Family & Companions
Actress Leelee Sobieski made her screen debut in her early teens, but avoided typically lightweight high school fare; instead earning a reputation for sophisticated, emotionally mature roles in serious dramas. Before the age of 20, she had worked with legendary director Stanley Kubrick in "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) and carried the weight of earnest historical dramas "Joan of Arc" (CBS, 1999) and the holocaust-set "Uprising" (2001). Her admirable decision to pursue an Ivy League education broke her solid run of acclaimed work, and when she returned to theaters she pursued her interest in portraying smart, independent women. Her post-college films roles were generally low budget, film festival fare, but she also surfaced in the occasional mainstream offering like "The Wicker Man" (2006) and "Public Enemies" (2009), while seeking the right niche to carry her into the next phase of her career.
Sobieski was born Liliane Sobieski on June 10, 1982, in New York City, NY. She was raised in an artistic family in Manhattan, spending summers on a ranch in the Carmarque region of France, the homeland of her painter father. Growing up, she considered following in his footsteps or in those of her novelist/screenwriter mother, but the 10- year-old's "discovery" by a casting agent in her school cafeteria planted a new creative seed in her head. Sobieski had always been outgoing and fearless, and she curiously pursued the idea of acting even when her "discovery" did not net her the role in "Interview with the Vampire" (1994) - that famously went to Kirsten Dunst. But with a little training, the confident blonde landed commercials and was cast as Marlo Thomas' daughter in the 1994 CBS TV-movie, "Reunion" (1994). She went on to play the offspring of detective Mark Harmon in the short-lived series "Charlie Grace" (ABC, 1995) and enjoyed guest spots on sitcoms like "Grace Under Fire" (ABC, 1993-98).
In her first feature film, Sobieski was paired (as the daughter) with comedic heavy-hitter Martin Short in the Disney family film, "Jungle2Jungle" (1997). But the actress truly came into her own when given the chance to display her emotional maturity in a supporting role as the daughter of an expatriate family in the Merchant-Ivory production, "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" (1998), starring Kris Kristofferson. The meaty role required the actress to take her character from puberty through adolescence, and to hold her own opposite Kristofferson. Her memorable performance earned a nomination from the Chicago Film Critics Association for Most Promising Newcomer, while industry buzz ranked her up there with other acclaimed dramatic child actors like Jodie Foster. She followed up with another mature performance as a young bride who refuses to abandon her family on a doomed planet in the sci-fi blockbuster, "Deep Impact" (1998).
"Never Been Kissed" (1999), the Drew Barrymore-headlined romantic comedy in which Sobieski supported as a high school math nerd, proved to be the only lighthearted teen romp of the actress' career. She promptly resumed playing complex characters in sophisticated films, appearing in director Stanley Kubrick's erotic final film "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), in which she had a small role as a precocious teen who seduces Tom Cruise's crisis-riddled doctor. The same year, Sobieski's growing reputation was confirmed when she ably took on the daunting task of portraying "Joan of Arc" in the 1999 CBS miniseries. While not called upon to use her fluency in French, Sobieski gave a dignified and intelligent performance and was recognized with Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her work.
Sobieski's capacity for intellectual melancholy made her well-cast as a terminally ill teen in the throes of first love in the romantic drama "Here on Earth" (2000), co-starring Chris Klein and Josh Hartnett. Having scored so well with her first historic miniseries, she was cast as a young Jewish woman who joins the resistance movement in the WWII Warsaw ghetto after her family is deported to a Nazi death camp in the NBC miniseries, "Uprising" (2001). Another Golden Globe nomination was forthcoming for the young actress, and she went on to star in the psychological thriller "The Glass House" (2001) and the early J.J. Abrams story, "Joy Ride" (2001), a road trip thriller directed by John Dahl. Both films were low-profile film festival releases, as was "My First Mister" (2001), in which Sobieski was affecting in her starring role as an isolated teen Goth outcast who forms an unlikely friendship with her rigid, middle-aged boss (Albert Brooks).
Following "Max" (2002), a fictional take on the life of Adolf Hitler as a failed artist before his rise to power - in which Sobieski was the tantalizing mistress of an art dealer (John Cusack) - the actress retreated from her Hollywood life to attend Brown University. While studying literature and fine art, Sobieski found time to shoot several films, playing the young Cécile Volanges in a miniseries version of the oft-adapted "Dangerous Liaisons" (Women's Entertainment Television, 2004) and co-starring in the NBC movie-of-the-week, "Hercules" (2004) as the half-man, half-god's main squeeze, Deianeira. Sobieski marked her return to full-time acting with several film releases in 2006; the highest profile one being a remake of the 1973 horror classic "The Wicker Man" (2006), starring Nicolas Cage. She also starred alongside Chloe Sevigny and Jena Malone in "Lying" (2006), a young adult drama about friendship that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and the legal drama "Heaven's Fall" (2006), which showed at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
The big budget video game-based fantasy, "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale" (2008), proved a historic flop, and the direct-to-video horror film "In a Dark Place" (2007) further raised questions about the actress' future. She remained low profile with festival-screened indies "The Elder Son" (2007) and "Walk All Over Me" (2007), in which she starred as a young woman who takes on the identity of her dominatrix roommate to earn money. Sobieski supported Al Pacino in the misfire thriller "88 Minutes" (2008), but fared better the following year in a small but pivotal role as one of the people responsible for taking down famed 1930s bank robber John Dillinger in "Public Enemies" (2009), starring Johnny Depp in the title role.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Acting debut as Marlo Thomas' daughter in the CBS movie "Reunion"
Played Mark Harmon's daughter on the ABC series "Charlie Grace"
Film debut, "Jungle2Jungle" playing Martin Short's daughter (billed as LeeLee Sobiesky)
Breakthrough screen role as Elijah Wood's young wife in "Deep Impact"
Had central role in the Merchant-Ivory film "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries"
Played a modern Lolita in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut"
Portrayed "Joan of Arc" in a well-received CBS miniseries; received Emmy and Golden Globe nominations
Starred opposite Chris Klein in the romantic drama, "Here on Earth"
Played a disaffected teen who strikes up an unlikely friendship with an older man in "My First Mister"
Played a Polish Jew imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto in the NBC miniseries "Uprising" directed by Jon Avnet
Co-starred with Noah Taylor and John Cusack in the fictional drama, "Max"
Cast in Neil Labute's remake of the 70s horror film, "The Wicker Man"
Played John Rhys-Davies' daughter in Uwe Boll's "Dungeon Siege"
Co-starred with Al Pacino for the thriller, "88 Minutes"