An enormously talented yet troubled British actress, Emily Lloyd dazzled international critics as a sharp-tongued, sexually precocious young woman in "Wish You Were Here" (1987). Named Best Actress by the National Society of Film Critics and nominated for a BAFTA, Lloyd's star-making performance helped her make the leap to Hollywood. After lead turns in the mob comedy "Cookie" (1989) and the Vietnam War drama "In Country" (1989), she scored a lovely supporting role in Robert Redford's Oscar-winning "A River Runs Through It" (1992). Despite her rapid ascent, her career and life quickly seemed to fall apart. Dogged by a reputation for being difficult after being fired from several films and quitting a 1997 West End production of "Pygmalion," Lloyd experienced a complete breakdown before falling off the public radar. She later discussed the extent of her mental illnesses, revealing that she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, attention deficit disorder and chronic insomnia. Although fans and critics held out hope that she would earn the opportunity to live up to her full professional and artistic potential, Emily Lloyd was frank about the fact that she still had a long way to go, health-wise, before she could attempt a comeback.
Born Sept. 29, 1970 in London, England, Emily Lloyd Pack came from a show business family; her mother was an agent and her father and grandfather were well-known actors. Wasting no time pursuing the family trade, she made an impressive screen debut when she was cast in the lead role of David Leland's dramedy "Wish You Were Here" (1987), a fictionalized take on the early life of English madam Cynthia Payne. Playing a spirited but naïve young woman whose misadventures lead to an unexpected pregnancy, the luminous Lloyd was simultaneously vulgar and vulnerable, earning stellar notices from critics around the world for her star-making performance. Considered by some to be "the new Marilyn Monroe," not only did Lloyd win Best Actress from the National Society of Film Critics and The Evening Standard British Film Awards, but she was also nominated for Best Actress at the BAFTA Awards. So vast was her overnight stardom that even Hollywood took notice of the newcomer.
Buoyed by her success, Lloyd began appearing in Hollywood productions. She essayed the lovably trashy-but-tough daughter of a Brooklyn mobster (Peter Falk) in Susan Seidelman's underrated comedy "Cookie" (1989), as well as the small-town Kentucky niece of traumatized Vietnam veteran Bruce Willis in the adaptation of Bobbie Ann Mason's acclaimed novel "In Country" (1989). Although her starring turn opposite Kiefer Sutherland in "Chicago Joe and the Showgirl" (1990) made little impression, Lloyd scored a major hit as the forthright girlfriend of the bookish Norman (Craig Sheffer) in Robert Redford's Montana-set fly-fishing valentine, "A River Runs Through It" (1992). While the smash hit helped solidify Brad Pitt's stardom, Lloyd was not so lucky, and it marked her Hollywood high point after a brief period as that town's latest "it" girl.
While fans may have wondered why Lloyd did not capitalize on her amazing momentum and talent, backstage rumblings pointed to a different picture. Multiple reports surfaced of Lloyd being difficult on movie sets and not getting along with her co-stars, including such shocking anecdotes as Peter Falk slapping her on the set of "Cookie" (and her slapping back) as well as Bruce Willis refusing to speak with her off the set of "In Country." She was cast in the lead role in "Mermaids" (1990) until Cher demanded she be fired and replaced with Winona Ryder, and was cast in Woody Allen's "Husbands and Wives" (1992), but fired after two weeks and replaced with Juliette Lewis. Unbelievably, she was cast as the lead in the futuristic feminist actioner "Tank Girl" (1997) but again fired after refusing to shave her head.
It was not just the world of films that seemed to inspire Lloyd's difficult behavior. For her debut stage role in a 1997 West End production of "Pygmalion," the show's director quit after 10 days of rehearsal and the actress followed suit the following day, although many claimed she had been fired. Although she continued to make lower-profile films throughout the 1990s and the first part of the 2000s, Lloyd had largely dropped off the public's radar by the mid-1990s. While she was in India in 1997 to prepare for a film, she allegedly suffered a complicated breakdown that was both physical and mental. Almost a decade after she disappeared from public view, Lloyd gave an interview that revealed she had been diagnosed with a slew of mental illnesses, including chronic insomnia, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder and Tourette's syndrome. Although she spoke of her desire to return to acting, she admitted that she had many health challenges ahead of her before that would be possible.
By Jonathan Riggs
Cast (Feature Film)
Film debut in "Wish You Were Here"; had originally been rejected for the role
American film debut, "Cookie"
Had supporting role as love interest to Craig Sheffer's Norman MacLean in "A RIver Runs Through It"
US TV debut, the Showtime movie "Override", directed by Danny Glover
Played a novice journalist in Michael Winterbottom's "Welcome to Sarajevo"
Revealed her struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder to London's DAILY MAIL in April