Sheryl Lee

Active - 1990 - 2016  |   Born - Apr 22, 1967 in Augsburg, Bavaria, West Germany  |   Genres - Drama, Mystery, Thriller

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

American actress Sheryl Lee has come a long way since her screen debut as the enigmatic, beautiful corpse of Laura Palmer, a murdered homecoming queen in David Lynch's surreal TV soap Twin Peaks (1990-1992). Later in the series, Lee got to play Laura's twin cousin, Madeleine Ferguson, until she too was slain. Though playing a dead girl may not have been the most ideal role, it earned Lee considerable fame, though she claims passerby recognizing her on the street would "look startled and look at me as if I were a ghost." She made her feature-film debut playing a supporting role in Lawrence Kasden's I Love You to Death (1990) and then played Glinda the Good Witch in Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990). Lee got to play an alive Laura Palmer in Lynch's panned feature-film prequel to his series, Twin Peaks: Firewalk With Me (1992). She has gone on to play the swinging German photographer who caused the "fifth Beatle" to leave the group in Back Beat (1994) and as Helga Noth in the screen adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Mother Night (1996).

Though she has appeared in these and other relatively mainstream films, Lee is perhaps best known for appearing in American independent features such as Fall Time (1995) and Notes From the Underground (1996). In addition to her filmwork, Lee also performs in television movies and on-stage. One of her more famous stage roles was that of the title role in the New York production of Salome in which she starred opposite Al Pacino. As her career progresses, Lee has gained a reputation for appearing nude on stage, screen, and television. Though she claims she hates it, the nudity she displays is never exploitative, rather she imbues it with an ethereal quality that defies tawdriness. In 1997, she appeared in the sexually frank drama Bliss as a frustrated wife who visits a tantric sex therapist to learn how to find fulfillment with her spouse.

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  • Was awarded the Spirit of Sundance Award for her body of work at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995.
  • Narrated the audiobook The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch written from the point of view of her iconic Twin Peaks character.
  • Has taught the graduate workshop Directing Actors for Camera at UCLA.
  • Revealed, in 2014, that she had been diagnosed with the rare blood disorder neutropenia.
  • Is a devoted member of PETA and has boldly campaigned against fur and the mistreatment of animals, notably with her striking Twin Peaks-inspired "I wouldn't be caught dead in fur" ad.