Nationality: American. Born: Los Angeles, California, 21 June 1973; daughter of the actor Geoffrey Lewis. Education: Received high school equivalency diploma. Family: Married to Steve Berra, 1999. Career: 1985—acting debut in the cable TV mini-series Home Fires ; mid to late 1980s, appeared in several TV situation comedies, including I Married Dora , 1987–88, and a recurring role on Wonder Years , 1989–90; 1988—theatrical movie debut in My Stepmother Is an Alien ; 1990—first leading role in the TV movie Too Young to
My Stepmother Is an Alien (Benjamin) (as Lexie)
Meet the Hollowheads ( Life on the Edge ) (Burman) (as Cindy Hollowhead); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Chechik) (as Audrey Griswold); The Runnin' Kind (Tash)
Too Young to Die? (Markowitz—for TV) (as Amanda Sue Bradley)
Crooked Hearts (Bortman) (as Cassie Warren); Cape Fear (Scorsese) (as Danielle Bowden)
Husbands and Wives (Woody Allen) (as Rain)
That Night ( One Hot Summer ) (Bolotin) (as Sheryl O'Connor); Kalifornia (Sena) (as Adele Corners); What's Eating Gilbert Grape (Hallström) (as Becky)
Romeo Is Bleeding (Medak) (as Sheri); Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone) (as Mallory Knox); Mixed Nuts ( Lifesavers ) (Nora Ephron) (as Gracie Barzini)
The Basketball Diaries (Kalvert) (as Diane Moody); Strange Days (Bigelow) (as Faith Justin)
From Dusk Till Dawn (Rodríguez) (as Kate Fuller); The Audition (Lightfield, Lewis) (+ pr); The Evening Star (as granddaughter)
Full Tilt Boogie (Kelly) (as herself)
Men (Kelly) (as April)
The Other Sister (Marshall) (as Carla Tate)
"Hot Actress," interview with J. Colapinto, in Rolling Stone (New York), 14 May 1992.
"Big Girl Now," interview with David Handleman, in Vogue (New York), February 1993.
"Juliette and Her Friends," interview with Wolf Schneider, in Interview (New York), July 1993.
"Meeting the Mrs.," interview with D.E.Williams, in Film Threat (Beverly Hills), October 1994.
Interview with Jenny Cooney, in Empire , no. 59, 1994.
Rimer, S., "The Lonely Lolita of Cape Fear ," in New York Times , 24 November 1991.
Smith, C. S., "Fair Juliette," in New York , 25 November 1991.
Park, J., "She's Got a Foot in the Door," in People Weekly (New York), 9 December 1991.
Mithers, C. L., "Screen Angel," in Mademoiselle , September 1993.
Greene, Ray, "Caught in the Act," in Boxoffice , December 1993.
Lalanne, J., "Juliette Lewis," in Mensuel Du Cinema (Paris) , March 1994.
Diamond, Jamie, "The Quirky Allure of Juliette Lewis," in Cosmopolitan (New York), January 1995.
Current Biography 1996 , New York, 1996.
Lantos, Jeffrey, "The Return of Juliette Lewis," in Movieline , vol. 10, no. 6, March 1999.
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In her relatively short film career, Juliette Lewis has amassed an impressive array of screen credits. Inspired by her well-known character actor father, Geoffrey Lewis, she has been acting in films and television since the age of 13. Although she has no formal acting training, Lewis has consistently demonstrated her astonishing ability to craft well-studied and fascinating performances. Accordingly, she has been sought out by a number of major directors and actors, and despite her youth, she has chosen roles that have given her the opportunity to exercise her wide-ranging acting skills—regardless of the commercial or star-making potential of the films.
Lewis earned her first significant critical praise with her appearance in the television movie Too Young to Die? , in which she played a bereft young teenager who is manipulated into murdering a former lover by Brad Pitt's smarmy hustler. Then, her breakthrough theatrical film performance was in Scorsese's Cape Fear , for which she received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, and which confirmed her reputation as a major young Hollywood talent. Her riveting performance is both confident and complex: she plays a shy, confused teenager in the awkward throes of her sexual awakening who gets caught in the web of a psychotic rapist. In the film's extraordinarily memorable and chilling seduction scene, Lewis perfectly conveys her young character's sense of attraction and repulsion for Robert De Niro's oddly compelling stranger.
More of a gamine than a conventionally pretty actress, Lewis is able to accommodate a variety of "looks"—from the perfect embodiment of threatened innocence, as in Too Young to Die? and Cape Fear , to the sexy, scantily clad, and aggressive femme fatale/rock star of Strange Days . In both her leading roles and her ensemble film work, Lewis typically has played naive, dispossessed, working-class characters, who are either strangely menacing or even coldly violent, as in Kalifornia and Natural Born Killers . Indeed, her role as the sexually abused and disaffected serial killer in the latter further confirmed her unusual willingness to risk playing mostly unsympathetic characters. An example of this occurs in the eccentric, over-thetop film Romeo Is Bleeding , in which she plays the underage mistress of Gary Oldman's crooked cop. But, she also delivered an inspired and convincing performance in Husbands and Wives as an upper-middle class, east-coast collegian who is the sexually knowing object of desire for Woody Allen's middle-aged character. Likewise, her performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape —as a smart, sensitive, and worldly young woman traveling with her grandmother through the Midwest in a trailer, who captivates and enlightens Johnny Depp's Gilbert—displays her uncanny ability to produce quiet and subtly nuanced characterizations.
In her rare press and television interviews, Lewis repeatedly has expressed her desire to elude Hollywood's conventional star system, in order to continue taking chances and hone her already admirable talents as a performer. Still in her early twenties, Lewis fortunately has ample time in which to pursue and to demonstrate her creative and artistic priorities.