Sera’s Leaving Las Vegas
"I may look like the girl next door, but you wouldn't want to live next door to me." Elisabeth Shue.
Flaxen-haired, brown-eyed Elisabeth Shue earned Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, thanks to the portrayal of street-smart prostitute Sera in Mike Figgis' adaptation of John O'Brien's novel, Leaving Las Vegas (1995, opposite Nicolas Cage). Debuting in The Karate Kid (1984), Shue had acted in such films as Adventures in Babysitting (1987), Cocktail (1988), The Saint (1997), Hollow Man (2000) and Hide and Seek (2005). The sister of Fox’s “Melrose Place” star actor Andrew Shue, Elisabeth Shue will star in the upcoming films First Born, and Gracie.
Childhood and Family:
"I spent my whole life trying to play the games males play." Elisabeth Shue.
Born into a well-established and well-educated family on October 6, 1963 in Wilmington, Delaware, Elisabeth J. Shue, nicknamed Lisa, grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. Her parents are James Shue (real-estate developer, former attorney; once ran for Congress as a liberal Republican; split when she was in fourth grade) and Anne Shue (bank executive; ancestors came to America on the Mayflower). The only daughter of the family, Elisabeth has three brothers: William Shue (born in 1962; died in 1988 in a freak swimming accident during a family vacation), Andrew Shue (actor, soccer player; born on February 20, 1967; appeared with Elisabeth in Cocktail, Adventures in Babysitting, and Karate Kid; starred on Fox’s “Melrose Place” and acted in John Grisham's The Rainmaker; married his former agent Jennifer Hageny on October 7, 1995) and John Shue (born in 1969; working in New York City publishing world as of 1995).
Elisabeth was an accomplished high school gymnast with aspirations to the state finals. She also played He studied Government at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and then transferred to Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1985, majored in Political Science. She dropped out her study to pursue an acting career, but later returned and graduated from Harvard University June 8, 2000.
In 1994, Elisabeth Shue married to Davis Guggenheim, director of the HBO TV series “Deadwood.” The couple separated in 1996 but later reconciled. They have two kids: son Miles William Guggenheim (born November 11, 1997; named after Elisabeth’s late brother) and daughter Stella Street Guggenheim (born on March 19, 2001).
"I understand now that the vulnerability I've always felt is the greatest strength a person can have. You can't experience life without feeling life. What I've learned is that being vulnerable to somebody you love is not a weakness, it's a strength." Elisabeth Shue.
Suggested by a friend, Elisabeth Shue joined auditions for TV commercials and began studying acting at New York's Showcase Theatre. After several gigs in commercials, Shue broke into television at age 16 playing a chipper, uniformed spokes clerk in the first of a series of 20 national Burger King commercials. One of Shue’s commercials caught the eye of an ABC talent scout who later gave Shue first professional acting job as the regular role of the teenaged daughter Jackie Sarnac on the ABC acclaimed drama series "Call to Glory" (1984-1985, starring Craig T. Nelson and Cindy Pickett).
Shue soon arrived on the silver screen. She made her screen debut with the top female role as Ralph Macchio's love interest, the beautiful blond girl Ali Mills, in John G. Avildsen's popular martial arts feature The Karate Kid (1984, also with Pat Morita). Following her big screen debut, Shue starred as a student and an assistant for Terence Stamp's animal researcher in Richard Franklin's suspense horror Link (1986) and made her first TV-movie in ABC’s family comedy Double Switch (1987, alongside George Newbern). She won Paris Film Festival Award for Best Actress after portraying the lead role of high school senior and babysitter Chris Parker in Chris Columbus' hit adventure comedy Adventures in Babysitting (1987).
"If I'd known that it was just going to be about these guys throwing drinks around then I might have had some second thoughts.” Elisabeth Shue (on Cocktail (1988)).
Moviegoers remembered Shue became the love interest of Tom Cruise's character, the beautiful and down-to-earth artist Jordan Mooney, in director Roger Donaldson’s romantic drama comedy Cocktail (1988, also with Bryan Brown). Afterward, she starred in Leonard Nimoy's 5-minute film Body Wars (1989) and teamed with Michael J Fox in Robert Zemeckis' sci-fi action comedy Back to the Future Part II (1989), playing Jennifer Parker, which she reprised in its 1990 sequel, Back to the Future III. She also debuted on Broadway stage in a production of "Some Americans Abroad" at Lincoln Center.
The early 1990s saw Shue became Sally Field's aspiring actress daughter in Michael Hoffman's comedy Soapdish (1991). She dotted to her acting resume such films as Heart and Souls (1993), Twenty Bucks (1993), Radio Inside (1994), Blind Justice (1994) and Underneath (1995). She also broke Hollywood scene with the portrayal of street-smart prostitute Sera in Mike Figgis' adaptation of John O'Brien's novel, Leaving Las Vegas (1995), opposite Nicolas Cage. Shue’s solid performance received praise and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
"After Leaving Las Vegas I did assume that things would get a lot easier than they've been. But it's just been a mirror of the way my career's been from the beginning, so for it to have changed would have been strange. My career has never been perfect." Elisabeth Shue.
With an Oscar nomination under her belt, Shue rose to A-list actresses. She appeared in actor-writer-director Woody Allen's star-studded comedy Deconstructing Harry (playing the title role's latest girlfriend Fay) and acted opposite Val Kilmer, playing his love admiration, the pretty young scientist Dr. Emma Russell, in Phillip Noyce's The Saint (both in 1997). Director Des McAnuff cast Shue to play famed courtesan Jenny Cadine in his screen version of Honoré de Balzac's novel, Cousin Bette (1998, starring Jessica Lange) before filmmaker John Duigan handed her the titular role of Aaron Eckhart's autistic sister-turned-genius Molly (1999) in his true-story based movie with the same name.
The new millennium watched Shue as chief lieutenant Linda McKay, a US Government scientist who is working on a serum to make people invisible, in Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi horror Hollow Man (2000, costarring with Kevin Bacon) and portraying Isabelle, a lonely and extremely over-protective single mother of a teen daughter (played by Hannah Hall), in original Oprah Winfrey Presents production based on the best-selling novel by Elizabeth Strout, Amy & Isabelle (2001, ABC). She also portrayed the title role’s depressed and fiery mother in Mehdi Norowzian's drama film loosely inspired by the James Joyce classic “Ulysses,” the American South-set Leo (2002, costarred with Joseph Fiennes and Justin Chambers), and went back on stage, in the Off-Broadway Revival of "Burn This" by Lanford Wilson, costarring with Peter Sarsgaard.
More recent, Shue became the loving but promiscuous mother of a teenage hustler (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Gregg Araki's adaptation of Scott Heim's novel, Mysterious Skin (2004), costarred with Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning in John Polson's suspense horror Hide and Seek (2005) and reunited with Fanning in writer-director John Gatins' family drama Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005, also starring Kurt Russell). Shue will soon complete writer-director Isaac Webb's thriller First Born and is set to star as the tile role, alongside brother Andrew Shue, in Davis Guggenheim's drama Gracie.
"I don't have high expectations anymore. Maybe they've just been beaten out of me." Elisabeth Shue.
Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association: Best Actor, Leaving Las Vegas, 1996
Chicago Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Leaving Las Vegas, 1996
Independent Spirit: Best Female Lead, Leaving Las Vegas, 1996
Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Actress, Leaving Las Vegas, 1995
Paris Film Festival: Best Actress, Adventures in Babysitting, 1988