The personification of a certain brand of Eastern European exoticism that lends itself to playing either vampires or mysterious women with a past, Romanian actress Elina Lowensohn is best known to most audiences as a regular player in the films of Hal Hartley.
Born in Bucharest in 1967, Lowensohn lived there until she was 14, with her father, a concentration camp survivor who was an official with the Ceausescu regime, and her mother, a noted ballet dancer and teacher. After the family defected to the U.S. and settled in New York, Lowensohn went on to study theatre at the University of Michigan and at New York University's Playwrights Horizon School. Her first break came courtesy of director Hartley, who, as legend has it, discovered the actress when she was working as a waitress in a New York diner. He subsequently cast her opposite fellow Hartley regular William Sage as one half of a bickering couple in his 1991 short The Theory of Achievement. A starring role in Hartley's Simple Men, in which Lowensohn played a mysterious young woman stranded on Long Island, followed in 1992.
Lowensohn spent the remainder of the decade appearing mainly in small, art house films; in addition to further starring work for Hartley in his highly acclaimed Amateur (1994), which cast her as a troubled porn star, and Flirt (1995), she did starring work in Michael Almereyda's Nadja (1994), in which she played the film's titular heroine, a vampire prowling the streets of New York City. Lowensohn also had a memorable turn as New York gallery owner Annina Nosei in Julian Schnabel's Basquiat (1996) and appeared in a number of French films, including Le Silence De Rak (1997), a romantic drama in which she starred opposite François Cluzet.