George in June 2009
August 6, 1976 |
Perth, Western Australia
(m. 2000; div. 2011)
Melissa Suzanne George (born August 6, 1976) is an Australian-American actress. A former national rollerskating champion and model in Australia, George began her acting career playing Angel Parrish on the Australian soap opera Home and Away from 1993 to 1996. After moving to the United States, George made her film debut in the neo-noir science fiction feature Dark City (1998) and later appeared in supporting roles in Steven Soderbergh's crime film The Limey (1999) and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001).
She also appeared in television, on series such as Friends (2003), Alias (2003–04), In Treatment (2008), Grey's Anatomy (2008–09) and Lie to Me (2010), earning a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film for In Treatment. In 2005, George transitioned into leading parts in films, starring as Kathy Lutz in the remake of The Amityville Horror (2005), followed by the thriller Turistas (2006) and the vampire horror film 30 Days of Night (2007). She garnered critical acclaim for her starring role in Triangle (2009).
George's subsequent work includes the thriller A Lonely Place to Die (2011), the Australian drama series The Slap (2011), for which she won a Logie Award for Most Outstanding Actress, the British-American spy drama series Hunted (2012) and the drama series The Good Wife (2013–14). In 2015, she starred in the American adaptation of The Slap, playing the same character, Rosie, that she had played in the Australian version. She also played the lead role in the American medical drama series Heartbeat.
Melissa George was born in Perth, Western Australia, the daughter of Pamela, a nurse, and Glenn George, a construction worker. William Ward, a grandfather on her mother's side, worked as a prison warden at Rottnest Island, offshore from Perth. The second of four children, George attended Warwick Senior High School and developed an interest in dancing and began studying jazz, tap, ballet, and modern dance at the age of seven. Her enthusiasm for dance eventually evolved into a passion for artistic roller skating. She is an Australian national roller skating champion and won bronze medals in the National Championships in 1989 and 1990. She won a silver medal at the Junior World Championship in 1991.
Early work (1992–1998)
George began modeling in her early teens, and in 1992 she was named Western Australia's Teenage Model of the Year. At the age of sixteen, George and a friend, Cara Mitchinson, both acted in a mock episode of the popular Australian soap Home and Away with a video camera, playing Bobby and Sophie Simpson, respectively. When the offer of a role on the serial came, George's parents convinced her to relocate from her native Perth to Sydney and she began lodging with families. George met with casting director Liz Mullinar and was subsequently cast in the role of Angel Parrish. She made her first on-screen appearance on 30 March 1993, arriving as a teenage runaway. While playing the role, George made property investments and wrote advice columns for two English teen magazines.
Her role earned her five consecutive Logie Award nominations, of which she won two. The character became popular among viewers when she was paired up with Shane Parrish, and to this day they remain one of the soap's most loved couples. George departed Home and Away on 30 August 1996. She then made a health and fitness video, Mind, Body and Soul (1996), created a sleepwear line called "An Angel at My Bedside", and had a recurring role on the short-lived 1997 Fox Broadcasting Company television fantasy drama series Roar, which was filmed in Queensland, opposite Heath Ledger. Her fearlessness in performing the show's stunts endeared her to the show's creator, Shaun Cassidy, who subsequently cast her as the female lead in the pilot Hollyweird. A show about "the adventures of an intrepid pair of friends from Ohio who take their love for the macabre and use it to solve crimes plaguing Los Angeles", she was to star alongside Bodhi Elfman and Fab Filippo. The pilot was ordered to series, however, the Fox Network's tinkering and delays frustrated Cassidy, who pulled out of the project, saying that Fox had forced him to spend "much of the last year trying to fix something I never viewed as broken in the first place." Ultimately, production never went ahead on the show.
George then appeared on the cover and in a nude pictorial for the March 1997 issue of Australian Playboy before leaving Australia to move to Los Angeles to try her luck in Hollywood. After moving she scored a small role in the critically acclaimed neo-noir science fiction film Dark City (1998).
Career breakthrough (1999–2007)
After a supporting role in Steven Soderbergh's 1999 neo-noir crime film The Limey, she was cast in a supporting role, Cleo Miller, in the 2001 black comedy Sugar & Spice and had a minor role in David Lynch's critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive, which opened at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. She starred in several unaired TV pilots, including the lead role in Lost in Oz, an original sequel to The Wizard of Oz, inspired by the Oz books of L. Frank Baum. After pilot was filmed, a significant amount of time passed before the decision was made to film a second episode. However, by then George's contract had lapsed and, as she had just moved to America, she didn't want to move back to Australia to shoot it. Ultimately, a second episode was never shot and the show was never picked up.
She starred in the short-lived ABC drama-comedy Thieves, co-starring John Stamos. She starred in the sixth season premiere of the WB series Charmed, had a minor role opposite Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor in the 2003 romantic comedy Down with Love and was originally cast as Susan Freeman in the American series Coupling (based on the British series of the same name. After "an audition from hell", George was cast and filmed the pilot, but the network (NBC) then fired the writers and replaced George and her fellow castmembers Breckin Meyer and Emily Rutherfurd with Rena Sofer, Colin Ferguson and Sonya Walger, respectively. The series lasted only four episodes and show creator Stephen Moffat blamed NBC's meddling as the reason for the show's failure, saying that they "fucked it up because they intervened endlessly." George later commented that she "dodged a bullet" by being replaced before the show aired.
In 2003, she landed the role of Lauren Reed on the ABC television series Alias. She had auditioned to play lead character Sydney Bristow, but lost out to Jennifer Garner. When that happened, ABC cast her on Thieves instead. It was originally planned that George would guest-star for several episodes but she was quickly upgraded to regular. To explain her character's accent (George is Australian), the writers wrote that she was born in the United States but grew up in London. George left the show at the end of the third season, saying that "I got offered a couple of films so I decided to kind've [sic] move on."
Her first starring role in a feature film was Kathy Lutz in the 2005 remake of the 1979 horror film, The Amityville Horror. The film was not well received by critics, but was a major success at the worldwide box office, grossing over $108 million. Despite unfavorable reviews, Film Threat praised George and her co-star Ryan Reynolds's performances, stating that they "make a striking couple. Both young and extremely attractive" and that she "does an impeccable American accent, but otherwise she is unremarkable as Kathy Lutz. Her physical beauty is sometimes distracting, but not enough to keep the audience awed by her acting." That same year, she played Deanna Schine in the thriller Derailed, co-starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston.
In March 2006, it was announced that she had been cast in the NBC comedy-drama series Lipstick Jungle, based on the novel of the same name by Candace Bushnell. George was to play Nico Reilly, the editor-in-chief of Bonfire Magazine, alongside castmates Gina Gershon, Matthew Morrison, Scott Cohen, Will Toale, Edward Herrmann and Christopher Wiehl. However, the show underwent significant changes with George and all her aforementioned castmates being replaced and with executive producers DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler, writers Rand Ravich and Jill Gordon and director Nigel Cole all fired. George had been personally cast by Bushnell, but left in early 2007 when she was offered the HBO series In Treatment. Also in 2006, she travelled to Brazil to film the horror-thriller Turistas (released in the UK and Ireland as Paradise Lost) with Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde. Shooting lasted three months on what was the first Hollywood film to be shot entirely on location in Brazil and George, who learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese for the role, said that the experience "made me a better actress, more resilient, tougher."
In 2007, she landed the lead role, Christine, in the drama Music Within, opposite Ron Livingston. The film had a limited release. In an interview, she said that she "knew that Christine's a true character, and the woman responsible for Richard Pimentel's sort of success in a way. She was the driving force behind him and behind every good man is a good woman, and Christine was that woman." She starred in the British horror thriller WΔZ, and had a prominent role in the film adaptation of 30 Days of Night, directed by David Slade and co-starring Josh Hartnett. The film was a modest success with an over $75 million worldwide gross.
Recent roles (2008–present)
George returned to television in 2008 in the HBO half-hour drama In Treatment, co-starring Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest, receiving a 2009 Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or Television Film, and also received a nomination for "Best Actress" at the 2009 Australian Film Institute Awards.
In September 2008, it was announced that George was joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy for eleven episodes as Sadie Harris, a bisexual intern, but in January 2009 it was released that she was leaving the show in a mutual agreement with the producers. In 2008, she starred in the film The Betrayed, which was released at the San Diego Film Festival, and was released direct-to-video in the United States on 30 June 2009.
On 9 November 2009, it was announced that George would guest-star in at least two episodes of Fox's Lie to Me playing Clara Musso. George also received the lead role in the Australian-British mystery thriller by Chris Smith titled Triangle, which opened to highly positive reviews. George also stars in the British thriller film A Lonely Place to Die, directed by Julian Gilbey.
In November 2010, George was named the new face of L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.
In 2012, George appeared as Rosie in the Australian TV series The Slap and as Sam Hunter in the British TV series Hunted, which was filmed over seven months in London, Scotland and Morocco.
George is credited as the inventor of Style Snaps, a device intended to allow changing pant hem length without sewing. The product is marketed via direct response TV. She has stated that the invention earns her more money than her acting career.
In 1998, George met Chilean furniture designer and film director Claudio Dabed in Bali. They married two years later. In 2011, they announced their divorce. George then began dating hip hop mogul Russell Simmons. Since meeting at the BAFTA after-party in 2011, she has been dating French entrepreneur Jean David Blanc, the founder of AlloCiné. Together they have two sons, Raphaël (b. 2014) and Solal (b. 2015).
George became a naturalized American citizen in 2008. She is the cousin of the opera singer Taryn Fiebig. She climbed Ben Nevis mountain for her role in A Lonely Place to Die. In an interview with The Sun, she stated: "It was tough because it's a pretty dangerous location, and it wasn't fit for a large crew, but we did it, we made it... I was climbing with Di Gilbert who has climbed Everest many times so that was incredible. And when you get up there, it's just a huge sense of achievement."
|1999||The Limey||Jennifer "Jenny" Wilson|
|2001||Sugar & Spice||Cleo Miller|
|2001||Mulholland Drive||Camilla Rhodes|
|2001||New Port South||Amanda|
|2003||Down with Love||Elkie|
|2005||The Amityville Horror||Kathy Lutz|
|2007||Home Sick||Call Girl #2|
|2007||30 Days of Night||Stella Oleson|
|2009||Devil's Eye||Melissa||Short film|
|2011||A Lonely Place to Die||Alison|
|2011||Swinging with the Finkels||Janet|
|1993–96||Home and Away||Angel Parrish||466 episodes|
|1997||Murder Call||Petra Salinis||Episode: "Hot Shot"|
|1999||Silk Stalkings||Fiona Grant||Episode: "A Clockwork Florida Orange"|
|2000||Tales of the South Seas||Kat||Episode: "The Outlaws"|
|2002||Lost in Oz||Alexandra Wilder||Movie|
|2003||Monk||Jenna Ryan||Episode: "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater"|
|2003||L.A. Confidential||Lynn Bracken||Unsold pilot|
|2003–04||Alias||Lauren Reed||Main role: season 3; guest star: season 4 (23 episodes)|
|2006||Two Twisted||Mathilda Banks||Episode: "There's Something About Kyanna"|
|2008||In Treatment||Laura Hill||8 episodes|
|2008–09||Grey's Anatomy||Sadie Harris||8 episodes (season 5)|
|2009||U.S. Attorney||Susan Shelle||Movie|
|2010||Lie to Me||Clara Musso||3 episodes|
|2010||Second Chances||Kate Fischer||Movie|
|2011||Bag of Bones||Mattie Devore||Movie|
|2011||The Slap||Rosie||8 episodes|
|2012||Hunted||Sam Hunter/Alex Kent||8 episodes|
|2013–14||The Good Wife||Marilyn Garbanza||8 episodes|
|2015||The Slap (U.S.)||Rosie||8 episodes|
|2016||Heartbeat||Dr. Alexandra Panttiere||Main role|
Awards and nominations
|1994||Logie Awards||Best New Talent||Home and Away||Won|
|1995||Most Popular Actress||Home and Away||Won|
|2008||Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||In Treatment||Nominated|
|2008||Australian Film Institute||Best Actress||In Treatment||Nominated|
|2011||Equity Ensemble Awards||Most Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Television Movie or Miniseries||The Slap||Won|
|2011||Logie Awards||Most Outstanding Actress||The Slap||Won|
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