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Initially touted as one of Hollywood's most promising starlets, actress Sean Young experienced a precipitous fall from grace within a decade of making her film debut. A former model and dancer, Young made an early splash in popular films like the Bill Murray comedy "Stripes" (1981) and the futuristic noir "Blade Runner" (1982), opposite Harrison Ford. Although not every project would yield a hit - director David Lynch's big-budget sci-fi flop "Dune" (1984) being the most notorious - high-profile movies like the Kevin Costner thriller "No Way Out" (1987) indicated a career on the rise. Things began to change with repeated rumors of personality clashes between the actress and her co-workers, including a well-reported battle with her "Wall Street" (1987) director, Oliver Stone. Rumors turned to outright scandal after James Woods, Young's co-star in the cocaine drama "The Boost" (1988), filed a lawsuit against Young, claiming she had stalked him after he rebuffed her advances. Less ominous, although equally embarrassing, was Young's ill-conceived ploy to win the role of Catwoman by dressing up as the latex-clad villain and storming the set of director Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" (1992). An...
Initially touted as one of Hollywood's most promising starlets, actress Sean Young experienced a precipitous fall from grace within a decade of making her film debut. A former model and dancer, Young made an early splash in popular films like the Bill Murray comedy "Stripes" (1981) and the futuristic noir "Blade Runner" (1982), opposite Harrison Ford. Although not every project would yield a hit - director David Lynch's big-budget sci-fi flop "Dune" (1984) being the most notorious - high-profile movies like the Kevin Costner thriller "No Way Out" (1987) indicated a career on the rise. Things began to change with repeated rumors of personality clashes between the actress and her co-workers, including a well-reported battle with her "Wall Street" (1987) director, Oliver Stone. Rumors turned to outright scandal after James Woods, Young's co-star in the cocaine drama "The Boost" (1988), filed a lawsuit against Young, claiming she had stalked him after he rebuffed her advances. Less ominous, although equally embarrassing, was Young's ill-conceived ploy to win the role of Catwoman by dressing up as the latex-clad villain and storming the set of director Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" (1992). An unflattering role in the Jim Carrey slapstick comedy "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" (1994) marked one of Young's increasingly rare movie appearances over the decades that followed. A later career - consisting mostly of television and direct-to-DVD efforts - was less prolific than Young's widely reported stints in rehab and run-ins with the law, all of which sadly overshadowed her earlier leading lady promise.
Born Mary Sean Young in Louisville, KY on Nov. 20, 1959, Young and her siblings, brother Donald Jr. and sister Cathleen (who later became a producer) were raised in Ohio. After attending Cleveland Heights High School, she trained as a dancer at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Northern Michigan and at the School of American Ballet in New York City. Young settled in NYC after graduation and immediately landed a small role in the Merchant/Ivory film "Jane Austen in New York" (1980). Brassy and unafraid to speak her mind, both on and off the screen, she showed a knack for comedy in her next role, Harold Ramis' Army sweetheart in "Stripes" (1981), and again as the female lead in Garry Marshall's soap opera parody "Young Doctors in Love" (1982). That same year, Young's cooler side was put to excellent use as detective Harrison Ford's android lover in Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." Though she was widely praised for her performance, reports of conflict between Young and both Scott and Ford made the publicity rounds, and set what would become a precedent in media coverage of her career.
Young smoldered in several high-profile television productions during this period; she was an aspiring starlet who falls for a psychologist (Peter Strauss) in 1985's "Tender is the Night" and dallied with detective Kris Kristofferson in 1986's "Blood and Orchids." The following year, she landed her breakout hit with the hot-blooded neo-noir "No Way Out," in which she played a military mistress who makes trouble for Navy man Kevin Costner, beginning with some sexy business in the back of a limo. Unfortunately, the picture proved to be one of her last substantial hits; clashes with director Oliver Stone and co-star Charlie Sheen led to a significant cut in her role as Michael Douglas' wife in "Wall Street" (1987) and her turn with James Woods as husband-and-wife cocaine addicts in "The Boost" (1988) was undermined by bizarre stories of her stalking Woods and leaving disfigured dolls on his doorstep. Woods' then fiancée Sarah Owens was reportedly extremely upset, both with the knowledge of his infidelity and with dealing with Young's alleged scary tactics. Young admitted to amorous feelings for her co-star, who brought a harassment lawsuit against her for $2 million. The case was later settled out of court, with damages paid to Young in a rumored sum of $250,000. The damage to her career reputation, however, was catastrophic.
Young's troubles did not stop with the "Boost" debacle. In 1989, she was cast as Vicki Vale, romantic interest for the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton's feature film "Batman," but she was forced to give up the role after a fall from a horse broke her arm. Kim Basinger went on to replace her. In 1990, Young was fired from the role of Tess Trueheart, Dick Tracy's longtime love, in Warren Beatty's big-budget adaptation of the classic comic strip, "Dick Tracy" (1990). With Beatty calling it a "creative decision," she was yet again replaced, this time by Glenne Headly. Never one to let a slight go unchallenged, Young told the press that she had been let go after refusing Beatty's amorous advances; he responded that Young showed no maternal warmth towards the film's juvenile lead, Charlie Korsmo. The drama continued two years later when Young raised eyebrows by attempting to storm the set of "Batman Returns" in a homemade Catwoman costume in order to influence Warner Bros. studio executives to cast her in the role. Not only did the ploy fail, with Michelle Pfeiffer landing the part, but her subsequent appearance on a daytime talk show in the costume to denounce the studio's decision did much to establish the idea that Young was not only abrasive but unstable. Young would later claim that these incidents blackballed her in the industry, and the string of disastrous encounters, flops and forgotten projects that followed in its wake certainly suggested that the allegation had some merit.
There were a few quality projects in the 1990s, most notably "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" in which she played Jim Carrey's hard-boiled superior who harbored a crude secret, and a leading role opposite Jeanne Moreau in Merchant/Ivory's "The Proprietor" (1996). She also earned positive reviews for her return to femme fatale-dom in Carl Reiner's broad spoof "Fatal Instinct" (1993) and an unbridled turn as a lunatic heiress in the campy indie "Hold Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me" (1993). But for the most part, Young was stranded in dull actioners like "Fire Birds" (1990), with Nicolas Cage, unnecessary remakes like "A Kiss Before Dying" (1991) in which she played twins; and low-budget schlock like "Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde" (1995), in which she portrayed "the monster." Adding insult to injury was a ceaseless assault on her acting by critics, most notably from the Razzie Awards, which nominated her seven times and awarded her twice for Worst Actress or Supporting Actress between 1992 and 1995. During this period, Young departed Hollywood for the relative calm of Sedona, AZ, marrying actor Robert Lujan in 1990, with whom she had two sons, Rio in 1994 and Quinn in 1998. The couple divorced in 2002.
Young's stint in independent and low-budget features continued through the 1990s and into the 21st century, though she began resurfacing in mainstream work with some frequency. There were supporting turns in comedies like "Sugar and Spice" (2002); guest shots on "Third Watch" (NBC, 1999-2005) and "Boston Public" (Fox, 2000-04); and several starring roles in TV movies like "Before I Say Goodbye" (Pax, 2003) and "The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay" (The Hallmark Channel, 2003). Young even traveled to Russia twice to appear in miniseries there, once as famed dancer Isadora Duncan in 2005's "Esenin." Her employment took a step up in 2007, with guest shots on "CSI" (CBS, 2000- ), "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009), "One Tree Hill" (The CW, 2003- ), and a supporting turn in one of Tom Selleck's popular "Jesse Stone" TV movies, "Jesse Stone: Sea Change" (CBS, 2007) all coming that year. Unfortunately, Young's personal profile took another downward turn in 2008 when she was ejected from the Directors Guild of America Awards ceremony for heckling "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007) director Julian Schnabel during his acceptance speech. The following day, in the midst of widespread blog mockery, Young checked into a rehabilitation program to deal with an alcohol abuse problem.
In early 2010, Young picked up a recurring role as barmaid Meggie McClaine on the daytime soap opera "The Young and the Restless" (CBS, 1973- ), a part-time gig that continued for the better part of a year. More stints on television followed, although some were less glamorous than others. Along with professional partner Denis Petukhov, Young was the first contestant eliminated on "Skating with the Stars" (ABC, 2010), a short-lived reality competition. The troubled actress took another step down on the reality TV ladder when she appeared on the 2011 season of "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" (VH1, 2008- ), once again seeking treatment for her ongoing addiction to alcohol. In February 2012, Young was arrested outside the exclusive Governor's Ball after the 84th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony. Asked to leave by security personnel after discovering she lacked an invitation, Young reportedly struck a guard who she claimed had laid a hand on her first. Upon her release from a Hollywood police station, an indignant Young told awaiting paparazzi that she had been arrested at the suggestion of an attorney for the Academy, but offered no clear reason as to why the suggestion may have been made.
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"We laugh sometimes about this heavy-duty reputation that I have. Because when you get down to what any actress really is, if she's any good, she's insecure. Look, creatively I have to be on fire. I don't want to be medicated. And I tell ya, in acting, I feel I haven't done anything close to what I'm capable of yet. It's my social ability that often falls short. I've had difficulty socially." --Sean Young quoted in ESQUIRE, November 1991
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