The West Wing
"I hopefully have a long career ahead of me. So frankly, I'm not in any hurry." Elisabeth Moss
Making her acting debut at the age of six, Elisabeth Moss would be popular among TV viewers as first daughter Zoey Bartlet on NBC's political series “The West Wing” (1999-2006) and as secretary and copywriter Peggy Olson on the AMC original series “Mad Men” (2007-2008). A veteran of series television, Moss has also appeared in the TV series "Picket Fences," "The Practice," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "Invasion," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Grey's Anatomy," "Ghost Whisperer," "Fear Itself," and "Saturday Night."
On the big screen, the gifted actress could be seen in the films "Suburban Commando" (1991), "Once Upon a Forest" (1993; voice), "Imaginary Crimes" (1994), "The Last Supper" (1995), "A Thousand Acres" (1997), "Mumford" (1999), "Anywhere But Here" (1999), "Girl, Interrupted" (1999), "The Missing" (2003), and "Virgin" (2003).
“To go from 'Girl, Interrupted,' where I had to cry every day, to a TV show like 'West Wing' where I get to laugh and joke around every day, has been a welcome relief.” Elisabeth Moss
As for her stage work, Moss made her New York stage debut in March 2002 in Richard Nelson’s "Franny's Way." She also performed on Broadway in a revival of David Mamet's play, "Speed-the-Plow," in 2008.
This 5' 3" award-winning attractive actress is currently engaged to “Saturday Night Live” star Fred Armisen, who is 16 years older than she is.
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of musician Ron Moss, Elisabeth Moss was born on October 15, 1982. Her father, mother, and brother are all in the music business. Her father is a music manager who has managed such musicians as Chick Corea and Mark Isham, and a record company owner. Her mother, Linda Moss, plays the blues harmonica.
Elisabeth began training in ballet at the age of five and studied ballet with Susanne Farrell at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. She graduated high school two years early.
Elisabeth has a fear of heights, spiders, and deep water. She is one of the many celebrities who belong to the Church of Scientology. Other well-known Scientologists include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, and Jenna Elfman.
“I think one of my biggest influences is Bette Davis. I've seen almost every one of her films and she's been very inspiring to me.” Elisabeth Moss
“I think every day there is some new actress comes out and inspires me to do something else, like Hilary Swank. After she did 'Boys Don't Cry,' I felt this yearning to go out and be even half as good as she was.” Elisabeth Moss
Training in ballet at an early age, Elisabeth Moss later decided to choose acting over ballet and made her acting debut at the age of six in the NBC Primetime Emmy-winning miniseries “Lucky Chances” (1990), a romantic drama based on the novels "Chances" and "Lucky" by Jackie Collins. The following year, she made her feature debut as a little girl in the Burt Kennedy-directed sci-fi comedy starring Hulk Hogan, “Suburban Commando” (1991). Moss then provided the voice of Michelle, a badger who became sick from chemical fumes, in the Hanna-Barbera animated feature with an environmental theme, “Once Upon a Forest” (1993), as well as performed the songs “May We Entertain You” and “Baby June and Her Newsboys” in the 1993 movie soundtrack for “Gypsy.” She also played Fairuza Balk’s younger sister in the independent feature inspired by Sheila Ballantyne's book, “Imaginary Crimes” (1994).
In the mid 1990s, Moss portrayed teenager Ashley Judd in the CBS biographical miniseries “Naomi & Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge” (1995). She went on to play a starring role in ABC's remake of the 1974 film “Escape to Witch Mountain” (1995), which is very loosely based on the 1968 Alexander Key novel. She also portrayed a conservative 12-year-old facing the wrath of a group of lethal liberals in Stacy Title's dark comedy “The Last Supper” (1995; starring Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner, and Courtney B. Vance) and appeared in Jocelyn Moorhouse's film adaptation of Jane Smiley's 1992 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “A Thousand Acres,” (1997) opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Jessica Lange.
“I think my guideline has been to find things that inspire me. And as long as I stick to that, I don't think I'll have any problems crossing over to becoming an adult actress.” Elisabeth Moss
1999 saw Moss began playing Zoey Bartlet on NBC's series “The West Wing.” She played the character until 2006 and earned a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 for Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young Actress. About her character in "The West Wing," she said, “I think what I enjoy most about playing Zoey is the fact that she's a lot more comfortable and open than I am. That's one of the wonderful things about acting is that you get to do things that otherwise you would never dream of doing.”
During her “The West Wing” tenure, Moss had a supporting role as Polly 'Torch' Clark, the burn victim, in James Mangold's Academy Award-winning drama film “Girl, Interrupted” (1999; starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie), which was adapted from the best-selling 1993 memoir written by Susanna Kaysen. Meanwhile, on stage, Moss made her New York stage debut in March 2002 as the younger version of the title character in Richard Nelson’s “Franny’s Way” at the Atlantic Theatre in New York City.
In 2003, Moss appeared as pregnant teenager Jessie in Deborah Kampmeier's independent teen drama “Virgin.” For her role in the film, Moss won a Director's Choice Award (Best Actress) at the Sedona International Film Festival. She also received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
From 2005 to 2006, Moss played Christina on the ABC sci-fi drama series “Invasion.” Her role was initially intended as a one episode guest appearance, but she was eventually called back to the show as a recurring character. During this time, Moss also appeared in a series of television advertisements for Secret Deodorant commercials and Excedrin Migraine.
Following the demise of “The West Wing,” Moss was cast as Peggy Olson in the AMC drama series starring Jon Hamm, “Mad Men.” She stayed on the show from 2007 to 2008 and received three Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) nominations, two for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series and one for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. In 2009, she won a SAG for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
“I think it's very much a sort of inner feeling that you get when you figure out exactly what that character is thinking and I think that if you can do that, which is a lot harder than it looks, that's the moment when you really get it. And if you can get that across to the audience, you've done your job. Sometimes you never really know if you've gotten it and sometimes you never figure it out until you see the final product.” Elisabeth Moss
In October 2008, Moss was cast in the pivotal role of Karen, which was originated by Madonna, in a Broadway revival of David Mamet's play, “Speed-the-Plow.” Her costars in the play included Raul Esparza and Jeremy Piven.
Moss is now busy working on her upcoming film projects, "Buddy Gilbert Comes Alive," a movie by writer/director Marc Erlbaum, and "Did You Hear About the Morgans," a romantic comedy by writer/director Marc Lawrence starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant.
“I've worked with a lot of great people, so I've gotten a lot of great advice. But I think the one I use the most, I picked up from James Lapine, who directed 'Earthly Possessions.' He told me to take every sentence and figure out exactly what the thought was behind that sentence and to have a specific thought for every line. And that was something that really opened a lot of doors for me.” Elisabeth Moss
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Mad Men," 2009
Sedona International Film Festival: Director's Choice Award - Best Actress, "Virgin," 2004