Jennifer Jason Leigh

     
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Real Name: Jennifer Leigh Morrow
Birthday: 1962
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, CA

 

Biography And Filmography:

Best known for playing what critics would call "sluts and nuts,” Jennifer Jason Leigh lovingly refers to the hookers, drug addicts and head cases she has played as a group of defenseless, hurt women she is excited to get to know on-screen, but thankful she doesn't come across in real life. A multitalented young actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh has talent and sincerity, which has made her one of the leading talents of her generation.

She first won attention as Casey Powell, the anorexic teenager in the television-movie "The Best Little Girl in the World" (1981), and made her feature film introduction as a young sexy teen who gets an abortion in Amy Heckerling's comedy "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982). Despite good reviews for "Fast Times", it was eight years before her next big role, as the prostitute Tralala in Ulrich Edel's "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1990). Her performance was followed by two more films in which she played weak women with hidden strength in "Miami Blues" (1990) with Alec Baldwin, as a prostitute, and "Rush" (1991), as a narcotics cop who becomes a drug addict.

Leigh portrayed yet another disturbed character in Barbet Schroeder's "Single White Female" (1992). As Heddie, Jennifer changed herself from a supportive woman into the radiant roommate from hell who tries to overtake Bridget Fonda's identity. She followed with the small role of a woman who works as a phone sex operator from her home in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" (1993) with Robert Downey Jr. In the Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994), where she played an award-winning journalist who goes undercover and romances the new president of a company. Jennifer's unusual interpretation of writer Dorothy Parker in Alan Rudolph's "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" (1994) won her praise as the year's best actress from the National Society of Film Critics and the Chicago Film Critics Association but not the hoped for attention from the Academy Awards. 

In 1995, Leigh was hired and cast for "Dolores Claiborne" as the title character's disturbed daughter, and then as a drug addict singer in "Georgia" where her character was scripted by her mother, Barbara Turner, and was supposedly based on her older sister. She moved into lighter territory in 1997 playing a heroine loving drug addict who falls in love with a beautiful gold digger in "Washington Square". Her take on the part was different than Olivia de Havilland's version in the 1949 film "The Heiress", which was also based on James' book, in that her performance is much more subdued and her timid, guiltless character takes a spiritual journey to independence that is different from the one de Havilland takes. She followed with the warm romantic television movie "The Love Letter" (1998).  She played a forlorn, young Civil War woman who builds a fixated correspondence with a man who lives in the 20th Century via a magical desk. Unlike most of her movies, this one had a happy ending.


The actress returned in 1999 for the part of the depressed nightclub performer Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of "Cabaret" opposite Alan Cumming. The following year she starred as a lonely computer game designer who is more comfortable playing a character in a game than she is dealing with people in real life in "eXistenZ" (1999) with Jude Law. 

Jennifer Jason Leigh continued throughout 2000, appearing in "The King Is Alive" which dealt with a group of passengers on a broken down bus who pass the time by staging "King Lear". She went on to play an unhappy married woman whose affair with a Native American raises questions in "Skipped Parts" (2000) with Drew Barrymore and Mischa Barton. Leigh then took on a very large-scale project with Alan Cumming in the comedy-drama "The Anniversary Party" which looks at what happens when a newly reconciled couple throws an anniversary party that quickly declines into a drug induced telling of the couple's problems. The film was shot entirely on digital video and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 2001. Jennifer next returned to her acting full time, appearing in "Road to Perdition" (2002) as Tom Hanks' wife, and director Jane Campion's "In the Cut" (2003), where she played Meg Ryan's sister.

Jason Leigh next appeared in the emotional thriller “The Machinist” (2004) opposite Christian Bale, playing a prostitute and girlfriend of a machinist whose insomnia causes the serious injury of a co-worker. In “Palindromes” (2005), director Todd Solondz’s revolt against abortion activists, fundamentalist Christians and pedophiles, Jennifer was one of eight actors to play a 13 year-old girl who wants a baby, gets pregnant, has an abortion forced upon her, runs away from home, finds a Christian commune full of disabled children and joins a plot to murder her abortion doctor. 


The actress then shed some weight, getting down to 86 pounds for both "The Best Little Girl in the World", and "Georgia" and is famous for the study she does before production. She then played a young television celebrity in "Childstar" (2005) about a conflicted twelve-year-old television star from the United States who runs away from the set while shooting a big-budget film in Canada. The following year Jennifer Jason Leigh starred with Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in the horror film "The Jacket" (2005) where a military veteran goes on a journey into the future, where he can foresee his death and is left with questions that could save his life and those he loves. After "Easter Sunday" (2005), she wrapped the year in the comedy "Rag Tale" (2005) about a romance that plays out in the splashy, sensational world of British tabloids.

The actress then appeared alongside Nicole Kidman in the dramatic comedy "Margot at the Wedding" (2006) about two sisters and the art of pulling off a wedding. She ended the year in the funny "Synecdoche, New York" (2008) with Philip Seymour Hoffman, about a theater director (Hoffman) who struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse as part of his new play.

 

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