Jessica Rothe

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Jessica Rothe
Rothe in 2019
Jessica Ann Rothenberg

(1987-05-28) May 28, 1987 (age 36)
Alma materBoston University
Years active2010–present
Eric Clem
(m. 2020)

Jessica Ann Rothenberg (born May 28, 1987),[1][2] better known as Jessica Rothe (/rɒθ/),[3] is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Tree Gelbman in the comedy slasher film Happy Death Day (2017) and its 2019 sequel, which established her as a scream queen.

Rothe has starred in the musical films La La Land (2016) and Valley Girl (2020), the romantic drama films Forever My Girl (2018) and All My Life (2020), and the action thriller film Boy Kills World (2023). On television, she starred in the MTV comedy series Mary + Jane (2016) and the Amazon Prime Video science fiction drama series Utopia (2020).

Early life[edit]

Rothe was born in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Susan and Steve Rothenberg.[4] Rothe's father is Jewish.[5][6] Her paternal grandmother Colleen Rothenberg was a theatre actress who belonged to the Congregation Shomrei Torah synagogue in Santa Rosa, California.[7]

Rothe took ballet classes when she was age 8.[8] As a youth, she attended summer theater camps in Kansas City.[9] Rothe attended Cherry Creek High School[10] and then Boston University, graduating in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts,[9] and during that time she learned to play the violin, tap dance, and make pottery.


2010–2016: Early work and stage[edit]

Rothe began acting under her birth name Jessica Rothenberg, and from 2010 to 2013, made minor appearances in shows such as The Onion News Network and played supporting roles in independent films such as The Hot Flashes and Jack, Jules, Esther and Me, among others.[11][12] She also made her stage debut in 2011, starring in the David West Read play The Dream of the Burning Boy.[13][14] Charles Isherwood of The New York Times wrote that Rothe gave an "impressive" performance.[15] She and the cast of the 2014 series Next Time on Lonny earned a Streamy Award nomination.[16]

In 2015, Rothe had leading roles in the comedy film Lily & Kat, the Netflix science fiction pilot Parallels, and the crime drama film The Preppie Connection.[17][18][19] That same year, she was cast as Alexis in Damien Chazelle's musical film La La Land.[20][21] Rothe was drawn to the role since as a child, "I just thought that living in a world where any moment someone could burst into song and dance would be the dreamiest thing in the world".[20] Released in 2016, the film was a critical and commercial success.[22][23] She and the acting ensemble received a nomination from the Gold Derby Awards.[24]

In 2016, Rothe had her first leading role in a television series, playing Paige in the MTV comedy series Mary + Jane.[25] Described as a "weed-comedy" and produced by Snoop Dogg, the show ran for one season.[26][27] The show earned mixed reviews,[28] though critics praised the acting of Rothe and her co-star Scout Durwood. Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter said that they "have a rapport that feels natural and unforced, even if so much of the rest of the show feels often wildly forced, or at least like its trying too hard."[29]

2017–present: Breakthrough[edit]

In 2017, Rothe starred in the Christopher Landon horror film Happy Death Day—originally titled Half to Death—as Theresa "Tree" Gelbman.[30][31] The character was written with the intention of having more depth than the average slasher character, part of which is reflected through the nickname Tree as "trees need to grow and you see this character go from one person to another".[31][32] Happy Death Day was a significant box office success,[33][34][35] and was called a "starmaking" film for Rothe.[36] Writing for, Brian Tallerico said that Rothe was "quite good in a way that makes me eager to see what she does next. Her performance is quite easily the best thing about the movie."[37] Simran Hans of The Guardian described her as "endlessly watchable and witty".[38] Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called her "unimprovable", "inexhaustable and funny".[39] The character has been called an example of the "final girl" trope, and established Rothe as a scream queen.[40][41][42][43] She was nominated for a Fright Meter Award and a New Mexico Film Critics Circle Award.[44][45]

In 2018, Rothe played Josie in the romance film Forever My Girl, which she accepted based on the themes of strength and female empowerment.[46] Her sole release of that year, the film received negative reviews from critics.

In 2019, Rothe reprised the role of Tree Gelbman in Happy Death Day 2U, a direct sequel to Happy Death Day.[47] The film was conceived by Landon before its predecessor was released,[48] and Rothe was initially hesitant feeling that a sequel could potentially retread the original. However, she was convinced by Landon's pitch and believed it "elevates the movie from being a horror movie into a Back to the Future type of genre film where the sequel joins us right from where we left off, it explains a lot of things in the first one that didn't get explained, and it elevates everything."[46] It was released to similar critical and financial success,[49][50] and Rothe earned a second Fright Meter Award nomination.[51]

In 2020, Rothe had starring roles in two films: the jukebox musical Valley Girl, a remake of the 1983 film of the same name, and the romantic drama All My Life.[52][53] Valley Girl sees Rothe play Julie, who was played by Deborah Foreman in the original film.[54] In All My Life, she plays Jennifer "Jenn" Carter. Both films garnered a mixed reception from critics, though Rothe's performances earned some praise.[55][56] Also in 2020, she appeared in four episodes of the Amazon Prime Video series Utopia.[57] Rothe said that "working with Gillian Flynn and the incredible cast in Chicago was a dream job, and I’m so excited for audiences to go through that emotional rollercoaster. It’s unique, fun and tragic all at the same time."[58]

In 2021, Rothe starred in the crime drama film Body Brokers.[59][60] In 2022, she replaced actress Samara Weaving in the action film Boy Kills World.[61] The film premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released theatrically in April 2024.[62][63]

Personal life[edit]

On February 14, 2019, Rothe announced that she was engaged to actor Eric Clem.[64] They married on September 12, 2020, in Morrison, Colorado.[65]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Promised Land Maya Short film[a]
The Last Keepers Jessica [a]
The Hot Flashes Millie Rash [a]
Bastards of Young Samantha the Devil [a]
Jack, Jules, Esther and Me Jules [a]
2014 Dissocia Short film
2015 Lily & Kat Lily
Parallels Beatrix Carver
The Preppie Connection Laura
2016 Juveniles Amber
Trust Fund Reese Donahue
Wolves Lola
The Tribe Jenny
Summertime Jules
La La Land Alexis
Better Off Single Mary
2017 Tater Tot & Patton Andie
Happy Death Day Theresa "Tree" Gelbman
Please Stand By Julie
2018 Forever My Girl Josie
2019 Happy Death Day 2U Theresa "Tree" Gelbman
2020 Valley Girl Julie Richman
All My Life Jenn Carter
2021 Body Brokers May
2023 Boy Kills World June 27


Year Title Role Notes
2010 America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back Bojana Mitic Episode: "The Pink Panthers"[a]
2011 The Onion News Network Katie Clements Recurring role; 2 episodes[a]
Happy Endings Teenage Girl Episode: "Baby Steps"[a]
2012 Gossip Girl Young Woman Episode: "The Backup Dan"[a]
2013 Blue Bloods Sylvie Freeland Episode: "Protest Too Much"[a]
Futurestates Maya Episode: "Promised Land"[a]
High Maintenance Rachel Episode: "Elijah"[a]
Next Time on Lonny Stephanie Recurring role; 6 episodes[a]
2016 Chicago P.D. Madison Episode: "If We Were Normal"
Mary + Jane Paige Main role
2019 Whitney Avalon: This Song is Killer Theresa "Tree" Gelbman Web series[66]
2020 Utopia Samantha Recurring role; 4 episodes
Delilah Delilah Main role; unsold HBO Max pilot[67]
2021 Eli Roth's History of Horror Herself Episode: "Holiday Horror"


Year Title Role Location Notes
2011 The Dream of the Burning Boy Chelsea Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre [14]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
Fright Meter Awards 2017 Best Actress in a Leading Role Happy Death Day Nominated [44]
2019 Best Actress in a Leading Role Happy Death Day 2U Nominated [51]
Gold Derby Awards 2017 Best Ensemble Cast La La Land Nominated [24]
New Mexico Film Critics Circle Awards 2017 Best Actress Happy Death Day Nominated [45]
Streamy Awards 2014 Best Ensemble Cast Next Time on Lonny Nominated [16]


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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Credited as Jessica Rothenberg

External links[edit]