Juliette Lewis - Biography & Career
The unique and rocky life of Juliette Lewis began on June 21st, 1973 in Hollywood, California. Her father, Geoffrey Lewis, a seasoned character actor and her mother, Glenis Batley, a graphic designer, noticed Juliette's affinity for acting when, at 6 years old, she became obsessed with musicals like Fame and Grease.
With her parents' encouragement, Lewis got her first big role in 1987, on the Showtime miniseries Home Fires. She gained more experience on the television series I Married Dora and The Wonder Years by the time she landed her film debut in the sci-fi comedy, Meet the Hollowheads.
During the late 1980s, Lewis first showed signs of the rebelliousness that she is now known for. After realizing that becoming an actor was her biggest passion in life, she sought work as much as possible. However, child labor laws dictated that teens could only put in a maximum of five hours of work per week.
In order to get around this, Lewis, at 14, went through the court system and became legally emancipated from her parents, meaning she was independent in the eyes of the law. At 15, she dropped out of high school after only three weeks (she did earn her equivalency exam with a tutor's help) and moved to Hollywood.
Amazingly, she bought a car and drove without a license until she was 21 years old.
The streak of rebellion continued one year later when she was arrested for being underage in a nightclub. Fortunately, due to a connection of her father's, all charges were dropped. With this type of behavior serving as fuel for her acting, Lewis received one of her most famous parts to date: Danielle Bowden in the modern version of Cape Fear.
The 1991 film, which also featured Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro, was a big hit, thanks in large part to a chilling scene involving the young starlet and De Niro. In recognition of her great acting effort, she received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1992.
With this role and a budding relationship with Brad Pitt (they met on the set of the TV movie Too Young To Die?) reaching the tabloids, Lewis was quickly viewed as one of Hollywood's brightest new stars.
She impressed critics by appearing in Husbands and Wives (a Woody Allen film), Kalifornia (co-starring Pitt), Romeo Is Bleeding, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape in the two years that followed.
Although Juliette was proving to be a workaholic, her life off the set was less stable. When her and Pitt broke up in February 1993, Lewis began resorting to drugs to escape what had become a busy but rough life. She tried to work through the pain, however, and gave it her all in Oliver Stone's twisted Natural Born Killers in 1994.
Excellent roles in The Basketball Diaries, Strange Days and From Dusk Till Dawn distracted the media from her increasingly serious drug addiction.
Finally, in December 1996, Lewis dealt with her drug problem head-on and committed herself to a drug rehabilitation clinic.
Almost two years went by before she took up acting again, this time in the 1998 comedy Some Girl. By 2000, Lewis was back in full force, having appeared in The Way of the Gun and The Other Sister, a tough role in which she played an independent-minded yet mentally-challenged woman.
After the Showtime feature My Louisiana Sky (for which she received a Daytime Emmy nomination), Juliette appeared in the HBO film Hysterical Blindness and the films Enough (2002), Old School (2003) and Cold Creek Manor (2003).
With a stable career on her hands, it's clear that Lewis has fully rebounded from any past missteps. She is famous for being able to tackle both dark characters and comedic ones, and is set to show off these talents once again in Aurora Borealis and Starsky & Hutch, both in 2004.
Interestingly enough, Lewis has also turned to music, recording songs in a punk-rock style and looking to record an album in the near future. You can also call her an executive producer as well, since she funded The Drummer in 2004, starring Alison Eastwood. Clearly, Juliette Lewis is poised to duplicate the string of successes in the mid-'90s that made her name famous.
On a personal note, Juliette and her husband of nearly four years, professional skateboarder Steve Berra, filed for divorce in April 2003.