Sheryl Lee

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Sheryl Lee
Sheryl Lee 01 (14948055197).jpg
Lee at the Fan Expo Canada 2014
Born Sheryl Lynn Lee
(1967-04-22) April 22, 1967 (age 50)
Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany
Alma mater University of Colorado Boulder
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Jesse Diamond (m. 2000; divorced[1])
Children 1
Awards Spirit of Sundance Award
1995 for her body of work

Sheryl Lynn Lee (born April 22, 1967) is a German-born American[citation needed] film, stage, and television actress. After studying acting in college, Lee relocated to Seattle, Washington to work in theater, where she was cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson on the 1990 cult TV series Twin Peaks and in the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. After completing Twin Peaks, she returned to theater, appearing in the title role of Salome on Broadway opposite Al Pacino.

Notable film roles include as Astrid Kirchherr in Backbeat (1994), as well as a lead role in the drama Mother Night (1996), based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut. From 2000 to 2009, Lee only appeared in four films before having a supporting part in the drama Winter's Bone (2010). In 2016, she appeared in Café Society, and also completed the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks (2017), reprising her role of Laura Palmer.

Early life[edit]

Lee was born in Augsburg, Bavaria, West Germany, the daughter of an artist mother and architect father.[2] She grew up in Boulder, Colorado, United States, where she was a graduate of Fairview High School (class of 1985). After graduating, Lee moved to Pasadena, California where she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and later attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, and the University of Colorado.

After several years of studying, Lee moved to Seattle, Washington where she acted in several stage plays[3][4] and appeared in several commercials.[5] She studied with theater director Mark Jenkins at the now-defunct Empty Space Theater in Seattle.[6]


Early roles and theater[edit]

Lee's first role was as the dead Laura Palmer in the television series Twin Peaks. To save on money, creator David Lynch intended to cast a local girl from Seattle "just to play a dead girl".[7] The local girl ended up being Sheryl Lee. Lynch asked Lee to audition for him after seeing a publicity photo of her in Seattle from one of the plays she was starring in at the time.[8] "But no one — not Mark, me, anyone — had any idea that she could act, or that she was going to be so powerful just being dead."[7] Indeed, the image of Lee wrapped in plastic became one of the show's most enduring and memorable images. When Lynch shot the home movie that James Hurley takes of Donna Hayward and Laura, he realized that Lee had something special. "She did do another scene — the video with Donna on the picnic — and it was that scene that did it."[7] As a result, Sheryl Lee became a semi-regular addition to the cast, appearing in flashbacks as Laura, and becoming a recurring character, Laura's cousin Maddy Ferguson later in the series (a role which was reportedly written because Lynch, impressed with her abilities, wanted to give her a fuller role on the show). She also starred in the prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which elaborated on events leading up to Laura Palmer's death.

On stage, Lee starred on Broadway in 1992 alongside Al Pacino in Oscar Wilde's Salome as the title role, in the Circle in the Square Theatre, under the direction of Robert Allan Ackerman. The play co-starred Suzanne Bertish, Esai Morales and Arnold Vosloo.[9]

In 1994, she was cast as Astrid Kirchherr in the film Backbeat, a bio-pic of the early career of The Beatles opposite Stephen Dorff. The following years, Lee played the part of Liza in Gary Walkow's 1995 adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella Notes from Underground opposite Henry Czerny, starred alongside Craig Sheffer in Bliss (1997) and played the role of Katrina in John Carpenter's 1998 film Vampires opposite James Woods and Daniel Baldwin.

Television and film[edit]

Lee starred opposite Anthony Michael Hall as the sweet but vengeful housewife Eve Robbins in the 2001 USA Cable movie Hitched. In 2001, she presented the I Love 1990 segment of the BBC's popular I Love 1990s series. In the 2003 television series Kingpin, she played the role of Marlene Cadena opposite Yancey Arias and Bobby Cannavale.

In 2004, Lee was the original choice for the role of Mary-Alice Young on Desperate Housewives. It would have been the second time she would have played a dead character on a series; however, the producers ultimately chose to replace her with Brenda Strong, as producers thought that Lee was not right for the part.[10] Strong commented on the casting change for her character, explaining, "I think it was a conceptual shift ... There certainly wasn't something wrong with what [Lee] did. It was just that instead of vanilla they wanted chocolate, and I happened to be chocolate."

In 2005, she played the recurring role of Ellie Harp, the biological mother of Peyton Sawyer (played by Hilarie Burton), who battles breast cancer, on the third season of the WB Network series One Tree Hill.

In 2007 and 2008, Lee appeared on the ABC dramedy, Dirty Sexy Money as Andrea Smithson, the mother of Brian Darling's (Glenn Fitzgerald) illegitimate child.

Lee, along with several other Twin Peaks cast members, guest starred in a special Twin Peaks-themed episode of Psych, titled "Dual Spires." Other cast members reunited with Lee included Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Lenny Von Dohlen (Harold Smith), Robyn Lively (Lana Budding Milford), and Catherine E. Coulson (The Log Lady). This episode marked the first time several Twin Peaks cast members had been reunited on television in almost two decades.[citation needed]

In 2010, she appeared in a supporting role as April in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone (which won best picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010). The film is about a seventeen-year-old girl (Jennifer Lawrence) in the rural Ozarks, caring for her mentally-ill mother and her younger brother and sister, when she discovers that her father put their house and land up as a bond for a court appearance, at which he failed to appear. Lee won two Awards for Best Ensemble at Detroit Film Critics Society and Gotham Awards, shared with the cast. Lee played Lucie Sliger in the 2011 crime thriller Texas Killing Fields alongside Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Chloë Grace Moretz.

In the art drama thriller White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), written and directed by Gregg Araki, she played May opposite Shailene Woodley and Eva Green. Lee also starred in the lead role in the drama The Makings of You (2014) alongside her former Twin Peaks co-star Grace Zabriskie. In 2015, at the Twin Peaks UK Festival, Lee confirmed that she would be returning to Twin Peaks for the 2017 limited Showtime run.[11]

In 2016, she appeared in a supporting role as Air in the Netflix production Rebirth, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and had a small part as Karen in Café Society, written and directed by Woody Allen. The film had its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Personal life[edit]

Sheryl Lee at 42nd Emmy Awards (1990)

Lee has dated[when?] David Duchovny, who was one of her Twin Peaks cast-mates. She was at one time married to Jesse Diamond, a photographer and son of singer and songwriter Neil Diamond. They have a son, Elijah, born in 2000.[12]

In 2014, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called neutropenia.[12]

Philanthropy and activism[edit]

Lee is an avid member of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and has assertively campaigned against fur and mistreatment of animals.[13]

In October 2008, she participated in the 3rd Munchkin's Project Pink annual breast cancer awareness campaign to raise money for breast cancer research.[14][15][16]

Additionally, Lee has also participated in various environmentalist events and charities: In November 2000, she attended the premiere of the public awareness campaign Why Are We Here?, to raise awareness for biodiversity protection,[17] In 2011, Lee attended the iMatter March in Denver, Colorado to raise awareness about climate change,[18] and also supported the Ride for Renewables project to promote renewable energy.[19] In December 2011, Lee advocated the protection of wolves and supported the environmental organization WildEarth Guardians' "Wolves in the American West" campaign.[20]

In September 2012, Lee signed environmental activist Tom Weis' open letter calling on President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to withdraw their support for the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would transport tar sands from Montana to Texas. Other signatories included climate scientist James Hansen and actors Daryl Hannah, Mariel Hemingway, and Ed Begley, Jr.[21]

On December 8, 2012, Lee performed poems written by herself as part of a collaborative performance along with artist Marina DeBris, dancer Maya Gabay, and musician Marla Leigh, for the U.S. National Committee for UN Women's First Annual Special Assembly: Women, Climate Change, and Human Rights.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 The Pink Chiquitas Pink Chiquita
1990 Wild at Heart The Good Witch
1992 Jersey Girl Tara
1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Laura Palmer Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
1994 The Can
1994 Don't Do It Michelle
1994 Backbeat Astrid Kirchherr
1995 Fall Time Patty / Carol
1995 Homage Lucy Samuel
1995 Notes from Underground Liza
1996 Mother Night Helga Noth / Resi Noth
1997 Bliss Maria
1997 This World, Then the Fireworks Lois Archer
1997 The Blood Oranges Fiona
1998 Vampires Katrina Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1998 Dante's View Sam Kingsley
1999 Kiss the Sky Andy
1999 Angel's Dance Angelica "Angel" Chaste
2002 Children on Their Birthdays Elinore Murphy
2005 Paradise, Texas Betsy Kinney
2010 Winter's Bone April Won — Detroit Film Critics Society for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Won — Gotham Independent Film Awards for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
2011 Texas Killing Fields Lucie Sliger
2014 White Bird in a Blizzard May
2014 The Makings of You Judy Also producer
2014 Jackie & Ryan Miriam
2016 Rebirth Air
2016 Café Society Karen Stern
2017 Dead Ink Archive Alley Short film
2017 #SquadGoals Emily Hodges post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Laura Palmer / Maddy Ferguson 18 episodes
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Awards for Best Prime Time Death Scene
1991 Love, Lies and Murder Patti Bailey Television film
1992 Red Shoe Diaries Kate Lyons Episode: "Jake's Story"
1994 Guinevere Guinevere Television film
1994 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Catherine Episode: "Another Woman"
1994 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Actress (voice) Episode: "Krumm Goes Hollywood"
1995 Follow the River Mary Draper Ingles Television film
1997 David Bathsheba 3 episodes
1998–1999 L.A. Doctors Dr. Sarah Church 22 episodes
2001 Hitched Eve Robbins Television film
2003 Kingpin Marlene McDillon Cadena 6 episodes
Nominated — Prism Award for Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries
2003 Without a Trace Tina Hodges Episode: "Coming Home"
2004 Desperate Housewives Mary Alice Young Unaired pilot
2005–2006 One Tree Hill Elizabeth "Ellie" Harp 9 episodes
2006 The Secrets of Comfort House Wendy Television film
2006 CSI: NY Ellen Garner Episode: "And Here's To You, Mrs Azrael"
2006 House M.D. Stephanie Green Episode: "Cane and Able"
2007 Manchild Mary Pilot
2007 State of Mind Leslie Petrovsky Episode: "Pilot"
2007–2009 Dirty Sexy Money Andrea Smithson 12 episodes
2010 Lie to Me Janet Brooks Episode: "Bullet Bump"
2010 Psych Dr. Donna Gooden Episode: "Dual Spires"
2012 Perception Lacey Pinderhall Episode: "86'd"
2016 Rosewood Brenda Downs Episode: "Keratin & Kissyface
2017 Twin Peaks Laura Palmer

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role
1994 Murder Mystery 3: Who Killed Brett Penance? Lucie Fairwell
1994 Murder Mystery 4: Who Killed Taylor French? Lucie Fairwell
2010 BioShock 2 Gossiping Baby Jane Splicer

Stage credits[edit]

Year Title Role Theatre Notes
1986 Crimes of the Heart National Theatre Conservatory
1988 Electric River Pioneer Square Theater
1989 Emerald City Empty Space Theatre
1991 Love Letters Melissa Gardner Canon Theater
1992 Salome Salome Circle in the Square Theatre


Year Title Notes
2017 The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer[23] voice


  1. ^ Wedemeyer, Jessica (June 6, 2016). "Sheryl Lee now - Twin Peaks cast". Wonderwall. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Sheryl Lee". 
  3. ^ "Exclusive Sheryl Lee Interview". Twin Peaks on Showtime. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Wenzel, Jon (11 April 2014). "Sheryl Lee on the "Twin Peaks" anniversary, her Colorado roots and why she's coming back this summer". Denver Post. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Burns, Andy (February 24, 2015). "She's Filled With Secrets: The Sheryl Lee Interview". Wrapped In Plastic. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  6. ^ Buck, Jerry (February 17, 1991). "`Twin Peeks' Sheryl Lee Is Accused of Murder This Time Around on NBC". Tulsa World. Retrieved April 9, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c Rodley, Chris (1997). Lynch on Lynch. London: Faber & Faber Limited. ISBN 0-571-19548-2. 
  8. ^ Gliatto, Tom (1991). "With Laura Palmer Wrapped, Sheryl Lee Plays A Role Based on a Nightmare Darker Than Twin Peaks Could Ever Be". Details.  [1]
  9. ^ Gussow, Mel (June 26, 1992). "Review/Theater; Al Pacino's Very Personal Vision Makes a Splash". New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  10. ^ McDougall, Charles (January 5, 2005). "Desperately seeking a ratings hit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  11. ^ Locker, Melissa (January 17, 2015). "Laura Palmer is Returning to Twin Peaks". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 20, 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Staff Writer (November 11, 2014). "Twin Peaks' Sheryl Lee reveals blood disorder has left her struggling". Colorado Newsday. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Sheryl Lee Takes a Swipe at Animal Acts". People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Munchkin, Inc. – maker of award-winning infant and toddler products is once again reminding women everywhere "Don't Duck a Breast Exam" with the return of its successful Project Pink breast cancer awareness campaign.". October 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Sheryl Lee supports breast cancer research". October 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Munchkin, Inc. Reminds Women Everywhere "Don't Duck a Breast Exam" with Third Annual Project Pink Charity Campaign". FindArticles. Open Publishing. August 5, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "November 15 Premiere of 'Why Are We Here?' to Feature Bevy of Environmentally-Concerned Celebrities". November 13, 2000. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  18. ^ Roberts, Michael (May 16, 2011). "Darryl Hannah, Sheryl "Laura Palmer" Lee add star power to climate change march". Westword. Village Voice Media. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Ride Friends". Ride for Renewables. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Actress Sheryl Lee Advocates For Wolves". WildEarth Guardians. December 2011. Retrieved January 2, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Open Letter to President Obama and Governor Romney: Defend America Against Keystone XL Economic, Public Health & National Security Threat". Ride for Renewables. September 26, 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "Women, Climate Change and Human Rights: UN Women-USNC Greater Los Angeles Chapter First Annual Special Assembly". GenerationGreen.TV. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  23. ^ Plaugic, Lizzie (February 15, 2017). "Audible is releasing an audiobook version of a Twin Peaks spinoff novel". The Verge. Retrieved April 21, 2017. 

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