A child actress who made her film debut as the star of Anjelica Huston's 1996 adaptation of Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina, Jena Malone has appeared in films ranging from Contact (1997), in which she played the younger version of Jodie Foster's character, to Stepmom (1998), which featured her as one of Susan Sarandon's children. A native of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where she was born November 21, 1984, Malone was influenced to become an actress by her mother, who was active in community theatre. After persuading her mom to move to L.A., the aspiring actress began working in commercials and music videos. Following her debut in Bastard out of Carolina, she went on to do steady work, and in 2000, she starred in Christmas with J.D., which also featured Devon Sawa, Neve Campbell, and Christian Campbell. That same year, the young actress made headlines when she filed charges against her mother accusing her of squandering her earnings; the lawsuit resulted in Malone's legal emancipation from her mother, who was forbidden from interfering with her daughter's career and earnings. Coming out on the up side of the bitter family feud, Malone could next be seen in both the slightly surreal teen fantasy Donnie Darko and the bittersweet family drama Life as a House (both 2001). Following future appearances in The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys and The United States of Leland (both 2002), Malone would announce her intentions of studying photography at a northern California community college in the fall of 2002. She had a key role in The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys in 2002, and the next year had a cameo in Cold Mountain. In 2005 she was one of the younger sister in Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice, and two years later she was the younger sister in Sean Penn's Into the Wild. She had a brief but memorable turn as the ex-girlfriend of a soldier in The Messenger, and in 2011 she was one of the kick-ass girls at the center of Sucker Punch. In 2012 she appeared in Hatfields & McCoys as one of the McCoy clan. In 2013, she joined the Hunger Games series as fan-favorite Johanna Mason, appearing in Catching Fire and Parts 1 and 2 of Mockingjay. Malone was cast as Barbara Gordon in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), but her scenes were ultimately cut in the editing room, and she only appeared in the home version of the film.
Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx
- Raised by her mother, who was frequently on welfare.
- Nominated for a SAG award at age 12 for her role in Bastard Out of Carolina.
- Won legal emancipation from her mother when she was 15 due to her mother's mismanagement of her career and her earnings.
- Made her leading-role debut in Saved! in 2004, alongside Mandy Moore.
- Made her Broadway debut in 2006 in Doubt opposite Eileen Atkins and Ron Eldard.
- Sings in a band, Jena Malone and Her Bloodstains, and as part of a duo dubbed the Shoe.