Sheryl Lee

From Wikipedia

Sheryl Lee
Sheryl Lee 01 (14948055197).jpg
Lee at the Fan Expo Canada in 2014
Sheryl Lynn Lee

(1967-04-22) April 22, 1967 (age 54)
Alma mater University of Colorado Boulder
Years active1986–present
Jesse Diamond
( m. 2000, divorced)

Sheryl Lynn Lee (born April 22, 1967) is a German-born American film, stage, and television actress. After studying acting in college, Lee relocated to Seattle, Washington to work in theater, where she was cast by David Lynch as Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson on the 1990 cult TV series Twin Peaks and in the 1992 spin-off film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. After completing Twin Peaks, she returned to theater, appearing in the title role of Salome on Broadway opposite Al Pacino.

Her film roles include Astrid Kirchherr in Backbeat (1994), as well as a lead role in the drama Mother Night (1996), the role of Katrina in John Carpenter's Vampires (1998) and the part of April in Winter's Bone (2010). She has had recurring roles on such television series as One Tree Hill (2005–06) and Dirty Sexy Money (2007–2009), and later reprised her role of Laura Palmer in the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks in 2017.

Early life

Lee was born in Augsburg, Bavaria, West Germany (present-day Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany) to an artist mother and architect father;[ citation needed] the first of three children. She grew up in Boulder, Colorado, United States, where she was a graduate of Fairview High School (class of 1985). After graduating, Lee moved to Pasadena, California where she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and later attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, and the University of Colorado.

After several years of studying, Lee moved to Seattle, Washington where she acted in several stage plays [1] [2] and appeared in several commercials. [3] She studied with theater director Mark Jenkins at the now-defunct Empty Space Theater in Seattle. [4]


1986—1993: Career beginnings and Twin Peaks

Lee arriving at the 1990 Emmy Awards

Lee's first television role was as the dead Laura Palmer in the television series Twin Peaks. To save on money, creator David Lynch intended to cast a local girl from Seattle "just to play a dead girl". [5] The local girl ended up being Sheryl Lee. Lynch asked Lee to audition for him after seeing a publicity photo of her in Seattle from one of the plays she was starring in at the time. [6] "But no one — not Mark, me, anyone — had any idea that she could act, or that she was going to be so powerful just being dead." [5] Indeed, the image of Lee wrapped in plastic as well as her Homecoming Queen-Photo became one of the show's most enduring and memorable images. When Lynch shot the home movie that James Hurley takes of Donna Hayward and Laura, he realized that Lee had something special. "She did do another scene — the video with Donna on the picnic — and it was that scene that did it." [5] As a result, Sheryl Lee became a semi-regular addition to the cast, appearing in flashbacks as Laura, and becoming a recurring character, Laura's cousin Maddy Ferguson later in the series (a role which was reportedly written because Lynch, impressed with her abilities, wanted to give her a fuller role on the show). She worked again with Lynch when she appeared as Glinda the Good Witch in Wild at Heart (1990).

She also starred in the prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which elaborated on events leading up to Laura Palmer's death. While the film itself was a critical and financial failure at the time of its release, Lee was praised by the critics for her performance, which earned her nominations at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Saturn Awards for Best Actress.

In 1992 Lee starred as Salome alongside Al Pacino in the Broadway production of Oscar Wilde's Salome in the Circle in the Square Theatre under the direction of Robert Allan Ackerman. The play co-starred Suzanne Bertish, Esai Morales and Arnold Vosloo. [7]

1994—2004: Backbeat and Post-Peaks career

In 1994 she was cast as Astrid Kirchherr in the film Backbeat, a bio-pic of the early career of The Beatles opposite Stephen Dorff. The following years, Lee played the part of Liza in Gary Walkow's 1995 adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella Notes from Underground opposite Henry Czerny, the role of Helga and Resi Noth in the 1996 romantic war film Mother Night, based on Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 novel of the same name, starred alongside Craig Sheffer in Bliss (1997) and played the role of Katrina in John Carpenter's 1998 film Vampires opposite James Woods and Daniel Baldwin. She played also a leading role in the 1999 crime drama film Angel's Dance with Kyle Chandler and Jim Belushi and starred as Dr. Sarah Church in the short lived series L.A. Doctors (1998—1999) which ran for a single season.

Lee starred opposite Anthony Michael Hall as the sweet but vengeful housewife Eve Robbins in the 2001 USA Cable movie Hitched.

In 2001 she presented the I Love 1990 segment of the BBC's popular I Love 1990s series.

There is speculation that she (and Phobe Augustine, who played her friend Ronette in Twin Peaks) appeared in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001). Many online databases even list them as appearing uncredited in the movie, but it's unknown if it's actually them or actresses who look similar to Laura and Ronette, and it has never been confirmed either way. [8] [9]

She played the leading role of Elinore Murphy in Children on Their Birthdays (2002), based on the short story of the same title by Truman Capote. In the 2003 television series Kingpin, she played the role of Marlene Cadena opposite Yancey Arias and Bobby Cannavale.

In 2004 Lee was the original choice for the role of Mary-Alice Young on Desperate Housewives. It would have been the second time she would have played a dead character on a series; however, the producers ultimately chose to replace her with Brenda Strong, as producers thought that Lee was not right for the part. [10] Strong commented on the casting change for her character, explaining, "I think it was a conceptual shift ... There certainly wasn't something wrong with what [Lee] did. It was just that instead of vanilla they wanted chocolate, and I happened to be chocolate."

2005—present: Return to television and Independent films

Sheryl attending the Wizard World Chicago in 2012

In 2005–06, she played the recurring role of Ellie Harp, the biological mother of Peyton Sawyer (played by Hilarie Burton), who battles breast cancer, on the third season of the WB Network series One Tree Hill. In 2007 and 2008 Lee appeared on the ABC dramedy Dirty Sexy Money as Andrea Smithson, the mother of Brian Darling's ( Glenn Fitzgerald) illegitimate child. Lee, along with several other Twin Peaks cast members, guest starred in a special Twin Peaks-themed episode of Psych titled " Dual Spires." Other cast members reunited with Lee included Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Lenny Von Dohlen (Harold Smith), Robyn Lively (Lana Budding Milford), and Catherine E. Coulson (The Log Lady).

In 2010 she appeared in a supporting role as April in Debra Granik's Winter's Bone (which won best picture at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010). The film is about a seventeen-year-old girl ( Jennifer Lawrence) in the rural Ozarks, caring for her mentally-ill mother and her younger brother and sister, when she discovers that her father put their house and land up as a bond for a court appearance, at which he failed to appear. Lee won two Awards for Best Ensemble at Detroit Film Critics Society and Gotham Awards, shared with the cast. Lee played Lucie Sliger in the 2011 crime thriller Texas Killing Fields alongside Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Chloë Grace Moretz.

In the art drama thriller White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), written and directed by Gregg Araki, she played May opposite Shailene Woodley and Eva Green. In 2015, at the Twin Peaks UK Festival, Lee confirmed that she would be returning to Twin Peaks for the 2017 limited Showtime run. [11]

In 2016 she appeared in a supporting role as Air in the Netflix production Rebirth, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and had a small part as Karen in Café Society, written and directed by Woody Allen. The film had its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. In 2017 she reprised her role as Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks and also playing the part of Carrie Page, making it her third character in the series. Although she was credited in every one of the 18 episodes, most of her appearance was in archive footage. New material of her was seen in the episodes Part 2, Part 17 and Part 18. The same year, she starred as Alley in the short film Dead Ink Archive by David Schendel, making it their second collaboration after the 1994 film The Can (which was filmed in the late 1980s). In 2018 Lee played one of the leads in the Teen-Thriller #SquadGoals as Emily Hodges.

In 2019, Lee returned to Theater, playing alongside Judd Nelson in Love Letters. She performed the play before in 1991 with Luke Perry and Tim Daly as co-stars. [12]

The 2020 released book Laura's Ghost: Women Speak about Twin Peaks by Courtenay Stallings, which explores the legacy of the fictional character Laura Palmer, played by Lee in the television show Twin Peaks, features interviews and a foreword from Lee. [13]

Personal life

Sheryl Lee at 42nd Emmy Awards (1990)

Lee dated David Duchovny, who was one of her Twin Peaks cast-mates. She was at one time married to Jesse Diamond, a photographer and son of singer and songwriter Neil Diamond. [14] They have a son, Elijah, born in 2000. [15]

In 2014, Lee revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called neutropenia. [15]

Lee is also a Teacher at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. [16] Together with her former Twin Peaks castmate Gary Hershberger (who played Mike Nelson), Lee teaches actors, directors and writers at their workshop "The Actor's Director Workshop". [17]

Philanthropy and activism

In October 2008, Lee participated in the 3rd Munchkin's Project Pink annual breast cancer awareness campaign to raise money for breast cancer research. [18] [19] [20]

Additionally, Lee has also participated in various environmentalist events and charities: In November 2000, she attended the premiere of the public awareness campaign Why Are We Here?, to raise awareness for biodiversity protection, [21] In 2011, Lee attended the iMatter March in Denver, Colorado to raise awareness about climate change, [22] and also supported the Ride for Renewables project to promote renewable energy. [23] In December 2011, Lee advocated the protection of wolves and supported the environmental organization WildEarth Guardians' "Wolves in the American West" campaign. [24]

In September 2012, Lee signed environmental activist Tom Weis' open letter calling on President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney to withdraw their support for the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL, a pipeline that would transport bitumen from Montana to Texas. Other signatories included climate scientist James Hansen and actors Daryl Hannah, Mariel Hemingway, and Ed Begley, Jr. [25]

On December 8, 2012, Lee performed poems written by herself as part of a collaborative performance along with artist Marina DeBris, dancer Maya Gabay, and musician Marla Leigh, for the U.S. National Committee for UN Women's First Annual Special Assembly: Women, Climate Change, and Human Rights. [26]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 He's No Hero Liz Short film
1988 The Can N/A according to IMDb not released until 1994 [27]
1990 Wild at Heart The Good Witch
1992 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me Laura Palmer
1992 Jersey Girl Tara
1993 Mr. Jones June Uncredited
1994 Backbeat Astrid Kirchherr
1994 Guinevere Guinevere
1994 Don't Do It Michelle
1995 Fall Time Patty / Carol
1995 Homage Lucy Samuel
1995 Notes from Underground Liza
1996 Mother Night Helga Noth / Resi Noth
1997 This World, Then the Fireworks Lois Archer
1997 Bliss Maria
1997 The Blood Oranges Fiona
1998 Vampires Katrina
1998 Kiss the Sky Andy
1998 Dante's View Sam Kingsley
1999 Angel's Dance Angelica "Angel" Chaste
2002 Children on Their Birthdays Elinore Murphy
2006 Paradise, Texas Betsy Kinney
2010 Winter's Bone April
2011 Texas Killing Fields Lucie Sliger
2014 White Bird in a Blizzard May
2014 Jackie & Ryan Miriam
2014 The Makings of You Judy also known as Never My Love [28]
2016 Rebirth Air
2016 Café Society Karen Stern
2017 Dead Ink Archive Alley Short film
2018 Deadly Scholars Emily Hodges also known as #SquadGoals
TBA Down to Nothing Brandy Short film, post-production

Television and web

Year Title Role Notes
1990–1991 Twin Peaks Laura Palmer / Maddy Ferguson Series regular
18 episodes
1991 Love, Lies and Murder Patti Bailey Miniseries
1992 Red Shoe Diaries Kate Lyons Episode: "Jake's Story"
1994 Guinevere Guinevere Television film
1994 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Catherine Episode: " Another Woman"
1994 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Actress ( voice) Episode: " Krumm Goes Hollywood"
1995 Follow the River Mary Draper Ingles Television film
1997 David Bathsheba Miniseries
1998–1999 L.A. Doctors Dr. Sarah Church Main role
22 episodes
2001 Hitched Eve Robbins Television film
2001 I Love the '90s Herself / Presenter [29] Episode: "I Love 1990"
2003 Kingpin Marlene McDillon Cadena Miniseries
2003 Without a Trace Tina Hodges Episode: " Coming Home"
2004 Desperate Housewives Mary Alice Young Unaired Television pilot
2005–2006 One Tree Hill Elizabeth "Ellie" Harp 9 episodes
2006 The Secrets of Comfort House Wendy Television film
2006 CSI: NY Ellen Garner Episode: " And Here's To You, Mrs Azrael"
2006 House M.D. Stephanie Green Episode: " Cane and Able"
2007 Manchild Mary Television pilot
2007 State of Mind Leslie Petrovsky Episode: "Pilot"
2007–2009 Dirty Sexy Money Andrea Smithson 12 episodes
2010 Lie to Me Janet Brooks Episode: " Bullet Bump"
2010 Psych Dr. Donna Gooden Episode: " Dual Spires"
2012 Perception Lacey Pinderhall Episode: " 86'd"
2016 Rosewood Brenda Downs Episode: "Keratin & Kissyface"
2017 Twin Peaks Laura Palmer / Carrie Page 3 episodes
2019 Correspondence Mona (voice) 4 episodes
2019 Limetown Alison Haddock 2 episodes
2020 JJ Villard's Fairy Tales Doreen (voice) Episode: "Boypunzel"

Video games

Year Title Voice role
1994 Murder Mystery 3: Who Killed Brett Penance? Lucie Fairwell
1994 Murder Mystery 4: Who Killed Taylor French? Lucie Fairwell
2010 BioShock 2 Gossiping Baby Jane Splicer

Music videos

Year Performer Music video Role
1994 The Backbeat Band Money (That's What I Want) Herself / Astrid Kirchherr
1994 Please Mr. Postman

Stage credits

Year Title Role Theatre / Venue Ref.
c. 1982 The Bad Seed Mom Fairview High School [30]
c. 1982 The Haunting of Hill House
1986 Crimes of the Heart National Theatre Conservatory [31]
1988 Electric River Pioneer Square Theater
1989 Emerald City Empty Space Theatre
1991 Love Letters Melissa Gardner Canon Theater [12]
1992 Salome Salome Circle in the Square Theatre [32]
2019 Love Letters Melissa Gardner Kenan Auditorium [33]


Year Title Notes Ref.
2017 The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer Narrator [34]

Awards and recognition

List of acting awards and nominations
Year Film / Title Award Category Result Ref.
1992 Twin Peaks Soap Opera Digest Awards Best Death Scene: Prime Time Nominated [35]
1993 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me 8th Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead [36]
19th Saturn Awards Best Actress [37]
1995 Body of Work Sundance Film Festival Spirit of Sundance Award Honored [38]
1999 Vampires 25th Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [39]
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actress Won
2004 Kingpin Prism Awards Performance in a TV Movie or Miniseries Nominated [35]
2010 Winter's Bone Detroit Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Won [40]
Gotham Independent Film Awards 2010 [41]
Southeastern Film Critics Association Runner-up [42]
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Performance Nominated [35]
2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Ensemble Cast [43]
2018 The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer Audie Award Best Female Narrator [44]


  1. ^ "Exclusive Sheryl Lee Interview". Twin Peaks on Showtime. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  2. ^ Wenzel, Jon (April 11, 2014). "Sheryl Lee on the "Twin Peaks" anniversary, her Colorado roots and why she's coming back this summer". Denver Post. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Burns, Andy (February 24, 2015). "She's Filled With Secrets: The Sheryl Lee Interview". Wrapped In Plastic. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Buck, Jerry (February 17, 1991). "'Twin Peeks' Sheryl Lee Is Accused of Murder This Time Around on NBC". Tulsa World. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Rodley, Chris (1997). Lynch on Lynch. London: Faber & Faber Limited. ISBN  0-571-19548-2.
  6. ^ Gliatto, Tom (1991). "With Laura Palmer Wrapped, Sheryl Lee Plays A Role Based on a Nightmare Darker Than Twin Peaks Could Ever Be". Details. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved March 6, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
  7. ^ Gussow, Mel (June 26, 1992). "Review/Theater; Al Pacino's Very Personal Vision Makes a Splash". New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  8. ^ dugpa. "Mulholland Drive Mystery". Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  9. ^ "Theory: Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer Is In Mulholland Drive". ScreenRant. May 21, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  10. ^ McDougall, Charles (January 5, 2005). "Desperately seeking a ratings hit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 15, 2010.
  11. ^ Locker, Melissa (January 17, 2015). "Laura Palmer is Returning to Twin Peaks". Vanity Fair. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Oloizia, Jeff (October 1, 2019). "YOU'VE GOT MAIL: Four beloved actors take on A.R. Gurney's timeless play about romantic pen pals".
  13. ^
  14. ^ Wedemeyer, Jessica (June 6, 2016). "Sheryl Lee now – Twin Peaks cast". Wonderwall. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Staff Writer (November 11, 2014). "Twin Peaks' Sheryl Lee reveals blood disorder has left her struggling". Colorado Newsday. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "The Actor's Director Workshop". Actor's Director.
  18. ^ "Munchkin, Inc. – maker of award-winning infant and toddler products is once again reminding women everywhere "Don't Duck a Breast Exam" with the return of its successful Project Pink breast cancer awareness campaign". October 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  19. ^ "Sheryl Lee supports breast cancer research". October 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  20. ^ "Munchkin, Inc. Reminds Women Everywhere "Don't Duck a Breast Exam" with Third Annual Project Pink Charity Campaign". FindArticles. Open Publishing. August 5, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  21. ^ "November 15 Premiere of 'Why Are We Here?' to Feature Bevy of Environmentally-Concerned Celebrities". November 13, 2000. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  22. ^ Roberts, Michael (May 16, 2011). "Darryl Hannah, Sheryl "Laura Palmer" Lee add star power to climate change march". Westword. Village Voice Media. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "Ride Friends". Ride for Renewables. Retrieved September 29, 2011.
  24. ^ "Actress Sheryl Lee Advocates For Wolves". WildEarth Guardians. December 2011. Archived from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2011.
  25. ^ "Open Letter to President Obama and Governor Romney: Defend America Against Keystone XL Economic, Public Health & National Security Threat". Ride for Renewables. September 26, 2012. Archived from the original on October 3, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  26. ^ "Women, Climate Change and Human Rights: UN Women-USNC Greater Los Angeles Chapter First Annual Special Assembly". GenerationGreen.TV. December 17, 2012. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
  27. ^ "The Can" – via
  28. ^
  29. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Sheryl Lee presenting "I Love 1990"". YouTube.
  30. ^ "An Interview With Sheryl Lee |". 25YL. September 13, 2019.
  31. ^ "Sheryl Lee". IMDb.
  32. ^ "Sheryl Lee – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB".
  33. ^ Kosikowski, Ashlea. "'Love Letters' to bring together Ryan O'Neal, Ali MacGraw, Sheryl Lee and Judd Nelson".
  34. ^ Plaugic, Lizzie (February 15, 2017). "Audible is releasing an audiobook version of a Twin Peaks spinoff novel". The Verge. Retrieved April 21, 2017.
  35. ^ a b c "Sheryl Lee". IMDb.
  36. ^
  37. ^ "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me – IMDb" – via
  38. ^ "Sheryl Lee | TV Guide".
  39. ^ "Vampires – IMDb" – via
  40. ^ "Happenings & 'Round The Town". July 9, 2011. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
  41. ^ Cox, Gordon (October 19, 2010). "Women at the helm of Gotham nominations".
  42. ^ "Social Network, King's Speech, Winter's Bone Big Winners in 2010 SEFCA Awards". Nashville Scene.
  43. ^ "2010 EDA Awards Nominees – ALLIANCE OF WOMEN FILM JOURNALISTS".
  44. ^ "2018 Audie Awards® – APA".

Further reading

External links