Shannyn Sossamon

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Shannyn Sossamon
Shannyn Sossamon.jpg
Sossamon at the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con International.
Born Shannon Marie Kahololani Sossamon
(1978-10-03) October 3, 1978 (age 36)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actress, dancer, model, musician
Years active 1997–present
Partner(s) Dallas Clayton (2002–2004)
Children 2

Shannon Marie Kahololani Sossamon, popularly known as Shannyn Sossamon (born October 3, 1978), is an American actress and musician. After graduating from high school, she moved to Los Angeles to study dance; instead, she started working as a model mainly for television commercials. Her first major film role was in A Knight's Tale (2001), a box office success that brought Sossamon much more recognition. It was followed by appearances in comedies such as 40 Days and 40 Nights and The Rules of Attraction (both 2002). She did further film work in the features The Order (2003), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and The Holiday (2006).

Sossamon was cast in the indie comedy Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), where her performance was critically acclaimed, and later had the starring part on the CBS supernatural drama, Moonlight, that ran for one season from 2007 to 2008. She played the lead role of troubled Beth Raymond in the horror film One Missed Call (2008), another box office success that earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination. She has focused on smaller scale projects as well, appearing in a number of independent films, including Life Is Hot in Cracktown (2009), Road to Nowhere (2010), The Day (2011) and The End of Love (2012). She has also done more television work, as in the first seasons of HBO's comedy How to Make It in America (2010) and ABC's drama Mistresses (2013). Sossamon signed on to appear as a series regular in M. Night Shyamalan's limited show for FOX, Wayward Pines, which premiered on May 14, 2015.

As a musician, she provided vocals and drums to Warpaint from 2004 to 2008, when she left the group to focus more on acting. Sossamon's sole recording with the band is the 2009 EP, Exquisite Corpse. Sossamon has directed and produced short and musical videos, released through Maudegone Theater, an online-video project she created on her own in 2010.

Early life[edit]

Sossamon was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of Sherry Sossamon, a nurse, and Todd Lindberg. After a divorce, her mother married Randy Goldstein.[1] She is of Hawaiian, French, Dutch, Irish, Filipino, and German descent.[2] The y in her first name was an adolescent alteration in 1995. Sossamon grew up in Reno, Nevada, and attended Galena High School there. The day after her high school graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to study dance.[3]

Career[edit]

1997–2002: Modelling, A Knight's Tale and breakthrough[edit]

After moving to Los Angeles, she began to work as a DJ, booking gigs in local clubs and performance venues. While Sossamon was pursuing a career in dance, she actually never planned to become a professional dancer, recalling: "It was more like I just love to do this. It wasn't clear what I wanted, but I was fine with that. I had never needed a plan. I'm really good at feeling safe in the unknown in the aspect of planning your life".[4] At the beginning of her career, Sossamon modeled for various companies including Sassy Magazine, Unionbay Clothing, American Eagle Outfitters, and Planned Parenthood. She appeared in two television commercials for Gap and starred in music videos for artists such as Daft Punk, The Goo Goo Dolls, Cher, Mick Jagger, DJ Quik, and Korn, and also served as a lead actress in a musical video for rock group 9xdead. In 1997, she appeared as a fashion model, a girl and a trophy presenter in several Mr. Show episodes. In 1999, Sossamon was discovered by casting director Francine Maisler, while assisting a fellow DJ at Gwyneth Paltrow's brother's birthday party.

After going through several auditions, Sossamon beat Kate Hudson for the lead female role in the 2001 film A Knight's Tale opposite Heath Ledger. The film received average reviews,[5] with her part getting an equally mixed response; Robin Clifford for Reeling Reviews concluded that Sossamon was "pretty but little more than an object of affection"[6] and Rob Blackwelder, of SPLICEDwire, called her role "the movie's weakest link", noting that although Sossamon was a "wonderfully wicked flirt", her character "isn't terribly well established and she's the most jarringly modern sight in this ancient tale".[7] Garnering $117,487,473 with a budget of $65 million, it became a moderate success at the worldwide box office.[8] A Knight's Tale earned the actress a Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Female Performance as well as two Teen Choice Awards nominations and four MTV Movie Awards nominations, including "Best Breakthrough Performance".

In 2002, she starred in Miramax Films' romantic comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights, alongside Josh Hartnett. The film received mixed reviews from critics but was a major box office success after earning a worldwide total of $95,146,283 on a production budget of $17 million.[9] Sossamon's part gained critical acclaim in general; About.com noted that she "is already making a name for herself as a romantic leading lady. With starring roles opposite two of Hollywood's hottest young actors (Hartnett and Heath Ledger) under her belt, Shannyn's star is rising fast. Her exotic looks separate her from the pack, and her performances have, thus far, been exceptional".[10] Praising Sossamon and co-star Harnett, Elvis Mitchell wrote for The New York Times: "Mr. Hartnett matches up with Ms. Sossamon, and not only because their eyebrows signal that they are both Vulcans. She is a more direct performer; what she does is not acting – yet – but she can look as if she's listening. Her approach contrasts hilariously with his gentility".[11] Afterwards, both actors received a Teen Choice Award nomination for "Choice Film Chemistry".[12]

Sossamon subsequently played a lead role in Roger Avary's dark satirical ensemble The Rules of Attraction, an adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis book of the same name. The picture included scenes of suicide, heavy drug use, and sexual content. The film received extremely mixed reviews from critics; most either loving it or hating it.[13][14] Critical response for Sossamon was more favorable, with website Joblo.com commenting that the actress was "very believable and empathetic" as her character.[15] David Noh, of Film Journal International found her performance "heartbreaking" and described it as "an uncanny blend of fragile-fey and urchin-tough, marked by a feverish wit which often proves her undoing as much as her salvation".[16] Also showing approval of her portrayal, director Avary remarked during an interview the actress was "like a wild animal you can't really control. What she does and what she brings is complete and honest truth to the scene. Something real", and author Ellis, stated that she "hasn't had much of a chance to shine before, but she's a star. She seems freer in this movie than she was before and is totally empathetic, which is a quality that doesn't come easily to most actors".[17] Rules of Attraction is considered a cult hit;[18] it grossed $11,819,244 worldwide, almost tripling its budget ($4 million).[19]

2003–06: The Order, career break and further film work[edit]

Sossamon and Heath Ledger were cast together again and starred in Brian Helgeland's supernatural thriller The Order. The film revolved around the investigation of the suspicious death of an excommunicated priest and the discovery of a Sin Eater headquartered in Rome. It was released in late 2003, to extremely poor reviews;[20] Critical reception for Sossamon was average with 7M Pictures finding the movie "well acted" by the leads but eFilmCritic.com remarking that she, "so charming in both "A Knight's Tale and 20 Days and 40 Nights, is given very little to do besides utilize her 'tortured soul with dark eye makeup' schtick".[21][22] The movie also made little interest at the box office, opening at number six at the charts; it finished its theatrical run with $11 million on a budget of $35 million.[23] After Sossamon filmed the picture, she became pregnant and took a short hiatus from working on film productions; "It was almost like she was out on a lark, and she found herself in this big circumstance that she hadn't planned on, which I think made it easier for her to go off and have a baby and stop working", director Helgerland said on the actress' motherhood and subsequent acting break.[4] After her son was born in 2004, she guest-starred with her only acting appearance of the year, in the episode "Doubt" on the NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Sossamon made her return to films though a main part in the low-budget horror film Devour, that was released straight-to-video in early 2005. The picture, co-starring Jensen Ackles and Dominique Swain, was a critical failure,[24] but the cast's performances gained a better reception than the movie itself, with DVD Talk noting that Sossamon, alongside Swain, "do the best they can with the material they're given, but end up as not much more than eye-candy stuck in a sea of aimless gore and maddeningly vague plot droppings".[25] She then was cast in small roles in both movies Undiscovered and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The former was a box-office and critical failure, while the latter received critical praise but failed commercially, grossing only $13,105,837 compared to a budget of $15 million.

Sossamon with Wristcutters director Goran Dukić at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

In 2006, Sossamon was cast as the female lead in the indie drama feature Wristcutters: A Love Story, which was based on an Etgar Keret short story and co-starred Patrick Fugit, Tom Waits, and Will Arnett. Wristcutters revolved around two characters who fall in love in purgatory after committing suicide. It was shown at both The Sundance Film Festival and The Seattle International Film Festival Awards in early 2006, before going on to open in a limited theatrical run in October 2007.[26] It was nominated for several awards including Sundance's Grand Jury Prize, two Independent Spirit Awards, the Humanitas Prize.[27] Her chemistry with co-star Fugit was praised by Matthew Turner of View London, who remarked that "Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon are both superb, generating a sweet chemistry and sparking off each other well. Sossamon, in particular, gives her best performance to date."[28] She eventually played Maggie, Jack Black's girlfriend in Nancy Meyers's 2006 romantic comedy The Holiday. Co-starring Kate Winslet Cameron Diaz, and Jude Law, the movie was a major commercial success, with $205,135,324 grossed worldwide.[29]

2007–08: Moonlight and One Missed Call[edit]

Sossamon was next seen in Courteney Cox's drama series Dirt on FX. Her role was Kira Klay, a celebrity who after realizing that she is pregnant, kills herself. Her character appeared in five episodes of the show's first season. She then starred in the horror film Catacombs alongside singer Pink. It was FEARnet and Lions Gate Entertainment's first feature collaboration. It received a theatrical release in countries like Italy and Japan throughout 2007, but came out directly-to-DVD in United States in February 2008.[30] The reviews for the film as for Sossamon's role were moslty negative; About.com wrote that the her "Ambien-induced acting doesn't help matters" and DVD Verdict stated: "This film is all Sossamon and I feel for her. Aside from the uninspired twist finale, her performance is comprised solely of gasping and looking worried and furrowing her brow and screaming and gazing worriedly at her flickering flashlight".[31][32] Sossamon signed on as a series regular on CBS's vampire drama Moonlight, to play the character of Coraline Duvall. The series began airing on September 28, 2007, and was watched by 8.54 million viewers,[33] finishing first among total viewers and adults 18–49 for its night. CBS ordered a 16-episode first season, but over the season, viewership decreased to around 7.5 million viewers.[34][35] The series had a very large fan base, but despite fans' efforts, CBS canceled the series after the first season.

Sossamon was cast in the starring role (as Beth Raymond) in the horror remake One Missed Call. The film, also starring Ed Burns, Azura Skye, and Margaret Cho, received an extremely negative reaction from film critics but proved to be a commercial profit; it "fared decently" with an estimated $13.5 million on its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo, and went to gross $42 million worldwide, well over its $20 million production budget. The motion picture also received somewhat of a cult following afer it found success on DVD and Blu-ray, generating sales of more than $25 million since its release on April 22, 2008.[36] As the movie itself, critical reception for Sossamon's part was largely unfavorable, as well; Matthew Turner called her and co-star Burns "two of Hollywood's least interesting actors" and concluded that "for the most part the film doesn't even bother trying to generate any chemistry between them".[37] On a similar note, Steve Newton, for Georgia Straight, felt that Sossamon "tries desperately to bring some substance to her role as heroic victim-to-be Beth Raymond, but Andrew Klavan’s preposterous script makes it a lost cause".[38] Despite the critical reaction, the actress was nominated for the "Choice Film Actress – Horror" Award at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards for her portrayal.

2009–present: Indie film route, television work[edit]

She played Concetta, a woman faced with the challenges of raising her sick child and supporting her husband in the indie drama Life Is Hot in Cracktown, directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, and co-starring Kerry Washington, Lara Flynn Boyle and Brandon Routh. The movie was first screened at the 2009 Fantasia International Film Festival;[39] it received a limited theatrical release in June before going to DVD in August the same year.[40] After making a brief appearance in the romantic comedy Our Family Wedding, she appeared as one of the leads in the thriller The Heavy, which on 16 April 2010, premiered straight-to-video in the United States and received a limited theatrical release in the UK on the same day. At the time, she served as a feature jury at the 8th Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles,[41] and signed on to play a recurring character (Gingy Wu) in the HBO television series How to Make It in America.[42] The series premiered in February 2010,[43] with Sossamon appearing in eight episodes throughout the show's first season. She created Maudegone Theater also in 2010, an online-video project under which she releases short and musical features directed by herself.[44] Eight videos have been premiered under the moniker as of 2013.[45] During an interview with Keba Robinson, of Hook and Line magazine, Sossamon explained hat her initiative for creating Maudegone was about having "some sort of control and do creative things and feel like it was something that I started. I like the feeling of independence and freedom".[46]

The romantic drama Road to Nowhere – starring Sossamon[47] – opened at the 67th Venice International Film Festival in September 2010.[48] The actress was the first person to be cast in the movie after writer Steven Gaydos saw her in a restaurant rehearsing a scene with another person. Reluctant, Gaydos gave Sossamon his card saying, "I don't do this often, but I wonder if you or your agent would contact [director] Monte Hellman".[49] The picture received a very limited theatrical release and has made $40,294 in the United States and $121,325 in other markets, for a worldwide total of $161,619.[50] It also generated moslty positive reactions from critics, with Sossamon's role gaining a similar response.[51] Kevin Thomas, of Los Angeles Times remarked that the film "ultimately stands on the beauty and talent of its femme fatale, and Shannyn Sossamon is so stunning and gifted she actually withstands a remark comparing her to Louise Brooks".[52] Meanwhile, Colin Convert for Star Tribune wrote in his review: "The key to the movie is casting the right femme fatale, and non-actress Shannyn Sossamon, the mystery woman's eerie doppelgänger, wins the part and her director's heart".[53] When asked in a 2013 interview about what roles she was most proud of to date, she responded that those she had played in Road to Nowhere and 2006's Wristcutters.[54]

She was cast with Ashley Bell, Dominic Monaghan and Shawn Ashmore in the independent thriller The Day,[55] which follows a group of people fighting to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic future. The picture premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and later received a theatrical release in a limited run in August 2012.[56] It received generally mixed or average reviews;[57] while Los Angeles Times and New York Daily News praised the cast,[58][59] Blu-Ray.com and Paste magazine criticized Sossamon for "weaving in and out" of her character's southern accent.[60][61] In January 15, 2012, The Cyclist, a short art film where Sossamon starred, premiered;[62] it was screened later that year at the Las Vegas Film Festival.[63]

She appeared in the indie romantic drama The End of Love, which debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and opened theatrically in a limited run in March 2013. The movie, as Sossamon herself, received largely positive reviews.[64] Chicago Sun-Times critic Charlie Schmidlin concluded that the actress "radiates warmth" and noted that her part in the movie "is the most natural and welcome performance I've seen from her".[65] The Hollywood Reporter and Time Out found Shannyn "captivating" and "enormously appealing", respectively.[66][67] The actress eventually appeared in Desire, another short art feature and a collaboration between Jaguar and Ridley Scott Associates, to help kick off the 2014 Jaguar F-Type.[68] The 13-minute video, directed by Adam Smith and co-starring Damian Lewis, is about a car delivery man who gets caught up in a dangerous chase involving a woman in trouble (who is played by Sossamon).[69] It had initially a debut at the 2013 Sundance London Film and Music Festival and was then posted on YouTube.[70] Around that time, she debuted as Alex in a recurring role during the first season of the ABC drama Mistresses.[71]

On June 26, 2013, it was announced that Sossamon was cast to play one of the main parts in M. Night Shyamalan's limited series for FOX, Wayward Pines.[72] In the show, premiered on May 14, 2015,[73][74] her role is Theresa Burke, wife of Matt Dillon's character.[75] Wayward Pines has been met with mostly favorable reviews from critics[76] and after a debut described as "soft" by Deadline,[77] the viewership for the series has grown in subsequent episodes.[78][79][80] Sossamon got a main part in a short film called Limina, directed by Florian Halbedl and Joshua M. Ferguson under their production company, Turbid Lake Pictures.[81][82] She will play Maria, a woman "whose mourning process is influenced by a curious gender-fluid child".[83][84] She also has the starring role in the horror sequel Sinister 2,[85] slated to be released on August 21, 2015.[86][87][88]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

She dated children's book illustrator and author Dallas Clayton from 2002 to 2004. They had a son, Audio Science Clayton, born on May 29, 2003.[89] Though she admitted not being prepared for having a child, she focused on her pregnancy and motherhood, laying aside acting more or less for the next four years: "I wasn't ready to be a mom. But if you have any desire to be a better person, having a baby kicks it right into gear. Now I'm a better actress and a better mother".[90] In March 2012, she announced that she had given birth to her second son, Mortimer.[91][92] In 2015, Sossamon stated during an interview with Details magazine that she was in a "committed relationship" with the father of Mortimer.[93]

Music and interests[edit]

Besides acting, Sossamon continues to study music and dance. After having Audio Science, she started to play guitar very frequently, with lessons about four days a week, as she wanted to create a band with her sister Jenny Lee Lindberg, who knew how to play the bass. Shortly afterwards, they joined Warpaint, an indie rock and psychedelic band formed in Los Angeles.[94] As all the members were playing the guitar at the beginning, she became the original drummer of the group: "When we all started the band together, no one was playing drums, it was like all of us on guitars, I was on guitar with them, and we needed a drummer. We tried out a pool of drummers and then one day I was just practicing, I just decided to sit on the drum kit and it really worked and I had so much fun".[46]

Her sole recording with Warpaint until she left the group to focus on her acting career was the 2008 EP, Exquisite Corpse. When asked about pursuing a musical career as a solo artist following her work with the band, Sossamon responded that although she writes a lot of songs by herself, "it just requires focus and discipline in a way that I need to have for other things right now".[46] Despite her musical work, Sossamon has clarified she rarely calls herself a musician, as she does not "practice or play nearly as much as the great ones do. Most of my days and thoughts are taken up by stories, feelings, and pictures. Music is present in them, too, but always having to do with a picture. When I work with musicians, I actually just see them as actors or performers in general that day. I don’t separate them from the duties they are to perform that day".[95]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Knight's Tale, AA Knight's Tale Jocelyn
2002 40 Days and 40 Nights Erica Sutton
Rules of Attraction, TheThe Rules of Attraction Lauren Hynde
2003 Wholey Moses Max Short film
Order, TheThe Order Mara Sinclair
2005 Devour Marisol Straight-to-video
Chasing Ghosts Taylor Spencer
I Hate You Jo Short film
Double, TheThe Double Melanie Short film
Undiscovered Josie
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Pink Hair Girl
2006 Wristcutters: A Love Story Mikal Limited theatrical release
Holiday, TheThe Holiday Maggie
2007 Catacombs Victoria Straight-to-video
2008 One Missed Call Beth Raymond
2009 Life Is Hot in Cracktown Concetta Limited theatrical release
2010 Our Family Wedding Ashley McPhee
Heavy, TheThe Heavy Claire Straight-to-video
Road to Nowhere Laurel Graham/Velma Duran Limited theatrical release
2011 Day, TheThe Day Shannon Limited theatrical release
Fight for Your Right Revisited Café Patron Short film
2012 The End of Love Lydia Limited theatrical release
The Cyclist Girl Short film
2013 Desire Melody Short film
2015 Sinister 2 Courtney
2016 Limina Maria Short film; pre-production
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1997 Mr. Show Fashion Model / Girl / Trophy Presenter 3 episodes
2004 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Myra Denning 1 episode
2007 Dirt Kira Klay 5 episodes
2007–2008 Moonlight Coraline 10 episodes
2010 How to Make It in America Gingy Wu 8 episodes (first season)
2013 Mistresses Alex 8 episodes
2014 Over the Garden Wall Lorna (voice) 1 episode
2015 Wayward Pines Theresa Burke 10 episodes
Video games
Year Title Role Notes
2012 Hitman: Absolution Jade Nguyen Voice

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2001 Teen Choice Award Choice Film Breakout Performance A Knight's Tale Nominated
Choice Film Chemistry (shared with Heath Ledger)
2002 MTV Movie Award Best Breakthrough Performance
Best Kiss (shared with Heath Ledger)
Best Musical Sequence (shared with Heath Ledger)
Teen Choice Award Choice Film Chemistry (shared with Josh Hartnett) 40 Days and 40 Nights
Young Hollywood Award Breakthrough Female Performance Won
2008 Teen Choice Award Choice Film Actress – Horror One Missed Call Nominated

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External links[edit]