Louis-Dreyfus at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
|Born||Julia Scarlett Elizabeth Louis-Dreyfus
January 13, 1961
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, comedian, producer|
|Spouse(s)||Brad Hall (m. 1987)|
Judith LeFever Bowles
Julia Scarlett Elizabeth Louis-Dreyfus (/ /; born January 13, 1961) is an American actress, comedian and producer. She is known for her work on the comedy series Seinfeld (1989–98), The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006–10), and Veep (2012–present).
Louis-Dreyfus broke into comedy as a performer in The Practical Theatre Company in Chicago, which led to her casting in the sketch show Saturday Night Live from 1982 to 1985. Her breakthrough came in 1990 with a nine-season run playing Elaine Benes on Seinfeld, one of the most critically and commercially successful sitcoms of all time. Other notable television roles include Christine Campbell in The New Adventures of Old Christine which had a five-season run on CBS, and her role as Selina Meyer in Veep, which has recently been renewed by HBO for a fifth season.
Louis-Dreyfus' film roles have included Hannah and Her Sisters, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Deconstructing Harry and Enough Said. She also voiced roles in several animated films, including A Bug's Life and Planes.
Louis-Dreyfus has received a Golden Globe Award and seven Emmy Awards. She has also received six Screen Actors Guild Awards, five American Comedy Awards and two Critics' Choice Television Awards. Louis-Dreyfus received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010 and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2014.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Recurring characters on Saturday Night Live
- 5 Filmography
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Louis-Dreyfus was born in New York City. Her mother, Judith (née LeFever), was a writer and special needs tutor, and her father, Gérard Louis-Dreyfus, chaired Louis Dreyfus Energy Services. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, who in 1851 founded the Louis Dreyfus Group, a French commodities and shipping conglomerate, which members of her family control to this day. Her paternal grandfather, Pierre Louis-Dreyfus (1908–2011), was president of the Louis Dreyfus Group; he remained in France during World War II, fighting as a cavalry officer and later in the French Resistance. During this time, her father fled to America from France. Her paternal grandmother Dolores (née Neubauer) and her mother were American. Her paternal grandfather was from an Alsatian Jewish family, although Louis-Dreyfus does not consider herself Jewish. In 1962, one year after Louis-Dreyfus's birth, her parents divorced. After relocating to Washington, D.C., when Julia was eight, her mother married L. Thompson Bowles, Dean of the George Washington University Medical School. During her childhood, her mother occasionally took her to Unitarian church services.
Louis-Dreyfus spent her childhood in several states and countries, in connection with her stepfather's work with Project HOPE, including Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Tunisia. She graduated from the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland in 1979, and attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. There, she was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and studied theatre before dropping out to take a professional acting job.
1982–89: Early work and Saturday Night Live
As part of her comedic training, Louis-Dreyfus appeared in The Second City, one of Chicago's best-known improvisation theatre groups (whose alumni include Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Shelley Long). It was her performance with The Practical Theatre Company at their "Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee" that led to her being asked to join the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live at the age of 21.
Louis-Dreyfus was subsequently a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1982 to 1985, becoming the youngest female cast member in the history of the program at that time. During her time on SNL she appeared alongside several actors who would later rise to prominence, such as Eddie Murphy, Jim Belushi, Billy Crystal and Martin Short. It was during her tenure on SNL that she met writer Larry David, who would later co-create Seinfeld. Louis-Dreyfus has commented that her casting on SNL was a "Cinderella-getting-to-go-to-the-ball kind of experience"; however, she has also admitted that at times it was often quite tense, stating that she "didn't know how to navigate the waters of show business in general and specifically doing a live sketch-comedy show."
Following her 1985 departure from SNL, Louis-Dreyfus appeared in several films, including the Woody Allen-directed Hannah and Her Sisters (1986); Soul Man (1986), starring C. Thomas Howell; and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), in which she starred alongside fellow SNL alum Chevy Chase. In 1988 she was cast in the NBC sitcom Day by Day, which aired for two seasons before being cancelled.
1990–98: The Seinfeld years
In the early-1990s Louis-Dreyfus became famous for the role of Elaine Benes on NBC's Seinfeld. She played the role for nine seasons, appearing in all but three episodes. One of the episodes that she did not appear in was the inaugural pilot episode, "The Seinfeld Chronicles", due to the fact that her character was not initially intended to be a part of the series. It was only after the first episode that NBC executives felt the show was too male-centric, and demanded that creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David add a woman to the cast. It was revealed in the commentary on the DVD package that the addition of a female character was the condition of commissioning the show. Louis-Dreyfus won the role over several other actresses who would also eventually enjoy their own TV success, including Patricia Heaton, Rosie O'Donnell and Megan Mullally.
On the "Notes About Nothing" featurette on the DVD package, Seinfeld says that Louis-Dreyfus' ability to eat a peanut M&M without breaking the peanut aptly describes the actress: "She cracks you up without breaking your nuts."
Her performance on the series was met with critical acclaim, and she was a regular winner and nominee at television award shows throughout the 1990s. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe Award, five Screen Actors Guild Awards and five American Comedy Awards. In 1996 she received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, an award she was nominated for on seven occasions. After receiving the award, Louis-Dreyfus claimed the win was a "shocker", and that after being in both positions, it was "much better to win than to lose."
Following a voice role in the successful Disney Pixar's A Bug's Life, Louis-Dreyfus lent her voice as Snake's girlfriend Gloria in The Simpsons episode "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love". In 2001 she made several special guest appearances on Seinfeld co-creator Larry David's show Curb Your Enthusiasm, playing herself fictionally trying to break the "curse" by planning to star in a show in which she would play an actress affected by a Seinfeld-like curse.
After several years away from a regular TV gig, Louis-Dreyfus began a new single-camera sitcom Watching Ellie which premiered on NBC in February 2002. The series was created by husband Brad Hall, and co-starred Steve Carell and Louis-Dreyfus' half-sister Lauren Bowles. The initial premise of the show was to present viewers with a "slice of life" from the goings-on and happenings of the life of Ellie Riggs, a Southern California jazz singer. The first season included a 22-minute countdown kept digitally in the lower left-hand corner of the screen which many critics panned, claiming it was useless and "did nothing for the show." Overall the show received mixed reviews, but debuted strongly with over 16 million viewers tuning in for the series premiere, and maintained an average audience of approximately 10 million viewers per week.
When the series returned for a second season in the spring of 2003[clarification needed] the series had suffered somewhat of a decline in viewership, averaging around eight million viewers per week. Moreover, the show had undergone a drastic stylistic change between production of season one and two. The first season was filmed in the single-camera format, but the second season was presented as a traditional multi-camera sitcom filmed in front of a live studio audience. With dwindling viewership and failing to retain the numbers from its Frasier lead-in, the series was cancelled by NBC in May 2003.
Following NBC's cancellation of Watching Ellie, the media began circulating rumors of a so-called "Seinfeld curse" which claimed that none of the former Seinfeld actors could ever achieve success again in the television industry. Louis-Dreyfus dismissed the rumour as "a made-up thing by the media", while Seinfeld co-creator Larry David asserted that the curse was "completely idiotic."
Louis-Dreyfus was interested in the role of Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, the role that ultimately went to Teri Hatcher. Instead, Louis-Dreyfus scored a recurring guest role as the deceitful prosecutor and love interest of Michael Bluth on the Emmy-winning comedy Arrested Development, from 2004 to 2005.
2005–10: The New Adventures of Old Christine and renewed success
In 2005 it was announced that Louis-Dreyfus had been cast in the title role of a new CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. The series and its concept was created by writer and producer of Will & Grace, Kari Lizer. The series told the story of Christine Campbell, a single mother who manages to maintain a fantastic relationship with her ex-husband, while running a women's gym. The series debuted on CBS in March 2006 to an audience of 15 million and was initially a ratings winner for the network.
Louis-Dreyfus also received considerable critical acclaim for her performance on the show, with Brian Lowry of Variety stating that Louis-Dreyfus broke the "Seinfeld curse" "with one of the best conventional half-hours to come along in a while." Alessandra Stanley from The New York Times asserted that Louis-Dreyfus' performance on the series proved she is "one of the funniest women on network television." Louis-Dreyfus additionally earned the 2006 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance in the first season. Referring to the curse, she stated in her acceptance speech, "I'm not somebody who really believes in curses, but curse this, baby!" Throughout the course of the series she received five consecutive Emmy Award nominations, three consecutive Satellite Award nominations, two Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award. In 2007 she also received two nominations for a People's Choice Award due to her return to popularity, thanks to the success of Old Christine.
In May 2006, Louis-Dreyfus hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live, becoming the first former female cast member to return to the show in the hosting role. In the episode, she appeared with former Seinfeld mates Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld in her opening monologue, parodying the so-called "Seinfeld Curse". After a successful reception from her 2006 episode, Louis-Dreyfus was invited again to host SNL on March 17, 2007.
In 2007, Louis-Dreyfus reprised her role as Gloria on The Simpsons, which she had first originated in the 2001 episode "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love", in the episode "I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". She appeared on the series once more in the 2008 episode "Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes".
In the fall of 2009,[clarification needed] she appeared with rest of the cast of Seinfeld in four episodes of the seventh season of Larry David's sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. The reunion shows received much media attention, and the episode received strong ratings for the HBO series.
In 2009 Louis-Dreyfus was granted the honorary award for Legacy of Laughter at the TV Land Awards. Previous winners had included Lucille Ball and Mike Myers. She was presented with the award by friend Amy Poehler. The following year Louis-Dreyfus received the 2,407th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on May 4, 2010, for her remarkable contribution to the broadcast television industry as both an actress and a comedian. Originally, the star was set with Louis-Dreyfus' name spelled incorrectly. It was missing both the 'o' and also the hyphen in her last name. The star was corrected and the misspelled portion was removed and presented to the actress. Celebrity guests at the event included past and current colleagues from throughout her career, including Clark Gregg, Larry David, Eric McCormack and Jason Alexander.
Old Christine was cancelled by CBS in May 2010 after five seasons. After its cancellation from CBS, there were discussions with ABC for the show to be revived on their network, but these plans never came to fruition.
In the spring of 2010,[clarification needed] Louis-Dreyfus guest starred several times in the third season of the web series Web Therapy, starring Lisa Kudrow. Louis-Dreyfus played the sister of a self-involved therapist who gives her therapy online, and her performance earned her strong reviews. When the series made the transition to cable television on the Showtime network, Louis-Dreyfus's appearance from the web series was included in the second season, airing in July 2012.
In fall 2010,[clarification needed] Louis-Dreyfus made a guest appearance on the live episode of the Emmy-winning comedy 30 Rock. She played Tina Fey's role of Liz Lemon in the cutaway shots. Louis-Dreyfus was among several Saturday Night Live alumni appearing in the episode, including Rachel Dratch, Bill Hader and regulars Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey herself. Louis-Dreyfus also starred in a "Women of SNL" special November 1, 2010, on NBC.
In May and June 2011, Louis-Dreyfus teamed up with husband Brad Hall for her first short film, Picture Paris. This was the first time the couple had collaborated since their early-2000s NBC comedy Watching Ellie. Hall wrote and directed the film, while Louis-Dreyfus played the lead role of an ordinary woman with an extraordinary obsession with the city of Paris. The film premiered on January 29, 2012 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and has received considerable critical acclaim. It made its television premiere on HBO on December 17, 2012.
In early 2011, HBO confirmed that Louis-Dreyfus had been cast in the lead role of U.S. Vice President Selina Meyer in a new satirical comedy series entitled Veep. The series was commissioned for a first season of eight episodes. It was announced, in addition to her starring role, Louis-Dreyfus would also serve as a producer of the series. In preparation for her role, Louis-Dreyfus spoke with several former vice presidents, including Al Gore. Louis-Dreyfus has publicly commended HBO for allowing the cast and crew to engage in a "protracted pre-production process", which included a six-week rehearsal period before filming began.
The first season was filmed in the fall of 2011[clarification needed] in Baltimore, and the series premiered on April 22, 2012. The premiere episode was met with high praise from critics, particularly for Louis-Dreyfus' performance. The Hollywood Reporter asserted that the character of Selina Meyer was her "best post-Seinfeld role" to date and claimed that she gives "an Emmy-worthy effort", while the Los Angeles Times contended that the series demonstrates that she is "one of the medium's great comedians." Following the success of the first season, Louis-Dreyfus was named by the Huffington Post as one of the funniest people of 2012 asserting that she is the "most magnetic and naturally funny woman on TV since Mary Tyler Moore."
For her performance on Veep Louis-Dreyfus has received several accolades, including the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, the 2013 and 2014 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and the 2014 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy. Her Emmy winning performance on Veep resulted in her becoming the only woman to win an acting award for three separate comedy series. Her five Emmy wins for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series tie her with Mary Tyler Moore and Candice Bergen for the most wins in that category. Her Emmy nomination in 2013 marked her 14th acting nomination, surpassing the record long-held by Lucille Ball. She has also been nominated as one of the producers for Veep in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series category in 2012, 2013 and 2014, but the show lost to Modern Family on all three occasions. The show won the Comedy Series award in 2015. Her performance has additionally garnered her three consecutive Satellite Award nominations and three consecutive Golden Globe Award nominations.
Louis-Dreyfus lent her voice to the 2013 animated film Planes, in the role of Rochelle. To date, the film has grossed well over $200 million at the box office worldwide. She also starred in the film Enough Said, directed by Nicole Holofcener, which was released on September 18, 2013. This marked her debut as a lead actress in a full-length feature film. The film received rave reviews from movie critics, ranking among the best-reviewed films of 2013. The website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 96% based on 152 reviews, many of them praising Louis-Dreyfus' performance. She received a number of Best Actress nominations for her role in the film at award ceremonies, including the Golden Globe Awards, Satellite Awards, Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the American Comedy Awards.
Since December 2014, Louis-Dreyfus has appeared in a series of television commercials for Old Navy. In November 2015, she starred in an Old Navy TV commercial together with Kumail Nanjiani and Snoop Dogg.
Louis-Dreyfus's maternal half-sister, Lauren Bowles (born 1970), is an actress, who has appeared with Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld, Watching Ellie and The New Adventures of Old Christine. She also has two half-sisters on her father's side, Phoebe (born 1968) and Emma (born 1974). Robert Louis-Dreyfus (1946–2009), one of her cousins, was former CEO of Adidas and owner of the Olympique de Marseille football club.
While at Northwestern, Louis-Dreyfus met future husband and Saturday Night Live comedian Brad Hall. She and Hall married in 1987. They have two sons together, Henry, born in 1992, and Charles, born in 1997. In 2007, she was invited back to Northwestern to receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.
Louis-Dreyfus has stated that she holds much respect for "women who are not afraid of making themselves look bad or foolish to get a laugh", and cites her acting idols as Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman.
Louis-Dreyfus supported Al Gore's 2000 U.S. presidential bid, and also endorsed Barack Obama's bid for the presidency in 2008 and 2012. She appeared in a video which urged President Obama to reject the proposal of the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing that if the pipeline ever were to leak, it would cause mass pollution across the U.S. Additionally, she has voiced her concern for several environmental issues, and has raised millions for Heal the Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Trust for Public Land. She also worked for successful passage of Proposition O, which allocated US$500 million for cleaning up the Los Angeles water supply.
Recurring characters on Saturday Night Live
- April May June, a televangelist
- Becky, El Dorko's (Gary Kroeger) date
- Consuela, Chi Chi's friend and co-host of Let's Watch TV
- Darla in SNL's parody of The Little Rascals
- Weather Woman, a superhero who controls the weather
- Patti Lynn Hunnsucker, a teenage correspondent on Weekend Update
|Hannah and Her Sisters||Mary|
|Soul Man||Lisa Stimson|
|1989||National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation||Margo Chester|
|1993||Jack the Bear||Peggy Etinger|
|1997||Fathers' Day||Carrie Lawrence|
|1998||A Bug's Life||Atta (voice)|
|2012||Picture Paris||Ellen Larson||Short film; also producer|
|1982–1985||Saturday Night Live||Various Characters||57 episodes|
|1988||Family Ties||Susan White||Episode: "Read It and Weep: Part 2"|
|1988–1989||Day by Day||Eileen Swift||33 episodes|
|1990–1998||Seinfeld||Elaine Benes||177 episodes|
|1992||Dinosaurs||Heather Worthington (voice)||Episode: "Slave to Fashion"|
|1995||The Single Guy||Tina||Episode: "Mugging"|
|1996||London Suite||Debra Dolby||TV movie|
|1997||Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist||Julia (voice)||Episode: "Ben Treats"|
|Hey Arnold!||Miss Felter (voice)||Episode: "Crush on Teacher"|
|1999||Animal Farm||Mollie (voice)||Movie|
|2000||Geppetto||The Blue Fairy||Movie|
|2000/01, 2009||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Elaine Benes||8 episodes|
|2001, 2007/08||The Simpsons||Gloria (voice)||3 episodes|
|2002–2003||Watching Ellie||Ellie Riggs||19 episodes; also producer|
|2004–2005||Arrested Development||Maggie Lizer||4 episodes|
|2006–2010||The New Adventures of Old Christine||Christine Campbell||88 episodes; also producer|
|2006–2007||Saturday Night Live||Herself (host)||2 episodes|
|2010||30 Rock||Liz Lemon (cut-away sequences)||Episode: "Live Show"|
|2012–present||Veep||Selina Meyer||38 episodes, also producer|
|2012||Web Therapy||Shevaun Haig||Episode: "Sister Act"|
|2015||Inside Amy Schumer||Herself||Episode: "Last Fuckable Day"|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Julia Louis-Dreyfus.|
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Internet Movie Database
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus at Emmys.com
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus at feed.emmys.com
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus interview video at the Archive of American Television
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus Video produced by Makers: Women Who Make America