Also Credited As:Selma Blair Beitner
|Selma Blair Beitner on June 23, 1972 in Southfield, Michigan, USA|
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Born Selma Blair Beitner on June 23, 1972 in Southfield, MI, the actress was the youngest of four girls. Her parents, Elliot and Molly Ann Beitner, divorced when she was 23; after which, she legally dropped her father's name. "I have nothing to do with my father," she said. "He is out of my life." Her mother introduced her daughters as "the brain, the athlete, the klutz and then there was Selma - the manic-depressive." Blair said she really was not that troubled, although her mom gave her a necklace with a smile on one side and a frown on the other to reflect her quick-changing moods. She attended a Jewish day school and then Cranbrook Kingswood school in Bloomfield Hills, MI before attending Kalamazoo College her freshman year, where she acted in a play titled "The Little Theater of the Green Goose."
Blair moved to New York City to pursue photography after graduating magna cum laude from University of Michigan in 1994 with a degree in photography and a minor in English, but she soon took interest in a different field - acting. Her training at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting and Column Theater helped her land a few small roles in the early 1990s. She auditioned for the title role in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB, 1997-2007; UPN, 2001-03) in 1997, but lost out to her future co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar. That same year, she had an uncredited role in "Scream 2" as Gellar's character's friend. Unfortunately, she did not receive any screen time, as it was merely her voice used during a phone call scene.
In what was regarded as her breakout role, the actress appeared in the 1999 film "Cruel Intentions," based on the classic novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the Stephen Frears-directed "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988). The movie starred Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Philippe and Gellar, whom Blair shared a passionate onscreen lip lock with. The scene where Gellar's mean queen taught Blair's naïve Cecile how to French kiss won the MTV Movie Award for "Best Kiss." The wheels started turning faster for the star when she was cast as Z Bean in the twenty-something TV series "Z , Duncan, Jack and Jane" (WB, 1999-2000). The show, unfortunately, failed to connect with the audience and only lasted two seasons.
Blair formed a close friendship with her "Cruel" costar Witherspoon. They worked together again in the hilarious "Legally Blonde," playing law school archrivals. Their brunette vs. blonde clash onscreen was comical and entertaining in a Betty vs. Veronica kind of vein. "She's a little wacky," Witherspoon said of her raven-haired co-star. "But wacky in that great way, (like) a Mary Tyler Moore sort of personality. She's just one of the great comediennes of her generation." Blair continued starring in more girl-power movies in the early millennium, acting alongside Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate in the sometimes vulgar comedy "The Sweetest Thing" (2002), and playing a preppie girl about to get married in "A Guy Thing" (2003).
Even though Blair could have taken on strictly mainstream projects and been successful, she also chose cutting edge roles in critically praised independent films, such as "Kill Me Later" (2001) with Max Beesley. She took the offbeat step further in the controversial "Storytelling" (2001) from director Todd Solondz, where her troubled character was described in the movie as "a spoiled, suburban white girl with a Benetton complex." The movie's first scene took off with a bang, with Blair having raunchy sex with her onscreen boyfriend who suffers from cerebral palsy.
By the mid-2000s, Blair was one of the busiest and most in-demand actresses in Hollywood. She took on the role of Liz Sherman in Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" (2004). She reprised the role four years later in "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (2008), also directed by del Toro. Yet playing a girl with pyrokinetic powers in the "Hellboy" films did not compare to her role in "A Dirty Shame" (2004). In the John Waters' comedy, the actress wore humongous prosthetic breasts to play stripper, Caprice Stickles.
Despite acting alongside a who's-who of Hollywood leading men - from Topher Grace in "In Good Company" (2004) to Edward Burns in "Purple Violets" (2007) to Greg Kinnear in "Feast of Love" (2007) - Blair's personal life was never a hot topic in tabloids, compared to other actresses of her time. She married actor and musician Ahmet Zappa, the son of the late singer-songwriter Frank Zappa, in January 2004, but they divorced in 2006. However, Blair's fashion forward style was closely followed, not only by Hollywood cameras, but also by young fashionistas who looked up to her as one of its hipster princesses. Experimenting with different looks in short periods of time, she sported everything from a Mohawk, a pixie cut and a Louise Brooksesque bob, stating that she had "no fears when it comes to my hair and clothes."
Aside from the short-lived "Z , Duncan, Jack and Jane" and a 2002 holiday-themed episode of "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), Blair's big screen work had filled up the majority of her resume. However some of the better parts - particularly for actresses - were becoming increasingly found on television by the turn of the millennium. So like many of her fellow film "It" girls, Blair turned her attention back to the small screen, with "Kath and Kim," co-starring with the hilarious Molly Shannon. In the series based on an Australian TV show of the same name, the twosome recreated the dysfunctional duo of a foxy 40-something mother (Shannon) and her childish and celebrity-obsessed daughter (Blair). Interestingly enough, Shannon was only eight years older than her onscreen daughter. Critics had their knives sharpened for any successful television overseas import that has been Americanized, but it was one of the more hotly anticipated series of the fall 2008 season.