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On a not unusual day in the early 90's, the Trevor Day School cafeteria was busy feeding a mixture of children and teachers, but on this seemingly normal day there happened to be a casting director with a sharp eye for talent among the mix. Though unbeknownst to anyone, this casting director was about to spark a change in a young girls life.

Leelee Sobieski was just a preteen, but she held a vision - instilled in her by her artistic parents - of what she thought she'd become. Like many her age, she could recite a long list of possible career choices, and those in the top running were following in her parents footsteps. Her dream was to be a writer like Elizabeth, her mom, or a painter like Jean, her father. However when the casting director approached her in her New York City school, Leelee became curious about acting.

"They asked me to come into the casting director's office and meet with them," Leelee says. "I was absolutely awful. I didn't do a very good job. But that's not important. I thought: 'Well, that's kind of strange and I really sucked but it is kind of amusing that, out of the blue, I get asked to do this when it's the last thing I expected, so I might as well give it a try.' And that was kind of my approach. If, all of a sudden, something changes in one direction, I'll give it a try. And then, if it works, go for it. If not, then change to another direction. Then I took some acting lessons and started to like it more and more."

Before long Leelee was getting parts in commercials and guesting in TV shows. What started as a fun curiosity, was becoming a new creative outlet, and was starting to change her life.

The Background

Leelee with her parents

Leelee was born in New York City as Liliane Rudabet Gloria Elsveta Sobieski on June 10, 1983. Her birth name is rich with her French and Polish heritage. "Liliane is the name of my father's mother," says Leelee. "It was a little too serious and formal for a little girl. So they called me Leelee. Elsveta comes from my mother's side of the family. It's Elizabeth in Polish."

Leelee grew up in New York City's Upper West Side, and spent time in France with her father's family. "We were never very wealthy," she says "but we had the luxury of going to Hšagen-Dazs and getting ice cream. Those little, childish, sweet luxuries."

Young Leelee

Besides ice cream, her parents helped her and her brother Roby (born 1989) to appreciate the culture that surrounded them. At a very young age Leelee went to art galleries and attended Shakespearean plays. "My parents are my best friends," says Leelee. "They kept me very protected, so I couldn't get hurt physically or emotionally by anybody."

The Sobieski family is a direct descendant of Polish royalty. "Many generations back," says Leelee, "there was a king in Poland and he was my great great great great Uncle. The Bagel was [invented] for him. A Jewish baker made it for him, in the shape of a saddle."

The Rap Sheet

"A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries" (1998)

As Leelee's acting ability increased she was seen more and more on TV. She racked up appearances on "Grace Under Fire" and the TV movies "Reunion" and "A Horse For Danny". Her feature film debut occurred in 1997, when she appeared in Disney's "Jungle 2 Jungle" with Tim Allen and Martin Short.

In 1998 Leelee's career was taken to new heights by two films. She played Channe Willis, In the independent Merchant-Ivory production of "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries". The film won her critical acclaim and boosted her stardom among art-house patrons. In sharp contrast to the limited release of "A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries", the blockbuster film "Deep Impact" brought Leelee's likeness to the mainstream audience.

"Joan of Arc" (1999)

1999 proved to be a banner year for Leelee. She received an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination for her role as Joan in the CBS miniseries "Joan Of Arc". She costarred in "Never Been Kissed" with Drew Barrymore; turning down the role of the popular girl to play the more interesting math nerd. 1999 also saw the much anticipated release of the late Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut". Leelee appeared opposite Tom Cruise in the role she acted for Kubrick when she was just 14.

Is it better to love and lose or never to have loved at all? Leelee Sobieski and Chris Klein are trying to answer that age-old question in the romantic movie "Here on Earth." The movie stars Chris Klein as a private-schooled rich kid whose run-in with a town local named Jasper (Josh Hartnett) results in disaster, placing both young men under the same roof for the summer. A love triangle soon forms with Jasperís girlfriend, Samantha (Leelee Sobieski), and the intersection brings discovery, tragedy and hope.

"Joy Ride" (2001)

Autumn of 2001 definitely was "The Autumn of Leelee Sobieski". First up was Columbia Pictures release of the expertly crafted thriller "The Glass House", in which Leelee co-stars with Diane Lane and Stellan Skaarsgard. On the heels of "The Glass House" was the October 5th Fox release of director John Dahlís downright terrifying "Joy Ride", co-starring Paul Walker and Steve Zahn. November was a Leelee double-header month: on the 2nd Paramount Classics released the poignant "My First Mister", a Christine Lahti-directed film starring Sobieski as a young goth girl who befriends mall shop owner Albert Brooks; and finally, Jon Avnet-directed NBC mini-series "Uprising."

"L'idole" (2002)

One year later Leelee has returned onscreen with two european films - "L'idole" and "Max". "In "L'idole" I play an actress... I play a young Australian girl living in Paris and she is the understudy in a play. I'm having an affair with the lead actor of the play. The person I'm the understudy for is married to the lead actor. I don't like her. Her name is Sylvie Martin and my character is obsessed with this. And she's living in this apartment. There's this old Chinese man who's like 74 who's her next door neighbour and they kind of become best friends. It's directed by Samantha Lang, who's this young Australian director who did "The Well."

The "Max" is about Max Rothman (John Cusack), who has returned from the Great War. He's a promising artist whose career as a painter is over, as a result of losing an arm in battle. Max opens a cutting edge gallery where he sells the work of artists like Max Ernst, Paul Klee and George Grosz. He has a beautiful ballet dancer wife, perfect children, wealthy parents, and a talented and passionate mistress (Leelee Sobieski). Then he meets a fellow war veteran and aspiring artist called Adolf Hitler.

"Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (2003)

In the beginning on 2002 it was announced that Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett and Leelee Sobieski will star in the French miniseries "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (Dangerous Liaisons), based on Choderlos de Laclos' classic 18th century novel. French helmer Josee Dayan will direct. In "Liaisons," adapted by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, we will see Sobieski portray Cecile Volanges, an innocent young girl who becomes a pawn and later a participant in the Machiavellian sexual games of her elders, Madame de Merteuil (Deneuve) and Valmont (Everett).

The Present And Beyond

Leelee currently studies at Brown, Providence. "It's really nice. I'm living in a dorm room and I've got a roommate. I didn't know her until I got to the school and she's really nice... I'm happy to get away from actors. That doesn't sound right. It's nice to be with "real" people... It's nice to get away from the film industry. It's very exciting but it's also kind of a fake place and it is "la-la land". It is Hollywood but college isn't a real environment either. It's like a bubble but to be in a different bubble is nice. "

When Leelee's busy life gives her a short break she enjoys the diversions of painting, writing poetry, and collecting key chains and locks of hair from her costars.

"Craig Kilborn Show" (12/26/2002)

The 5' 10" blue eyed young woman has achieved more in her years than some actresses do in a lifetime, but traveling at a pace that would make Richard Petty proud is just what Leelee intends to keep doing. Among her future goals remain her originals. She still wants to paint and write, but she adds to her ambitions to be a screenwriter and a director. She says, "[In 25 years] I'll be married, I'll have 2 kids - boy and a girl. I will have directed five movies, if not more. I will have had many expositions. I will be with my kids all the time. I will travel a lot. I won't be acting as much as I am now - maybe just one movie a year. I'll be creating; I don't know what, maybe designing chairs or something!"

Compiled by Winston (2001)
Edited by Serge (2006)
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