Who is Jennifer Jason Leigh?
Jennifer Jason Leigh is an American actress and producer known for playing all her roles with a strong conviction. She is a critically acclaimed actress having appeared in over fifty films throughout her career. Mostly known for appearing in films like ‘Miami Blues’, ‘The Hateful Eight’, ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, she has earned several nominations for the Academy and the Golden Globe Awards. She is also famous for her rigorous training and the intensive method-inspired search she does to prepare for each of her roles. Jennifer has often spoken on her love for experimenting with her roles and that she is not into acting in mainstream movies. She prefers playing roles that have a depth to them instead of playing typical roles. She has often been compared to Johnny Depp owing to her ability to completely transform herself into another person for a role. Jennifer ditched the ‘Morrow’ in her name and took up Jason in honor of Jason Robards, a family friend.
Childhood & Early Life
Jennifer was born Jennifer Leigh Morrow on February 2, 1962, to actors Vic Morrow and Barbara Turner in Los Angeles, California.
Her father, Vic Morrow was an actor and her mother, Barbara Turner was a screenwriter. They divorced when Jennifer was just two years old.
She studied in Palisades Charter High School in California, but later left school to focus on her career in acting.
She has two siblings - sister Carrie Ann Morrow and a half-sister Mina Badie, an actress. They have worked together on many occasions and Mina Badie has even acted with Jennifer in the movie 'The Anniversary Party'.
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Jennifer began her career as an actress at the age of nine. It was a minor, non-speaking role in the 1973 movie ‘Death of a Stranger’.
She attended Lee Strasberg’s acting workshops at Loch Sheldrake, New York when she grew up. She then went on to land major roles in movies like ‘The Young Runaways’, ‘Best Little Girl in the World’ and more. She also made guest appearances in episodes of ‘Baretta’ and ‘The Waltons’.
Jennifer prepared herself for her big screen debut in the 1981 film ‘Eyes of a Stranger’. She played a blind, deaf, and mute rape victim. Her acting skills were appreciated by many.
During the start of her career, she was typecast to play roles of helpless, fragile, anxious, and damaged characters.
The year 1990 was an important one for Jennifer as she made a major career breakthrough. She was honored with numerous awards for her portrayal of two prostitutes in two different films. She played Tralala, a prostitute in ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ and Susie, a teenage prostitute in ‘Miami Blues’, in which she starred opposite Alec Baldwin.
In 1994, she played Dorothy Parker, the popular American short story writer, critic, poet, and satirist in the film, ‘Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle’.
She played a negative role of Hedra Carlson, a mentally ill woman who terrorizes her roommate in ‘Single White Female’. Her portrayal of this negative character was greatly applauded by the critics.
After that, she gave three almost back-to-back to hits in 'Short Cuts’, ‘Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle’, and ‘Georgia’ and she won several awards for all her roles.
In 2001, she produced a comedy drama film, ‘The Anniversary Party’. She was also the writer and director for that film. It also got nominated for various awards.
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In subsequent years, she acted in several projects and appeared alongside Christian Bale in the 2004 thriller ‘The Machinist’. She also starred with Nicole Kidman in ‘Margot at the Wedding’.
In 2015, she appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ and received multiple nominations. She also received critical acclaim for her role as Daisy Domergue.
Apart from movies, Jennifer has also appeared on stage and has co-written and directed a number of films.
Jennifer played her first big role at the age of sixteen where she played the anorexic teenager Casey Povell in the Television Film ‘Best Little Girl in the World’. For this role, Jennifer dropped to about 86 pounds (39 kgs). This was done under medical supervision. However, this showed her commitment towards acting and her characters.
Her early film career comprised of roles that were of fragile and weak individuals. Some of them were a mute, blind and deaf rape victim, a pregnant teenager and a princess kidnapped and raped by mercenaries in the movie ‘Flesh + Blood.’
Her first big breakthrough roles were similar where she played Tralala, a gang rape victim in ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ and Susie, a teenage prostitute that falls in love with an ex-con in ‘Miami Blues.’
She played Suzanne in the 2004 movie ‘Childstar’ which got nominated and won several awards.
Her role as Pauline in the 2007 film ‘Margot at the Wedding’ also got nominated for various awards.
She gave the voice to the character Lisa in the film ‘Anomalisa’ which earned her many nominations.
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She appeared as ‘Daisy Domergue’ in ‘The Hateful Eight’, which was the biggest hit of her career. She won 5 awards and got nominated for 13 more.
Awards & Achievements
Jennifer received the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for two of her films, namely, ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’ and ‘Miami Blues’.
For her role as Susie Waggonner in ‘Miami Blues’, she also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She played a negative role in the ’92 film Single White Female, where she won the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.
She won the Golden Globe Special Award for Best Ensemble Cast and the Volpi Cup for Best Acting Ensemble for her role as Lois Kaiser in the movie ‘Short Cuts’.
She won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress or her outstanding acting in ‘Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle’.
She received the Montreal World Film Festival Award for Best Actress and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her movie ‘Georgia’.
She also got the Tokyo International Film Festival Award for Best Actress for her role in ‘The King is Alive’.
Her role as Suzanne in the movie ‘Childstar’ won the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.
She received the Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast for her movie ‘Synecdoche, New York’.
Along with these, she also shared the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Depiction of Nudity, Sexuality, or Seduction for the movie ‘Anomalisa’.
Her role as Daisie “The Prisoner” Domergue in the 2015 hit ‘The Hateful Eight’ won many awards along with a number of Nominations. Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress (runner up), Hollywood Film Award for Ensemble of the Year, National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress and the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress were some of them.
Personal Life & legacy
After her father, Vic Morrow was accidentally killed in a helicopter accident during the shooting of a film, Jennifer and her sister sued Warner Bros., Steven Spielberg, and John Landis. The settlements of the lawsuit have not been made public.
She married filmmaker Noah Baumbach in 2001. Their son, Rohmer Emmanuel was born on 17 March 2010. Jennifer filed for a divorce later that year. It was finalized in 2013.
Her current net worth is $4 million.
She has a song titled after her, by the punk band J Church and has lyrics made from her interview quotes.