Who Is Jennifer Jason Leigh?

Jennifer Jason Leigh was born in 1962 in California, and started acting as a child. She shined in such 1980s television and film projects as The Best Little Girl in the World and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Over the years, she has established herself as a skilled dramatic actress in films like Single White Female (1992), Short Cuts (1993) and Dolores Claiborne (1995). Leigh's recent projects include roles in the features Kill Your Darlings (2013) and The Hateful Eight (2015), with the actress receiving an Oscar nomination for the latter.

Early Life

Leigh was born Jennifer Leigh Morrow on February 5, 1962, in Los Angeles, California. She is the daughter of actor Vic Morrow and screenwriter Barbara Turner. At an early age, Leigh became interested in acting. She studied with famed acting coach Lee Strasberg before beginning her professional career. Early on, Leigh landed a number of television guest spots on such shows as Family and Baretta in the 1970s.

In July 1982, Leigh's father was killed in a helicopter accident while filming Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).

Movies and Stage Roles

'Fast Times at Ridgemont High'

Moving on to more substantial roles in the 1980s, Leigh starred as an anorexic teenager in the 1981 television movie The Best Little Girl in the World. She also appeared in the seminal teen flick Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates and Forest Whitaker the following year.

'Last Exit to Brooklyn' and 'Backdraft'

As she made the transition from child to adult actor, Leigh tackled a series of challenging roles. She earned great reviews for her work in the urban drama Last Exit to Brooklyn (1990), based on the book by Hubert Selby Jr. The following year, Leigh appeared in the firefighter drama Backdraft (1991) with Kurt Russell. She also co-starred with Jason Patric in the crime drama Rush that same year.

'Single White Female' and 'Short Cuts'

One of Leigh's most well-known roles was the deeply disturbed roommate in Single White Female (1992), with Bridget Fonda. She was also part of the stellar ensemble cast for Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), which also included Julianne Moore and Tim Robbins. Tackling a literary legend, Leigh earned positive reviews for her portrayal of writer Dorothy Parker in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994).

'Dolores Claiborne'

Leigh also received many positive reviews for her work in the Stephen King mystery Dolores Claiborne (1995) starring Kathy Bates. That same year, she starred opposite Mare Winningham in the sister drama Georgia (1995).

'Cabaret' and 'Proof'

In 1998, Leigh made her Broadway debut in a revival of Cabaret with Alan Cumming. She took over the part of Sally Bowles from Natasha Richardson. With Cumming, Leigh also co-wrote and directed the 2001 dramatic comedy The Anniversary Party. That same year, Leigh returned to Broadway to join the cast of Proof, replacing Mary-Louise Parker in the lead role.

'The Hateful Eight' Oscar Nomination

Leigh continues to work on a variety of films, including 2013's Kill Your Darlings. This film looks at the lives of such legendary poets and writers as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. In 2015, she garnered a Golden Globe nomination for her turn as Daisy "The Prisoner" Domergue in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, followed by an Oscar nod, her first.

Other notable film projects include LBJ (2016), Annihilation (2018) and White Boy Rick (2018).

TV Shows


Success also came to Leigh on the small screen. She had a recurring role on the dramatic comedy Weeds, and in 2012, she joined the cast of the popular primetime drama Revenge starring Emily VanCamp. The actress has more recently starred in Twin Peaks (2018) and Patrick Melrose (2018) and can be currently seen on Netflix's Atypical.

Personal Life

In 2005, Leigh married film writer-director Noah Baumbach. The couple worked together on the 2007 movie Margot at the Wedding. They also co-wrote Greenberg (2010), starring Ben Stiller. Leigh and Baumbach filed for divorce that same year, only months after the birth of their son, Rohmer. Their split was made official in 2013.


  • Birth Year: 1962
  • Birth date: February 5, 1962
  • Birth State: California
  • Birth City: Los Angeles
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: Jennifer Jason Leigh is a film, TV and stage actress who has starred in such movies as 'Single White Female,' 'Dolores Claiborne' and 'The Hateful Eight.'
  • Industries
    • Television
    • Theater and Dance
    • Film
  • Astrological Sign: Aquarius

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  • Article Title: Jennifer Jason Leigh Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/jennifer-jason-leigh
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: March 30, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014


  • Career is such a weird, intangible thing for me. I haven't mapped or planned, and I don't think about what will get me what.
  • You want to know everything you can about that character, so you can really believe for that time you are that person.