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Sherilyn Fenn

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Basic Information

Sherilyn Fenn

Date of Birth: 1 February 1965
Place of Birth: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Birth Name: Sheryl Ann Fenn
Height: 5' 4" (1.63 m)


Sherilyn Fenn (born February 1, 1965) is an American actress. She came to international attention for her performance on the 1990 cult TV series Twin Peaks. She is also known for her roles in Of Mice and Men, Ruby, Boxing Helena and Rude Awakening, and for portraying actress Elizabeth Taylor in Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story.

Early life

Fenn was born Sheryl Ann Fenn in Detroit, Michigan. She comes from a family of musicians: her mother is keyboard player Arlene Quatro, her aunt is singer Suzi Quatro, her grandfather Art Quatro was a jazz musician, and her father, Leo Fenn, managed such rock bands as Suzi Quatro's The Pleasure Seekers, Alice Cooper, and The Billion Dollar Babies. Fenn is of Italian and Hungarian descent on her mother's side and of Irish and French descent on her father's. She frequently traveled with her mother and two older brothers before the family settled in Los Angeles when she was 17. Fenn didn't want to start with a new school again, and soon enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.

Acting career

Early career (1984–1989)

Sherilyn Fenn began her career with a number of B-movies including The Wild Life (1984, opposite Chris Penn), the 1986 skater film Thrashin' (opposite Josh Brolin and Pamela Gidley), the 1986 teen fantasy movie The Wraith (opposite Charlie Sheen and Nick Cassavetes), the 1987 horror film Zombie High (alongside Virginia Madsen), and the Beauty and the Beast-inspired erotic movie Meridian. She had a memorable part in the 1985 cult teen-comedy Just One of the Guys in which she tries to seduce a teenage girl disguised as a boy, played by Joyce Hyser. Sherilyn starred alongside Johnny Depp in the 1985 short student film Dummies, directed by Laurie Frank for the American Film Institute. Fenn and Depp dated for three and a half years, subsequently getting engaged. In 1987, she joined Depp in a season one episode of 21 Jump Street called "Blindsided".

Fenn is the first to admit that she has appeared in many films that are worth forgetting, and that turned into sexploitation films "where directors tried to convince [her] to appear naked after the contract was signed." "Still, I did a lot of movies instead of waitressing or that kind of thing at the beginning, and it wasn't as if I even took acting very seriously when I started," she says. "I was in California for the first time. I was going to clubs, I was going here, I was going there, I was skipping acting classes when I could. Luckily, I had an agent who really believed in me and she just kept pushing me, thinking something would happen."

Fenn landed her first starring role, as an engaged heiress to an old Southern family who falls for carnival worker Richard Tyson in Zalman King's erotic drama film Two Moon Junction, after which she said she wanted to hide for a year. "I was so embarrassed about how it turned out that I went into a cocoon for a year afterwards," she said.Junction was meant to be Fenn’s big break, but the film turned into another sexploitation film. "A lot of people said some really bad things about me for doing such a sexy movie. But I decided to do it because I wasn't comfortable with the material. I didn't want to make choices that would always put me in a place that was comfortable and secure. I thought interesting things would happen and I would grow. Interesting things did happen. I cried at the end of all my love scenes."

After these film experiences, Fenn decided to take control of her career. "I decided to be more myself and not to be pushed into what other people wanted me to be. It’s scary how little imagination many people in this business have."

Rise to fame – Twin Peaks (1990–1991)

Fenn won her most famous role and made an impression on the public when she was cast by David Lynch and Mark Frost as the tantalizing, reckless Audrey Horne, a high school femme fatale, in the critically acclaimed TV series Twin Peaks. The series ran from 1990 to 1991, and the character of Audrey was one of the most popular with fans, in particular for her unrequited love for FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) and her style from the '50s (with her saddle shoes, plaid skirts, and tight sweaters). Fenn reached cult status with a scene in which she danced to Angelo Badalamenti's music and a scene in which she knotted a cherry stem in her mouth. "With Sherilyn Fenn, Twin Peaks came on and effortlessly destroyed every other show’s sexuality", said co-star James Marshall. "Audrey is a woman-child who dresses like the girls in the '50s and shows her body", said Fenn. "But she's daddy's little girl at the same time." In the show's second season, when the idea of pairing Audrey with Cooper was abandoned, Audrey was paired with other characters like Bobby Briggs (played by Dana Ashbrook) and John Justice Wheeler (Billy Zane). About Audrey, Fenn said:

Audrey’s been great for me. She has brought out a side of me that’s more mischievous and fun that I had suppressed, trying to be an adult. She has made it OK to use the power one has as a woman to be manipulative at times, to be precocious. She goes after what she wants vehemently and she takes it. I think that’s really admirable. I love that about her.

Shortly after shooting the Twin Peaks' pilot episode, David Lynch gave her a small part in Wild at Heart, as a girl injured in a car wreck, obsessed by the contents of her purse, opposite Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. The film won the Golden Palm Award at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. "David’s direction was, ‘Only think of this: bobby pins, lipstick, wallet, comb, that’s it.’ It’s very abstract." "I just pictured her being able to do this", said Lynch of her scene, "she’s like a broken China doll." David Lynch, who once described Sherilyn Fenn as "five feet of heaven in a ponytail" (quoting from a 1958 record by The Playmates), and said that she makes him think of a porcelain doll, said about her:

She's a mysterious girl and I think that actresses like her who have a mystery – where there's something hiding beneath the surface – are the really interesting ones.

"He's very creative and unafraid of taking chances," she said of the director. "I really respect him. He's wonderful."

She soon portrayed John Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette in ABC's 1991 gangster TV movie Dillinger opposite Mark Harmon, and shot the neo-noir black comedy Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel in which she played a sultry, seductive femme fatale, opposite Whip Hubley and David Hewlett. After Twin Peaks, Fenn chose to focus on widening her range of roles and was determined to avoid typecasting. "They’ve offered me every variation on Audrey Horne, none of which were as good or as much fun." She turned down the Audrey Horne spin-off series that was offered to her, and unlike most of the cast, chose not to return for the 1992 prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, as she was then shooting Of Mice and Men.

Post-Peaks roles (1992–1995)

After two nominations (Emmy and Golden Globe) for Twin Peaks, and a pictorial in Playboy magazine (for which she chose her then boyfriend, Barry Hollywood, to photograph her), Fenn was propelled to stardom and became a major sex symbol, with her Old Hollywood looks. In October 1990, while promoting Twin Peaks, Fenn made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine along with Mädchen Amick and Lara Flynn Boyle. In 1990 Us Magazine chose her as one of the "10 Most Beautiful Women in the World" and in 1991 People magazine chose her as one of the "50 Most Beautiful Women in the World". She posed for photographer Steven Meisel for the autumn-winter 1991–1992 Dolce & Gabbana campaign, for which he photographed her as a classical Hollywood femme fatale. In 1992 photographer George Hurrell took a series of photographs of Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Julian Sands, Raquel Welch, Eric Roberts and Sean Penn. In these portraits he recreated his style of the 1930s, with Fenn posing in costumes, hairstyle and makeup of the period.

In 1991, veteran Hollywood acting coach Roy London chose her to star in his directorial debut Diary of a Hitman (nominated for the Critics Award at the 1991 Deauville Film Festival), in which she plays a young mother determined to protect her child from hit-man Forest Whitaker. According to Fenn, the turning point in her career was when she met London in 1990. She credits him with instilling confidence and newfound enthusiasm.

I was disillusioned with acting after the pilot of Twin Peaks. I'd been doing low-budget films. I didn't want to walk through movies being a pretty ornament. At 25 I didn't know if I had it. I questioned if there was depth, if there was integrity to me. I was longing to go inside, to do deeper work.

She learned from her beloved teacher "to find the roles that you're passionate about, that speak to you on some level and which will help you grow on some level," which has then become her line of conduct. "A lot of the sentiment that acting should be about an art form rather than mass entertainment and celebrity is at the core of Fenn’s attitude to the business," wrote Jessica Sully in Australian magazine Movie. "I try to keep myself centered," Fenn said. "I don't go to parties and all that. I don't think being seen or being in the right place is going to make me a better actress. I care about my work and try to do what's right in my heart." As Mike Bygrave wrote in Sky Magazine: "One of the keys to understanding Fenn is that when she talks about the characters she plays she's really talking about herself." Fenn was eager to play varied parts that could eclipse her sex-symbol image. "People who think they know me would be surprised that my whole life doesn't revolve around sex," she said. After Twin Peaks, Fenn demanded a no-nudity clause in her contracts. She turned to the independent world, to manage to carve out a career on her own terms as a versatile actress. She worked intensely, choosing varied and unusual roles:

The world has certain rules – Hollywood has certain rules – but it doesn't mean you have to play by them, and I don't, or I'd be a miserable person.

A highlight of Fenn's film career is Gary Sinise's film adaptation of Of Mice and Men (nominated for the Golden Palm at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival) in which she played a sad and lonely country wife, desperately in need to talk to somebody, opposite Sinise and John Malkovich. "Sherilyn’s one of the reasons we got such a great ovation at Cannes", said Sinise. "She’s like a terribly sad angel in this film. Sherilyn plays against just being a sexy and beautiful girl," he added. "Hopefully her performance in my film will show her deep talent because she certainly showed the right mix of innocence and seductiveness for the role. We needed a fresh face but also one who knew what she was doing." "Gary Sinise was one of the first people who didn’t see me like a lot of other people did," she said. "It was a wonderful experience. Horton Foote adapted the novel and he fleshed out my character, and he made her much, much more." The same year saw her starring alongside Danny Aiello, Arliss Howard and Marc Lawrence in John Mackenzie's Ruby, that attempts to unravel the mystery of who killed John F. Kennedy and why, and depicts the events that led Jack Ruby to shoot Lee Harvey Oswald. Fenn plays the part of ambitious stripper Sheryl Ann DuJean, a fictitious character who is a composite of several real-life women including stripper Candy Barr, Marilyn Monroe and Judith Campbell Exner. "She’s got a brain and all the right emotional instincts, and that’s a great combination," said Mackenzie of Fenn.

In 1993 she starred in the romantic comedy Three of Hearts as Kelly Lynch and William Baldwin's love interest. During the shooting the relations between Fenn and director Yurek Bogayevicz became more and more strained as she refused to appear nude in the film. Fenn was also considered for the title role in Roger Vadim's remake of his 1968 film Barbarella that ultimately didn't come off.

Her most notable film role to date was in the controversial Boxing Helena (nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival), directed by David Lynch's daughter Jennifer Chambers Lynch. Fenn portrayed a narcissistic seductress amputated and imprisoned by Julian Sands, who makes her become his personal Venus de Milo in an effort to possess her. Helena was a way for Fenn to avoid being type-cast, with a radically different role from what she’d done in the past:

I like taking risks and I decided to put every bit of me into the role.

"Women do feel like they're in a box," she says of the subtext that attracted her to the role. "Society, Hollywood, some men... they want to wrap women up in a neat little package." Both Lynch and Fenn were proud of their work in it but the film – which was overshadowed by the lawsuits against Kim Basinger after she dropped out – ultimately was a critical and commercial failure. However, both women enjoyed their collaboration. "Sherilyn is an amazing actress, a total bundle of energy and a real powerhouse and I think people will see a side of her that we have never seen of Sherilyn anywhere else before," said Lynch of the actress. "I have with Sherilyn something I didn't think I'd ever find and that is the entire whole." "Jennifer’s one of the brightest person I know," said Fenn. "Boxing Helena was something that I think was pretty cool, but people judged it without even having seen it. It’s not perfect, but I think for the story that we were trying to tell, it turned out pretty good. What it signified was really powerful to me: how society puts us in boxes one way or another."

She then starred in Carl Reiner's neo-noir parody Fatal Instinct as Armand Assante's devoted secretary and Sean Young and Kate Nelligan’s rival. She was asked to read for the femme fatale Lola (eventually played by Young), but opted for Assante's lovesick secretary.

Fenn afterward portrayed Potiphar's wife Zulaikha in Showtime's Biblical TV movie Slave of Dreams (released in 1995) opposite Adrian Pasdar and Edward James Olmos. The film was directed by multi-award winning Robert M. Young and produced by Martha and Dino De Laurentiis.

In 1995, she starred in an episode of Tales from the Crypt directed by Robert Zemeckis, alongside Isabella Rossellini and John Lithgow, in which she played the lover of Humphrey Bogart, who appeared in the episode via CGI special effects. "It was wonderful working with Bob Zemeckis and Isabella, and everybody was really nice."

After a short break during which she married and gave birth to a son, Fenn was chosen among more than 100 actresses to portray legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor in NBC's 1995 telemovie Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story.

Playing Elizabeth Taylor was probably the hardest job I’ve ever done.

"Director Kevin Connor and I arranged a lunch, not an audition," said executive producer Lester Persky. "We knew 10 minutes into our meeting that Sherilyn was it. She has the same striking beauty, and because of that she's experienced some of the things in life and in this business that make Elizabeth such a fascinating person." When she accepted the part, Fenn was unaware that Taylor was suing to stop both broadcast of the film and the unauthorized biography that it is based on. But she didn't let that distract her from her work. "I am somebody who doesn't make choices lightly at this point of my life. I'm not somebody who wants to exploit another's woman story or life in any way." Some parallels with her life made it important for Fenn to do the biography. Like Taylor, Fenn's mother married several times. "It's remarkable, to be married so many times. How do you say 'I do' yet again and again and mean it? Maybe she lives her life in the moment, and ferociously believe in love. My mother getting married over and over definitely had an effect on me." Also, Fenn and Taylor both encountered similar experiences in the film business. "There are stereotypes of what a beautiful woman is. She struggled with that. A certain part of her life she went on that calling card. I certainly know I've come into contact with that. ‘You are too pretty,’ I'm told." During the shooting, Fenn fought to keep integrity in the script. Her priority was to respectfully and accurately portray Taylor, and she supported the original screenwriter's effort to concentrate on Taylor the person, not the legend.

I fought to keep the integrity of the story because the producer was bringing in a writer that was making it very soapy. They wanted many scenes of her when she was very overweight. I said, ‘I'm not doing that. I'll do one. That's not this woman's life.’ For me it was just: I didn't want to make an impression. I just tried to play the truth of the woman. Not the legend, not the stories that we hear about her. Because even when she was a child, you were seeing a version of her that was manipulated by the studios, so you didn't really see her. I thought the closest she ever came to revealing herself was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and she lost herself in that role. It was cathartic for her to do that in a lot of ways, to let herself be that wild.

Slowdown in her career (1996–1998)

In the late 1990s, Fenn's career took a downturn. The discrepancies between her vision of the profession of actress and the Hollywood-centred commercial fixation led to her lack of enthusiasm in traditional Hollywood films.

I don’t get considered for a lot of those big fat movies. The studios have their list of five actresses and whether they’re right or wrong for a role doesn’t matter. It’s how much money their last movie made," she said. "Not that I necessarily want to do them anyway. Because there’s very few that are big budget that have any substance or any depth or any integrity."

"I didn't like anything," she admits. "It was crazy, I was very picky. In other words, I didn't take advantage of what was happening necessarily then. But they also have a way of putting you in a category. I wasn't into playing the Hollywood game. I only responded to certain things." Also, she herself has attributed her failure to adapt to the Hollywood system to her frankness and her dislike for the "Hollywood game".

I was told once that I didn't play the Hollywood game, and that's why I wasn't a big star. What they meant when they said that was that I don't go to parties, and when I go to an audition and I don't like the script, they know it. I don't flirt and I don't play the people that I'm meeting with. In the next breath, this person said to me, ‘When you're passionate about a role, there's nobody that can touch you, but you have to learn to do this also...’ But I don't know how to sit there and pretend I love something when I don't!

She then began to alternate TV movies and independent films. In 1996 she joined the winning ensemble cast in the romantic comedy Lovelife as a waitress who attempts to become a writer and has to rebuild her life. The film was written and directed by Tru Calling's creator Jon Harmon Feldman and costarred Matt Letscher, Jon Tenney, Bruce Davison, Saffron Burrows and Carla Gugino.

Fenn also appeared in the 1997 romantic comedy Just Write, along with Jeremy Piven as the dream actress of a Hollywood tour bus driver, who mistakes him for a famous screenwriter. Both films have been well-received on the festival circuit.

In a 1997 episode of Friends, Fenn guest-starred as Matthew Perry's wooden-legged girlfriend. "Matthew Perry was darling and very funny. All my scenes were with Matthew, basically, so it was fun. I like the show. I was happy to be a part of it."

The same year she was cast as the female lead in ABC's show Prey (originally entitled Hungry for Survival) and starred in the unaired original pilot episode. However, the pilot was reshot and Fenn was replaced by Debra Messing.

Fenn starred in the 1998 British psychological drama and huis-clos Darkness Falls as a wealthy and neglected wife, who is sequestered with her husband (played by Tim Dutton) by a man (Ray Winstone) determined to understand the events that led to his wife ending up in a coma. "I loved the script when I read it; it's a wonderful character piece. I saw Ray's work, like Nil by Mouth, and I saw Tim's work, and I just was really excited to be a part of it." While shooting the film in the Isle of Man in late 1997, Fenn hesitated to settle in London in order to start a European career, and eventually decided to stay in the U.S.

She subsequently starred opposite Jon Tenney in the pilot for a remake of ABC's Love, American Style, for the 1998–1999 television season. The pilot, that also featured Melissa Joan Hart, Matt Letscher and Mariska Hargitay was not ordered into a series. Nevertheless, ABC aired it on February 20, 1999.

Return to television – Rude Awakening (1998–2001)

Fenn gained newfound enthusiasm with the lead role in Showtime's sitcom Rude Awakening as Billie Frank, an alcoholic ex-soap opera actress, based upon executive producer/creator Claudia Lonow's experience, who tries to go sober and become a writer but continues to struggle with her self-destructive habits. The series ran from 1998 to 2001 and co-starred Lynn Redgrave, Jonathan Penner and Mario Van Peebles.

I liked the hard-core truth of Rude Awakening. But when I first read it, I was scared of it. Part of me was, like, it’s so unattractive! But I liked that it didn't glamorize alcohol. And what's admirable about Billie is that she's a straight shooter. She doesn't have a lot of pretense. It's like, ‘Take me as I am. You like me, fine! You don't, I don't give a damn!’ There's something quite empowering about somebody who doesn't care what other people think. Billie is learning about herself. She's recognized that she has a problem with drugs and alcohol, and she's trying to straighten it out.

Fenn joined again Jeremy Piven in a 1998 episode of Cupid, as Piven's love interest. In 1999 she reteamed with Chris Penn and Adrian Pasdar for Pasdar's art-house directorial debut, the neo-noir Cement, a contemporary re-telling of Othello, in which she played a tempting but imprudent femme fatale, the wife of jealous corrupt cop Chris Penn. "I play a character who's selfish and sloppy with her sexual energy. I saw the film and I was really happy with it. It's got a lot of soul." The film, which won Best Picture awards on the festival circuit, was written by Farscape’s screenwriter Justin Monjo and also starred Jeffrey Wright and Henry Czerny. She also reteamed with actor/director Bruce Davison for his 2001 award-winning family comedy, Showtime's Off Season alongside Rory Culkin, Hume Cronyn and Adam Arkin.

Recent roles (2001–present)

Following Rude Awakening, Fenn's work consisted of a lot of episodic TV work. In the middle of the 2000s, she failed to find a role that could re-ignite her career as she got involved into many projects, that went unrealized.

In 2001, she starred in the episode Replica of The Outer Limits, playing a scientist who volunteered to be cloned. She also starred in an episode of Night Visions, as a woman who buys a used car possessed by a vengeful spirit. She was cast as a kindergarten teacher for the pilot of the 2001 American version of the British TV show Blind Men, alongside French Stewart. However, the pilot was not ordered into a series.

In 2002, Fenn was one of several former Twin Peaks stars, such as Dana Ashbrook and Mädchen Amick, to have a recurring role on The WB's Dawson's Creek. She guest-starred in three episodes from the fifth season, as Alex Pearl, the seductive manager of the restaurant where Joshua Jackson works. Fenn was afterwards cast as madcap villain Harley Quinn in The WB's Birds of Prey but was replaced by Mia Sara before the series began. Fenn starred in the original pilot episode but dropped out, due to scheduling conflicts, as the show's creators realized that the character of Harley Quinn would need to be a bigger part of the show She also played a manipulative woman in a season 4 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit opposite Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay and appeared in Watching Ellie.

Fenn played a crime boss in the 2002 film Swindle opposite Tom Sizemore. She had a small role in the critically acclaimed The United States of Leland, opposite Ryan Gosling, in which she played a mother who captivates a troubled teenage boy.

In 2003, Fenn appeared on The WB's Gilmore Girls as Sasha, the girlfriend of Jess Mariano's estranged father (played by Rob Estes) in the season three episode Here Comes the Son, which was the backdoor pilot for a California-set spin-off titled Windward Circle, that was to have starred Milo Ventimiglia, Estes and Fenn. The network dropped the project citing cost issues due to filming on location in Venice, California.

She then played the recurring part of Violet Montgomery on Fox's Boston Public (2003–2004), and appeared in Showtime's Cavedweller (2004) opposite Kyra Sedgwick. In 2004, Fenn joined former co-star Mark Harmon in an episode of NCIS, as an amnesiac woman. She was afterwards cast for the 2004 remake of Mister Ed, planned for the Fox network. However, after the pilot was shot, the show's writer/producer Drake Sather committed suicide, and the pilot was not aired.

In 2004, Fenn co-starred opposite Traci Lords and Paul Johansson in Emily Skopov's Novel Romance, released in 2006, in which she played a pregnancy shop owner who can't have children and whose sister decides to become a single mother. She then appeared in the martial arts film Lesser of Three Evils alongside Ho Sung Pak, Peter Greene and Roger Guenveur Smith, as the unbalanced and alcoholic wife of a corrupt detective. The film was released in 2009 under the title Fist of the Warrior.

In 2005, Fenn made a notable appearance on The 4400, playing Jean DeLynn Baker, a 4400 who has the ability to grow toxin-emitting spores on her hands. She also guest-starred on the final episode of Judging Amy.

After finishing the Russia-set action film Treasure Raiders with David Carradine, Fenn starred in the Canadian psychological thriller Presumed Dead, opposite Duncan Regehr, as a detective working on a missing person case, who has to outwit a crime novelist.

In 2006, Fenn reteamed with Amy Sherman-Palladino and reappeared in the sixth and seventh seasons of Gilmore Girls as Anna Nardini, the ex-girlfriend of Luke Danes (played by Scott Patterson) and protective mother to his daughter April. After the 2003 Gilmore Girls spin-off project, Sherman-Palladino wanted to work with Fenn again ever since, and wrote the character of Anna with her in mind. When asked why she cast Fenn for two different roles on Gilmore Girls, Sherman-Palladino said:

I love Sherilyn so much and I don't care. One thing about the show is I just want the best people. I've just been looking constantly for a time to work with Sherilyn, and I'm getting very old and I could just get hit by a truck at any minute. I just simply can't put it off that long, so I'd just rather get her in and have her part of my world.

However, after Sherman-Palladino left the show, the direction for the character changed — the producers decided to make her character a villain in a custody battle.

Fenn was cast as the female lead in ABC's 2006 comedy series Three Moons Over Milford but she was ultimately replaced by Elizabeth McGovern. Fenn was slated for a recurring role on CBS' 2006 crime drama Smith, but the show was quickly-canceled.

She appeared in the 2007 Dukes of Hazzard prequel, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning as Lulu Hogg. "It's just a fun silly role," she said, but Fenn who had already worked with director Robert Berlinger on Rude Awakening, wanted to do so again.

In July 2006, shortly after shooting The Dukes of Hazzard prequel, Fenn stepped behind the camera for the first time and directed in Pittsburgh a documentary film about child enrichment program CosmiKids and its founder Judy Julin. She subsequently joined its executive team in 2007 as executive director of the film and television division.

In July 2008, Fenn filmed The Scenesters, a black comedy made by Los Angeles-based comedy group The Vacationeers, which premiered in October 2009.

In July 2009, Fenn made a guest appearance on In Plain Sight as a lesbian counterfeiter.

Personal life

Fenn lives in Los Angeles. She practices kundalini yoga.

Fenn was reportedly romantically linked to musician Prince, whom she met soon after she arrived in Los Angeles. She was also romantically linked to actor Chris Penn (on the set of their 1984 movie The Wild Life), and photographer Barry Hollywood (whom she chose to photograph her for the December 1990 issue of Playboy magazine).

She became romantically involved with actor Johnny Depp on the set of the 1985 short film Dummies. Director Laurie Frank said: "we finished the scene and they disappeared and then 5 minutes later we could see a car jumping up and down and they wouldn't come out until we were filming again. It was just so gorgeous, and their eyes locked and that was it. They really fell madly in love." Fenn and Depp dated for three and a half years and the couple were reportedly engaged. He later signed a contract to become a series regular on 21 Jump Street, which went into production in Vancouver. In pursuit of their different careers in Los Angeles and Vancouver, the two parted ways.

In 1994, Fenn married guitarist/songwriter Toulouse Holliday, whom she met on the set of Three of Hearts, and gave birth to a son, Myles, in late 1993. The marriage came to an end in 1997.

Her second son, Christian, with IT consultant Dylan Stewart, was born in August 2007.

In 2009 Sherilyn Fenn created a blog named Postcards from the Ledge.

Awards and nominations

  • 1990: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Twin Peaks
  • 1991: nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV – Twin Peaks

Other recognition

  • Fenn made the cover of such magazines as New York, Rolling Stone (along with Mädchen Amick and Lara Flynn Boyle), In Fashion (along with Billy Idol), Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The Face, Details, Sky, and Harper's Bazaar.
  • In 1990 Us Magazine chose her as one of the "10 Most Beautiful Women in the World".
  • In 1991 People chose her as one of the "50 Most Beautiful Women in the World".
  • Fenn posed for photographer Steven Meisel for the autumn-winter 1991–1992 Dolce & Gabbana campaign.
  • In 1992, Fenn posed for photographer George Hurrell.
  • Singer and composer Screamin' Jay Hawkins wrote and recorded the 1993 song entitled "Sherilyn Fenn", featured on his album Stone Crazy. The song is an ode to Fenn, who worked with Hawkins in Two Moon Junction.
  • Fenn is mentioned in the song "Razor Burn" by the punk band Lagwagon on their 1995 album entitled Hoss.
  • In 1995 FHM chose her as one of the "100 sexiest women in the world".
  • In 1996, The Daily Mirror chose her as one of the "World's 100 Most Beautiful Women", and Femme Fatales chose her as one of the "50 sexiest sci-fi actresses".
  • Fenn inspired Norwegian hard rock band Audrey Horne, formed in 2002, named after her character in Twin Peaks.
  • In 2006, Australian men magazine Zoo Weekly chose her as one of the "Top 50 Hottest Babes Ever".



Year Film Role Notes
1984 The Wild Life Penny Harlin
1985 Out of Control Katie film debut
Just One of the Guys Sandy
Dummies AFI short film
1986 Thrashin' Velvet
The Wraith Keri Johnson
1987 Zombie High Suzi
1988 Two Moon Junction April Delongpre
1989 Crime Zone Helen
True Blood Jennifer Scott
1990 Backstreet Dreams Lucy
Wild at Heart Girl in accident
Meridian Catherine Bomarzini
1991 Desire and Hell at Sunset Motel Bridget 'Bridey' DeSoto
Diary of a Hitman Jain Zidzyck
1992 Ruby Sheryl Ann 'Candy Cane' DuJean also song performer
Of Mice and Men Curley's wife
1993 Three of Hearts Ellen Armstrong
Boxing Helena Helena
Fatal Instinct Laura Lincolnberry
1997 Lovelife Molly
Just Write Amanda Clark
1998 The Shadow Men Dez Wilson
Outside Ozona Marcy Duggan Rice
1999 Darkness Falls Sally Driscoll
2000 Cement Lyndel Holt
2003 Swindle Sophie Zenn
The United States of Leland Angela Calderon
Nightwaves Shelby Naylor
Dream Warrior Sterling
2006 Novel Romance Liza Normane Stewart
2007 Treasure Raiders Lena
2009 Fist of the Warrior Katie Barnes aka Lesser of Three Evils
The Scenesters A.D.A. Barbara Dietrichson


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Silence of the Heart Monica CBS TV movie
1985 Cheers Gabrielle episode 4.04 "The Groom Wore Clearasil"
1987 21 Jump Street Diane Nelson episode 1.09 "Blindsided"
Tales from the Hollywood Hills Betty episode "A Table at Ciro's"
1988 Divided We Stand Lorraine ABC TV pilot—not ordered to series
ABC Afterschool Special Beth episode 17.2 "A Family Again"
1989 TV 101 Robin Zimmer episodes 1.07, 1.08 "The Last Temptation of Checker" (part 1&2)
1990 Twin Peaks Audrey Horne series regular (1990–1991)

Nominated—Emmy Award Nominated—Golden Globe Award

1991 Dillinger Billie Frechette ABC TV movie
1994 Spring Awakening Margie CBS TV movie
1995 Slave of Dreams Zulaikha Showtime TV movie
Tales from the Crypt Erika episode 6.15 "You, Murderer"
Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story Elizabeth Taylor NBC miniseries
1996 A Season in Purgatory Kit Bradley CBS miniseries
1997 Friends Ginger episode 3.14 "The One with Phoebe's Ex-Partner"
The Don's Analyst Isabella Leoni TMC TV movie
Prey Dr. Sloan Larkin original pilot—also known as Hungry for Survival
1998 Nightmare Street Joanna Burke / Sarah Randolph ABC TV movie
Rude Awakening Billie Frank lead (1998–2001)
Cupid Helen Davis episode 1.07 "Pick-Up Schticks"
1999 Love, American Style Nancy segment "Love And The Jealous Lover"
2001 The Outer Limits Nora Griffiths / Nora's clone episode 7.07 "Replica"
Night Visions Charlotte episode 1.08 "Used Car"
Blind Men CBS TV pilot—not ordered to series
Off Season Patty Winslow Showtime TV movie
2002 Watching Ellie Vanessa episodes 1.05 "Cheetos", 1.07 "Gift"
Dawson's Creek Alexandra 'Alex' Pearl episodes 5.20 "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", 5.21 "After Hours", 5.22 "The Abby"
Birds of Prey Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn original pilot
Scent of Danger Brenna Shaw TV movie
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gloria Stanfield episode 4.02 "Deception"
2003 Nightwaves Shelby Naylor TV movie
Gilmore Girls Sasha episode 3.21 "Here Comes the Son"—backdoor pilot for spin-off, not ordered to series
Boston Public Violet Montgomery recurring (2003–2004)
2004 Cavedweller M.T. Showtime TV movie
NCIS Jane Doe/Suzzanne McNeil episode 1.10 "Left for Dead"
Century Cities Bree Clemens episode 1.07 "The Face Was Familiar"
Mister Ed Carlotta Pope Fox TV pilot—not ordered to series
Pop Rocks Allison Harden ABC TV movie
2005 Officer Down Kathryn Shaunessy TV movie
Deadly Isolation Susan Mandaway TV movie
Judging Amy Heather Reid episode 6.22 "My Name Is Amy Gray..."
The 4400 Jean DeLynn Baker episode 2.7 "Carrier"
2006 Presumed Dead Det. Mary Anne 'Coop' Cooper TV movie
Gilmore Girls Anna Nardini recurring (2006–2007)
CSI: Miami Gwen Creighton episode 4.22 "Open Water"
Three Moons Over Milford Janet Davis original pilot
Smith Debbie Turkenson episode 1.06 "Six"
2007 The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning Lulu Hogg ABC TV movie
2008 House M.D. Mrs. Soellner episode 5.11 "Joy to the World"
2009 In Plain Sight Helen Trask/Helen Traylen episode 2.13 "Let's Get It Ahn"


  • Was engaged to Johnny Depp, whom she met on the set of the 1985 short student film "Dummies". Their relationship lasted three years and a half.
  • Rumored to have dated Kiefer Sutherland
  • Niece of 1970s pop singer Suzi Quatro and musicians Patti Quatro, Michael Quatro and Nancy Quatro.
  • Chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world. [1991]
  • Studied at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute.
  • Sherilyn's name is scrawled across Johnny Depp's helmet in the movie Platoon (1986).
  • Her son Myles Maximillian, with ex-husband Toulouse Holliday, was born. [December 15, 1993]
  • Worked for 2 months as a Playboy bunny in LA when she was 19.
  • Was originally cast as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn for the WB show "Birds of Prey" (2002) in its pilot episode, but was replaced for the rest of the season by Mia Sara. Fenn dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
  • Measurements: 36C-25-35 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine).
  • Daughter of Arlene Quatro.
  • Chosen by FHM magazine as one of the "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (ranked #10). [1995]
  • Chose her then-boyfriend photographer Barry Hollywood to photograph her in the December 1990 issue of Playboy magazine.
  • Director David Lynch described Sherilyn as "Five feet of heaven in a ponytail" and said she makes him think of a porcelain doll.
  • Made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, along with Mädchen Amick and Lara Flynn Boyle while promoting "Twin Peaks" (1990). [October 1990]
  • Starred in Adrian Pasdar's debut feature as director Cement (2000) alongside Chris Penn. Fenn and Pasdar had previously co-starred in Slave of Dreams (1995) (TV) and Penn and Fenn had previously co-starred in The Wild Life (1984).
  • Practices Kundalini yoga.
  • Wished to portray silent-screen star Clara Bow.
  • Is part Italian and Hungarian on her mother's side (her mother's name Quatro is short for Quatrocchio), and part Irish and French on her father's side.
  • Her grandfather, Art Quatro, was a jazz band musician. His band was the 'Art Quatro Trio'.
  • Guest-starred opposite her then-fiancé Johnny Depp in an episode of "21 Jump Street" (1987).
  • Her favorite Elizabeth Taylor movies are A Place in the Sun (1951), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), and The Sandpiper (1965).
  • Daughter of keyboard player Arlene Quatro who played in the Suzi Quatro band, that Sherilyn's father managed.
  • Made the cover of Playboy magazine in December 1990.
  • Although actress Elizabeth Taylor fought the unauthorized biography Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995) (TV), she found that Fenn aptly portrayed her.
  • Her car accident scene in Wild at Heart (1990) came from director David Lynch's impression of Fenn as a porcelain doll, and from the idea of seeing a porcelain doll breaking. He kept telling her about that, and that's how the scene was born. Lynch said of the scene, "I just pictured her being able to do this. She's like a broken china doll". Lynch got the same inspiration for the car accident scene in Mulholland Dr. (2001). His direction to actress Laura Harring was to act like a broken porcelain doll.
  • There were plans to spin her "Twin Peaks" (1990) character Audrey Horne off into her own series, that didn't come off. Apparently, Fenn's character inspired David Lynch for Laura Harring's character in Mulholland Dr. (2001), as Fenn said in an interview in 1997, "David was talking about 'Mulholland Drive', he talked about like 'Audrey goes to Hollywood'. She's driving along Mulholland in this convertible car... But it didn't end up happening."
  • While filming NBC's Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995) (TV), Fenn fought daily to keep integrity in the script. Fenn's priority was to respectfully and accurately portray Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Wears Chanel no.5
  • Likes cold and rainy weather.
  • Shares with friend/former boyfriend Prince a great interest in silent- screen star Clara Bow, whom Fenn wished to portray.
  • Her acting coach was Roy London who directed the movie Diary of a Hitman (1991), starring Fenn and Forest Whitaker.
  • During the shooting of Darkness Falls (1999) in the UK, contemplated moving to London, being tired of Hollywood. Co-star Ray Winstone encouraged her to come to England. So did British director Mike Figgis, who said it would be very positive for her to do that, as England is quite different from Hollywood. He told her she has a great body of work and she could work all the time in Europe. [1997]
  • Inspired Norwegian hard rock band 'Audrey Horne', named after Fenn's character in "Twin Peaks" (1990).
  • One of her favorite roles in a movie is Jessica Lange in Frances (1982).
  • Starred in an episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (1989) along with Isabella Rossellini, John Lithgow and "Humphrey Bogart". Director Robert Zemeckis used footage of Bogart he included in the episode. Sherilyn plays Bogart's lover. Fenn and Rossellini had already co- starred in David Lynch's Wild at Heart (1990) and both guest-starred in the third season of "Friends" (1994).
  • Of Mice and Men (1992) co-star John Malkovich is to her one of the best actors.
  • Chosen by Batman fans as a perfect Selina Kyle/Catwoman in a Batman dream cast.
  • Chosen by US magazine as one of the 10 Most Beautiful Women in the world. [1990]
  • Chosen by Femme Fatales magazine as one of the 50 sexiest sci-fi actresses. [1996]
  • Played two different characters (with different hair colors) on "Gilmore Girls" (2000): Sasha, the girlfriend of Jess's estranged father in California, and Anna Nardini, the mother of Luke's teen-aged daughter, April.
  • In 1992 photographer George Hurrell Sr. took a series of photographs of Sherilyn Fenn, Sharon Stone, Julian Sands, Raquel Welch, Eric Roberts and Sean Penn. In these portraits he recreated his style of the 1930s, with the actors posing in costumes, hairstyle and makeup of the period.
  • When asked why she did cast Fenn for two different roles on "Gilmore Girls" (2000), creator Amy Sherman said: "I love Sherilyn so much and I don't care. One thing about the show is I just want the best people. I've just been looking constantly for a time to work with Sherilyn, and I'm getting very old and I could just get hit by a truck at any minute. I just simply can't put it off that long, so I'd just rather get her in and have her part of my world."
  • Became good friends with Jennifer Chambers Lynch while working together in Boxing Helena (1993).
  • Grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
  • Her father Leo Fenn was the personal manager of Alice Cooper for 13 years. He also managed "The Billion Dollar Babies" and Suzi Quatro's "The Pleasure Seekers".
  • Involved along with George Katt in the 2003 film project "Gin and the Rumble Within". The film was to be directed by George Katt, who guest-starred opposite Sherilyn Fenn in "Rude Awakening" (1998), and would have starred Fenn and Katt.
  • Posed for photographer Steven Meisel for the autumn-winter 1991-1992 Dolce & Gabbana campaign.
  • Was originally cast as the female lead in ABC's show "Prey" (1998), but was replaced by Debra Messing. Fenn starred in the unaired pilot episode.
  • Singer and composer Screamin' Jay Hawkins wrote and recorded in 1993 a song entitled "Sherilyn Fenn", featured on his album "Stone Crazy". The song is an ode to Fenn, who worked with Hawkins in Two Moon Junction (1988).
  • Was originally cast as the female lead in ABC's show "Three Moons Over Milford" (2005), but was replaced by Elizabeth McGovern. Fenn starred in the unaired pilot episode that also featured Jill Shackner as Lydia Davis and a guest appearance by Majandra Delfino.
  • Was considered for the title role in Roger Vadim's remake of his own film Barbarella (1968). However, the project went unrealized. [1993]
  • Sherilyn is mentioned in the 1995 song "Razor Burn" by the punk band Lagwagon on their 3rd full length album entitled "Hoss".
  • Chosen by Australian men magazine Zoo weekly as one of the "Top 50 Hottest Babes Ever". [March 2006]
  • Chosen by The Daily Mirror as one of the World's 100 Most Beautiful Women. [October 1996]
  • Auditioned for the Robin Wright role in The Princess Bride (1987).
  • Described by writer/director Emily Skopov as an "indie goddess".
  • Inspired writer Sherilyn Connelly who took from Fenn the first name she goes under.
  • Joined the executive team of child enrichment program CosmiKids as executive director of the film and television division. [2007]
  • Was originally considered for the role of the femme fatale Lola, eventually played by Sean Young, in Fatal Instinct (1993). Fenn opted for the role of 'Armand Assantes lovesick secretary Laura and suggested director Carl Reiner cast Young as Lola.
  • Chosen by men magazine Maxim as one of 'Maxim's Most Wanted Women'. [October 1997]
  • Her second son Christian James was born. Father is boyfriend Dylan Stewart, a professional freelance Macintosh consultant and son of writer/director Douglas Day Stewart. [August 6, 2007]
  • Attended the 3rd Annual "Night With The Friends of El Faro" Benefit. [May 13, 2005]
  • Made the cover of In Fashion magazine alongside Billy Idol. [Winter 1990-1991]
  • Her name is translated in Chinese as "Xuelin Fen", which means "Snow Jade".
  • Cousin of Kristen Glass and drummer Michael Glass (of Overscene).
  • Friend of CosmiKids founder Judy Julin.
  • Chosen by Wizard magazine as one of the "25 Sexiest Women of TV" (ranked #22). [March 2008]
  • Chosen by FHM magazine as one of the "100 Sexiest Women in the World" (ranked #62). [1996]
  • Chosen by FHM-Australia as one of the "100 Sexiest Women". [1998]
  • Ranked #32 in AOL's "50 Sexiest Women on TV of All Time" list. [November 2007]
  • Starred in a season three episode of "Gilmore Girls" (2000), which was the backdoor pilot for a California-set spin-off titled "Windward Circle", that was to have starred Milo Ventimiglia, Rob Estes and Fenn. The network dropped the project citing cost issues due to filming on location in Venice, California. "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman wanted to work with Sherilyn Fenn again and wrote the character of Anna Nardini with Fenn in mind, in order to bring her back in the series. The character of Anna was originally to have a strong enough presence to be a potential threat to the character of Lorelai. However, after Sherman-Palladino left the show, the producers changed the direction originally intended for the character, as they decided to make her a villain in a custody battle.
  • Involved, along with Kate Winslet, Rufus Sewell, Miranda Richardson and Paul McGann in the 1998 film project "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline". The film was to be executive produced by Emma Thompson, and written and directed by Fay Efrosini Lellios. The shooting was set to start in June 1998 in New Hampshire. The film was canceled due to financial withdrawal. [1998]
  • Her "Twin Peaks" (1990) character Audrey Horne was chosen by as one of the "50 Best TV Character of All Time" (ranked #24). [2008]
  • Two of her co-stars, Adrian Pasdar (in Slave of Dreams (1995) (TV)) and Bruce Davison (in Lovelife (1997)), later cast her in their feature film directorial debuts, Cement (2000) and Off Season (2001) (TV).
  • After starring alongside Jeremy Piven (in Just Write (1997)), Mark Harmon (in Dillinger (1991) (TV)), and Virginia Madsen (in Zombie High (1987)), she guest-starred on their TV series "Cupid" (1998), "NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" (2003), and "Smith" (2006).
  • Took the part of Lulu Hogg in The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007) (TV) in order to work with director Robert Berlinger again. He had previously directed her on "Rude Awakening" (1998).
  • In an episode of VH1's "The List" (1999) hosted by Johnny Rzeznik, she chose Tommy (1975), Purple Rain (1984) and Spice World (1997) as her top three best rock n' roll films. [December 1999]
  • At the beginning of the shooting of the second season of "Twin Peaks" (1990), came down with a bad case of pneumonia, making headlines that the shooting of the series might be affected or that she might have to leave the show. As writer/producer Harley Peyton said in an interview: "It looked like it could give us some really serious problems. It turned out all right. She was tremendous and recovered rather quickly and came back sooner than she had to. We had different directors shooting each day and two directors shooting in a single day and, in fact, got all of her scenes done".
  • Originally guest starred in the episode of "Frasier" (1993) "The First Temptation of Daphne" but wasn't available when they had to re-shoot some scenes, due to scheduling conflicts. She was eventually replaced by Michelle Stafford. [2001]
  • According to Fenn, her acting coach Roy London played a pivotal role in her development as an actress.
  • Appeared as one of the celebrity models in a charity fashion show staged by Thierry Mugler to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. [April 1992]
  • Attended the 8th Annual Independent Spirit Awards. [March 27, 1993]
  • Director David Lynch said of her: "She's a mysterious girl and I think that actresses like her who have a mystery - where there's something hiding beneath the surface - are the really interesting ones".
  • Created a blog called "Postcards from the Ledge". [January 2009]
  • Co-starred in The Wild Life (1984) along with then-boyfriend Chris Penn.
  • Began filming "Tales from the Crypt: You, Murderer (#6.15)" (1995) the day after her wedding.
  • Dita Von Teese said Fenn's Playboy pictorial was the original inspiration for dying her hair from blonde to black.
  • Posed for photographer Douglas Kirkland for the July 1990 issue of New York magazine, where she graced the cover with an American flag draping her nude body.