Jennifer Maria Syme
December 7, 1972
Pico Rivera, California, U.S.
|Died||April 2, 2001 (aged 28)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Burial place||Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA|
|Partner(s)||Keanu Reeves (1998–2001)|
Jennifer Maria Syme (December 7, 1972 – April 2, 2001) was an American actress, personal assistant and record company executive. She was in a relationship with actor Keanu Reeves that began in 1998 and ended in early 2000, following the stillbirth of their daughter. The couple was back together in 2001. Syme died at the age of 28 in an automobile accident on April 2, 2001.
Early life and career
Syme was born in Pico Rivera, California, and was raised in Laguna Beach. Her parents were Maria St. John and Charles Syme, a retired California highway patrol officer, and they divorced some time after Syme was born.
When Syme was about to start high school, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where Syme developed a passion for moviemaking and especially for David Lynch's films. Actor and filmmaker Scott Coffey said that Syme was 16 years old when she walked into Lynch's office. "She was a huge fan and wanted to do anything on Twin Peaks", Coffey said. Syme landed a job at Lynch's company, Asymmetrical Productions, where she started as an intern and ended up working at for five years. She introduced Lynch to many of the musicians he used in his projects, and according to Coffey, she had a huge influence on the music in the 1997 film Lost Highway.
Syme also did some acting, and Scott Coffey directed her in five independent short films, the last one, Ellie Parker, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2001. Syme later joined the staff of a music label. She was also a personal assistant to guitarist Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction and, later, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
According to reports, Syme met actor Keanu Reeves in 1998 at a party thrown for Reeves' rock band, Dogstar, and they started dating. However, Syme's mother, Maria St. John, disputed the reports and said the two had known each other for a decade, and that she was with Syme when she met Reeves, and it was not at a party.
On December 24, 1999, after eight months of pregnancy, she gave birth to Ava Archer Syme-Reeves, her child with Reeves. However, the child was stillborn. Syme's and Reeve's grief over the loss put a strain on their relationship, which ended several weeks later. They remained close friends after their break up and were back together in 2001.
St. John said that Syme became very depressed when her grandfather, Alfonso Diaz, died in March 2001. She even ended up in the hospital for the first time since her baby died.
Marilyn Manson mentioned Syme and how she helped him work with director David Lynch in his 1998 memoir The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, and later depicted her in a painting called "A Mother Without a Daughter and a Daughter Without a Mother (In Memory of Jen)".
On April 1, 2001, Syme attended a party at the home of musician Marilyn Manson. After being driven home by another party guest shortly before dawn, she left her home, reportedly to return to the party. She drove her Jeep Grand Cherokee into a row of parked cars on Cahuenga Boulevard in Los Angeles. She was partially ejected from the vehicle and died instantly. She was 28 years old. Keanu Reeves, Dave Navarro, Scott Coffey, Anthrax's guitarist Scott Ian, and David Lynch acted as pallbearers at Symes' funeral, who was eulogized to the sound of Barbra Streisand's "Higher Ground" and Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" as Lynch screened a series of snapshots from Syme's life at the Good Shepherd Church in Beverly Hills. She was buried next to her daughter at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. David Lynch dedicated his 2001 film Mulholland Drive to Syme in the closing credits.
An investigation into the collision found that Syme was not wearing a seatbelt and was intoxicated at the time of the collision. Police found two rolled-up dollar bills that contained a white, powdery substance, and two bottles of prescription drugs: a muscle relaxant and an anticonvulsant. Syme's mother told police her daughter had recently sought treatment for back pain from an earlier automobile collision, and for depression stemming from her daughter's stillbirth.
While Syme and Keanu Reeves had broken up shortly after the stillbirth of their daughter, Reeves told investigators that they were back together. On April 1, 2001, they were brunching together at Crepes on Cole in San Francisco. The next day, Reeves called the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and asked, according to Lt. Mac Willie, "if Jen Syme was there."
In April 2002, Syme's mother, Maria St. John, sued Marilyn Manson for wrongful death, for giving Syme "various quantities of an illegal controlled substance" and for "instructing [Syme] to operate a motor vehicle in her incapacitated condition". Manson denied responsibility, stating that the lawsuit was "completely without merit". The case was dismissed in May 2003.
- Lost Highway (1997) - Junkie Girl
- Ellie Parker (2001) - Casting Chick (short film)
- Ellie Parker (2005) - Casting Chick (posthumous credit, final film role)
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