Jennifer Westfeldt is an American actress and screenwriter, best known for starring in and writing films such as ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ and ‘Friends with Kids.’ Born and raised in Guilford, Connecticut, Jennifer gained interest in performing arts when she was a kid. She is doing theatres since her high school years. She graduated from Guilford High School and went on attending Yale University, where she joined an a cappella group named Redhot & Blue. Following her graduation from the Yale University, she moved to New York City and appeared many Off-Broadway productions. She made her television acting debut in 1998 with a regular role in the series titled ‘Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place,’ followed by another regular role in the series titled ‘Holding the Baby.’ In 2001, after making her debut with the film titled ‘See Jane Run,’ she co-wrote and played the lead role in the independent film titled ‘Kissing Jessica Stein,’ which was a commercial success. She went on playing pivotal roles in films such as ‘Ira & Abby’ and ‘Keep Your Distance.’ In addition, she also turned director for the film titled ‘Friends with Kids,’ in which she also played the lead role.
Childhood & Early Life
Jennifer Westfeldt was born on February 2, 1970, in Guilford, Connecticut, to Constance "Connie" (née Meyers)) and Patrick McLoskey Westfeldt. Her father worked as an electrical engineer while her mother was a therapist. Her mother has since divorced her father and went on marrying another man, who also happens to be a therapist.
Jennifer is Jewish from her mother’s side. Her father hails from a Swedish/English ancestry and had a Swedish nobleman among his ancestors; hence, Jennifer has been listed in the Swedish Book of Peerage.
Jennifer was interested in performance arts ever since she was a kid. She spent her entire childhood and teenage in Guilford and attended Guildford High School. She acted on stage for the first time in her life during her high school years. She participated in theatrical productions while she was there.
Following her high school graduation, she enrolled into Yale University for further studies. While in college, she stayed in touch with performance arts and joined an a cappella group named ‘Redhot & Blue.’ Following her college graduation, she moved to New York City and began working in theatrical productions.
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In the early 1990s, when she landed in NYC, she did more than 25 Off-Broadway and regional productions. After gaining sufficient experience in theatre acting, she moved to Los Angeles and began auditioning for roles in films and television. She was lucky enough to have landed a meaty role right away.
She moved to LA in 1997 and in the same year, she earned her debut television role, which was one of the main roles in the series titled ‘Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place.’ She played a regular role as Melissa during the first season of the series which received critical and commercial acclaim.
She further appeared in the series titled ‘Holding the Baby,’ playing Kelly O’Malley in the first season. She played the lead role in the series which was a commercial and critical disaster and was cancelled after 1 season and 13 episodes of it were aired.
After gaining ample appreciation for her role, Jennifer went on writing and starring in an Off-Broadway play called ‘Lipschtick: The Story of Two Women Seeking The Perfect Shade.’
The play became highly popular among the Hollywood studios and rights to make it into a film were immediately bought by Radar Pictures. However, the studio was taking too much time to begin production and hence, Jennifer and her co-writer Heather Juergensen decided to produce the film independently by themselves.
The film resulted from this adaptation was titled ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ and Jennifer essayed the lead role in the film as Jessica Stein, along with co-writing the film which was released in 2001. The film was produced independently on a low budget and became a huge critical and commercial success, earning 10 times its budget. Also winning several awards and nominations, the film turned Jennifer into an overnight star.
Around this time, she also appeared playing guest roles in series’ such as ‘Snoops,’ ‘Judging Amy’ and ‘Hack’ along with television films such as ‘The Gene Pool’ and ‘Untitled New York Pilot.’
In 2004, she appeared playing a supporting role in the romantic comedy film titled ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.’ The film received average reviews and was an average commercial success.
In 2006, she wrote and starred in the film romantic comedy film titled ‘Ira & Abby.’ The film received average critical reception and was a moderate box office success. Jennifer received huge appreciation for her role in the film. She was honored with the Best Actress Award at the US Comedy Arts Festival.
In 2007, she was hired to play the lead role as Lauren Stone in the sitcom titled ‘Notes from the Underbelly.’ The sitcom ran for 2 seasons and while it received some good initial reviews, it was eventually cancelled.
In 2009, she appeared playing the lead role in the television film titled ‘Before You Say I Do.’ The film received bad ratings and reviews. Jennifer followed in the late 2000s with supporting roles in series’ such as ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘24.’
In 2011, she appeared playing the lead role as Julie Keller in the romantic drama film titled ‘Friends with Kids.’ Apart from playing the lead role in the film, she also wrote, produced and directed it. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was a huge critical success upon its release. It was also a fairly good commercial success.
But the film did not do any wonders for her film career as expected. She later appeared in 2016 short films titled ’10 Crosby’ and ‘Lemon’ and produced a documentary film titled ‘Circus Kids.’
As for her television career, she was lately seen playing guest roles in series’ such as ‘Girls’ and ‘Childrens Hospital’ and a recurring role as Pauline in the comedy drama series titled ‘Younger.’
Family & Personal Life
Jennifer Westfeldt started dating actor Jon Hamm in 1997. The couple lived together in New York, then in Los Angeles. There were rumours about their marriage, but both of them denied the rumours.
After being together for about 2 decades, the couple announced their separation in 2015.
Jennifer is an ardent dog lover and owns a German Shepherd named Cora.