Also Credited As:Julia Elizabeth Scarlett Louis-Dreyfus
|Julia Elizabeth Scarlett Louis-Dreyfus on January 13, 1961 in New York City, New York, USA|
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Born Jan. 13, 1961 in Manhattan, NY, Louis-Dreyfus was one of two daughters born to businessman and lawyer William Louis-Dreyfus (the Louis-Dreyfus family included her grandfather, Leopold Louis-Dreyfus, who founded an international firm of the same name, and cousin Robert Louis-Dreyfus, former owner of Adidas) and Phyllis Louis-Dreyfus. Her parents separated when she was a year old, and Louis-Dreyfus relocated with her mother and sister to Washington, D.C., when she was eight (her mother eventually remarried to the dean of George Washington Medical School). Louis-Dreyfus studied theater at Northwest University, where she met her future husband, comedian Brad Hall.
Louis-Dreyfus honed her comedic craft at two of Chicago's best-known improvisational theater groups, the Practical Theater Group (co-founded by Hall and future "SNL" alum Gary Kroeger) and later, with the renowned Second City, which trained talents ranging from John Belushi to Ed Asner. She continued performing at the Practical Theater while at Second City, and it was one of her performances at the former's "Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee" that led to her being asked to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live" (along with Hall and Kroeger) in 1982. Louis-Dreyfus' three-year tenure on the show (which was undergoing a difficult transitional phase from its early heyday) included memorable imitations of Marie Osmond, Joan Mondale, and Nastassia Kinski, as well as several original characters, before she left the cast in 1985 (Hall departed the year prior).
Louis-Dreyfus' landed her first screen role in a low-budget comedy/horror feature, "Troll" (1986), co-starring Michael Moriarty and Sonny Bono, in which she played an apartment dweller who is transformed into a scantily-clad woodland nymph. She followed this inauspicious debut with small roles in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and the C. Thomas Howell comedy, "Soul Man" (1986) before returning to television on the short-lived "Family Ties" (NBC, 1982-89) spin-off, "The Art of Being Nick" (1986) and "Day By Day" (NBC, 1988-89) from "Family Ties" creator Gary David Goldberg. She made one more big screen appearance in the 1989 comedy "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" before joining the cast of comedian Jerry Seinfeld's sitcom, which had been created by former "SNL" writer Larry David.
For her work as Elaine Benes, the soul female in television's most famous comedy quartet, Louis-Dreyfus was honored with a Golden Globe in 1994, an Emmy in 1996 and three Screen Actors' Guild Awards in 1994, 1996 and 1997. A phenomenally popular series with both fans and critics, "Seinfeld" ran for eight seasons before coming to a highly publicized end in 1998. Louis-Dreyfus also gave birth to both of her children during its network run (in 1992 and 1997), lending herself to wearing baggier-than-usual Elaine dresses and sending her on unexplained trips to Europe.
While on "Seinfeld," Louis-Dreyfus appeared sporadically in feature films, most of which were far beneath her talents; these included the dire family film "Jack the Bear" (1993) and the comedies "North" (1994) and "Fathers' Day" (1997). The two non-"Seinfeld" high points during this time were the Neil Simon-penned TV movie "London Suite" (1996), with "Seinfeld" co-star Michael Richards, and a reunion with Woody Allen in "Deconstructing Harry" (1997). Following the conclusion of "Seinfeld," Louis-Dreyfus stepped away from onscreen appearances (though she did continue as the commercial spokesperson for Clairol) to spend time with her family, and relegated her acting roles to a pair of vocal turns in "A Bug's Life" (1998) and the 1999 television adaptation of "Animal Farm."
Louis-Dreyfus returned to onscreen appearances the following year as the Blue Fairy in Drew Carey's charming "Pinocchio" musical "Gepetto." In 2002, she returned to series work in the highly publicized "Watching Ellie" (NBC, 2002), a somewhat novel take on sitcoms (the original premise had episodes unfolding in real time, with a stop clock ticking in the corner of the screen) created and co-produced by Hall and Louis-Dreyfus. But despite an excellent supporting cast that included Steve Carell and Peter Stormare, the show was pulled after limping into its second season. The failure of the program, along with the similar demise of series starring Jason Alexander and Michael Richards, gave rise to the notion of a "curse" visited upon the "Seinfeld" supporting cast - how that iconic show was so good, nothing they did alone could ever compare.
Louis-Dreyfus enjoyed a less stressful recurring role on "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06) as a pathological liar who romanced Jason Bateman, before she took a deep breath and dove back into the supposedly cursed sitcom world with "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 2006-2010). Based on the life of creator Kari Lizer (an actress and writer on "Will and Grace" (NBC, 1998-2006), Louis-Dreyfus played a divorced mother who, because of their son, must contend with her ex-husband and his younger girlfriend who just happens to share her first name.
Unlike her former co-stars Jason Alexander and Michael Richards, Dreyfus proved herself to be the exception to the so-called "Seinfeld Curse." Premiering to strong ratings and generally positive reviews, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was one of the first new shows of the year to receive a full 22-episode commitment. Adding icing on to the cake, Dreyfus would go on to win the Emmy that year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Despite dropping slightly in the ratings during its second season, Dreyfus was again nominated for Best Actress in June 2007 for her role as Christine Campbell. Such was the staying power of Louis-Dreyfus that she racked up another two Emmy nominations in 2008 and 2009 for her work on "Christine," as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in 2009. Also that year, she reunited with all of her "Seinfeld" mates for season seven of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 2000- ), which centered on Larry David (Larry David) creating a reunion show. Meanwhile, in 2010, "Old Christine" was sent out to pasture after five seasons despite its critical acclaim and awards success. Louis-Dreyfus moved on to star in another high-profile comedy, "Veep" (HBO, 2012- ), where she played a narcissistic vice president surrounded by a bumbling staff; the sitcom, created by British comedy veteran Armando Iannucci, won Louis-Dreyfus an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy for each of its first three seasons. Between seasons of "Veep," Louis-Dreyfus subbed for creator and star Tina Fey as Liz Lemon in one scene of a 2010 live episode of "30 Rock" (NBC 2006-2013) and provided a voice for the animated hit "Planes" (2013). She starred opposite James Gandolfini, in one of his final roles, in the critically-acclaimed romantic comedy "Enough Said" (2012), written and directed by Nicole Holofcener.