
Kristofferson, in The Jacket (2005), a mother in Easter Sunday (2005), Mary
Josephine ‘MJ’ Morton in Rag Tale (2005) and Brenda Bartlett in Lymelife (2005).
She is also scheduled to play roles in the upcoming America (2006) and an
Untitled Noah Baumbach Project (2007, also starring Nicole Kidman).

Also a trained-stage actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh, who made her debut
appearance in a 1972 play “Man of Destiny,” recently announced her departure
from Abigail’s Party Off-Broadway to work with husband Noah Bumbauch in his
forthcoming film. She has also appeared in such plays as the Off Broadway
“Sunshine” (1989), “Cabaret” (1998, with Alan Cumming) and “Proof” (2000).


Awards:

Genie: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Childstar,
2005
Taormina International Film Festival: Diamond Award, 2001
Tokyo International Film Festival: Best Actress Award, The King is
Alive, 2000
Verona Love Screens Film Festival: Best Actress, A Thousand Acres, 1999
Montreal Film Festival: Best Actress, Georgia, 1995
New York Film Critics: Best Actress, Georgia, 1995
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actress, Mrs. Parker and the
Vicious Circle, 1994
Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Mrs. Parker and the
Vicious Circle, 1994
Golden Globe: Special Award - Best Ensemble Cast, Short Cuts, 1994
Venice Film Festival: Best Ensemble Cast, Short Cuts, 1993
MTV Movie: Best Villain, Single White Female, 1993
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Supporting Actress, Miami Blues and
Last Exit to Brooklyn, 1990
Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, Miami Blues and
Last Exit to Brooklyn, 1990
I used to hang out by the food table at parties because you don't have to talk to anybody. If you do then you can talk about the food.More Jennifer Leigh quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I like a movie that the audience actively has to participate in, and not just casually observe. Whatever my part in it, just as an audience member, I find that exciting.More Jennifer Leigh quotes [07/30/2011 05:07:03]
People equate success with youth. And if you haven't had a certain amount of success by a certain time in your life, it's never going to happen. There's a fear about that. So people start lying about their age really young. I've never done that because I think it's so insignificant.More Jennifer Leigh quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
You know, you really do choose your existence in a way.More Jennifer Leigh quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
Writing, producing and directing, I must say, is incredibly satisfying and gratifying.More Jennifer Leigh quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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