Who is Carré Otis?
Carré Otis is an American model and actor, famous for her classic mannequin-like features and striking beauty. She was one of the most recognizable faces and among the most successful print supermodels in the late 1980s and 1990s. Known for being a high-school runaway, Carré was in the public eye as a fashion and pop-culture poster child since her teenage years. Millions gazed at her in magazine and billboard ads and on the pages of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Sports Illustrated.’ At 20, she was already doing controversial, risqué Hollywood movies such as ‘Wild Orchid,’ opposite future husband, Mickey Rourke. Their troubled marriage and eventual separation became a subject of wide interest in the tabloid world and in mainstream media. Her struggle with alcohol, drugs, and eating disorders, too, were fodder for gossip magazines. She has since opened up about her past publicly and has spoken about the pressures on young women in the modeling and entertainment industry. She has also committed herself to several health-related and social causes.
Childhood & Early Life
Carré Brennan Otis was born on September 28, 1968, in San Francisco, California. She was raised in Marin County, California, alongside her older sister, Chrisse Otis, and younger brother, Jordan. Chrisse later became a modeling agent, while Jordan became an assistant director.
Her father, James Morrow Otis, was an attorney, and her mother, Carol Otis née Dimit, worked as a professional fund-raiser.
She attended ‘Marin Academy’ in San Rafael and later joined ‘John Woolman School’ in Nevada City, California.
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Carré’s modeling career began at the tender age of 16, when she was discovered by John Casablancas in San Francisco, who offered her a contract with the agency ‘Elite Model Management.’ She earned fame while working in Paris, when she appeared on the cover of the French edition of ‘Elle,’ in April 1986.
She became a print icon over the next few years, appearing on the covers of both the American and foreign editions of magazines such as ‘Vogue,’ ‘Harper's Bazaar,’ ‘Cosmopolitan,’ ‘Allure,’ ‘Mirabella,’ and ‘Marie Claire.’ She has walked the runway for ‘Max Mara,’ ‘Dolce & Gabbana,’ ‘Gucci,’ ‘Ermanno Scervino,’ ‘Todd Oldham,’ and ‘Donna Karan.’
In 1989, she auditioned for the role of ‘Emily Reed’ in Zalman King’s erotic drama ‘Wild Orchid,’ opposite Mickey Rourke, which also marked her film debut. She later described it as “a very hard experience,” though it might not have looked that way to the audience. She ascribes her struggle to her being an untrained and inexperienced actor without an agent, shooting a film in a foreign country, and being taken advantage of “on every level.” She later accused King and the producers of sexual harassment and exploitation.
She sued the producers of ‘Wild Orchid,’ the ‘Kruger-Brent Group,’ for selling stills from the film’s final and most explicit sex scene to ‘Playboy’ magazine, without her consent. Images from the scene appeared in ‘Playboy’s June 1990 edition and German magazine ‘Kino’s April 1990 edition. Carré, however, willingly featured in a 2000 issue of ‘Playboy.’
Till the mid-1990s, she appeared in several print and billboard ads for ‘Guess’ and ‘Calvin Klein.’ She was also part of the 1996 ‘Pirelli’ calendar. Later, in 1996, she did another B-film with Rourke, ‘Exit in Red.’ By then, Rourke was her husband.
Her last two films were the unreleased independent feature ‘Simon Says’ (1998) and Sidney J Furie’s war drama ’Going Back’ (2001).
She gradually started rekindling her modeling career while living in Malibu, California, after the end of her much-chronicled episode with Rourke, and became one of the oldest-ever models to feature in the 2000 ‘Sports Illustrated’ swimsuit edition.
She also set out to cure her anorexia nervosa during this period, and as she gained weight in the process, she was offered work as a plus-size model, most notably by ‘Marina Rinaldi’ and ‘MODE.’ She became the brand ambassador for ‘Breil’ jewelry in 2005.
Activism & Awareness
In 2003, Otis became a spokesperson for the ‘National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.’ Later that year, she posed for ‘People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) for a campaign promoting vegetarianism and animal rights.
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Unfair labor practices and poor working conditions encouraged her to become an advocate for young women in modeling. She joined the advisory board of ‘Model Alliance,’ a non-profit industry organization working toward the welfare of professional models in the US.
She was also seen as a correspondent on ‘Channel 4 News,’ San Francisco, and in December, 2013, she gave a ‘Ted Talk’ in the city, in which she spoke about themes and issues relevant to social causes in her radar.
Otis now writes on issues related to health, nutrition, yoga, mind, body, spirituality, relationships, and sexual intimacy. She has contributed to publications such as ‘Huffington Post,’ ‘Mind Body Green,’ ‘Elephant Journal,’ ‘Patheos,’ ‘The Conversation,’ and ‘Vogue Australia.’
She is also part of ‘Project HEAL,’ “America’s strongest voice” that helps people make full recoveries from eating disorders. In an April 2018 interview, Otis stated she had been working on ‘thebluelotusfoundation.org,’ her way to “give back and use education in the prevention of eating disorders.”
Family & Personal Life
She met her first husband, Hollywood bad boy Mickey Rourke, while working on her first-ever movie, and thus started a tumultuous and passionate love affair, which became the toast of the tabloids right to its bitter end.
Among the many infamous incidents underlining the dramatic relationship were Rourke sending two of his goons to intimidate gay photographer Steven Meisel, who had shot Carré in the nude for ‘Vanity Fair,’ and her getting accidentally shot by a hollow-point bullet from a safety-less ‘.357 Magnum,’ which Rourke had placed inside her handbag without her knowledge.
On June 25, 1992, Rourke sent a limousine to pick Carré up from Los Angeles and drive her up the coast to Big Sur, where he met her and proposed to her, threatening to end his own life if she did not say “yes” then and there. The couple got married the following day in San Francisco.
They got divorced in 1998, with Carré realizing she had severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that she “needed support.” She claims she had to be “very careful and strategic” while “dealing with the logistics and plan” of her “escape.”
She met her current spouse, Matthew Sutton, an environmentalist and businessman, while hiking, in May 2005. They got married a few months later, in December 2005. They have two daughters, Jade, born on November 11, 2006, and Kaya, born on June 7, 2008. The family lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Otis has co-authored her memoirs, titled ‘Beauty, Disrupted: A Memoir’, with Hugo Schwyzer. The book was released in 2011 by ‘HarperCollins.’ The book had her sharing candid details of her hardships as a child, model, wife, and actor, detailing her marriage to Rourke and her spiritual transformation that helped her overcome anorexia and her drug and alcohol addictions.
She is a Buddhist and a vegetarian. She loves to be surrounded by nature and likes to drink a lot of water.
Otis is dyslexic. She has three holes in her heart and once almost died from a heroin overdose.