American actress Jeanne Tripplehorn became famous after portraying the supporting role of weird Dr. Beth Gardner, a psychologist and love interest of Michael Douglas, in the well-liked erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992), where she earned a Razzie nomination, and as Tom Cruise’s sympathetic wife Abby McDeere in the box office hit The Firm (1993). The lady with the stunningly open face and penetrating frown gained further popularity for playing roles in such movies as Waterworld (1995), Sliding Doors (1998), Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), Steal This Movie, Time Code, Paranoid (all in 2000), Dial 9 for Love (2001) and The Moguls (2005). The stage-trained actress is currently working on the HBO drama “Big Love” (2006-?), playing one of Bill Paxton’s three wives, Barb Henrickson.
Off screen, Tripplehorn was known for her roller coaster relationship with actor/comedian/writer Ben Stiller. Engaged in 1993, the couple decided to end their on-again, off-again relationship after nearly six years together. In 2000, Jeanne married actor Leland Orser. The couple has one son.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of musician parents, Jeanne Tripplehorn was born on June 10, 1963, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her father is Tom Tripplehorn, a former guitarist for the pop group Gary Lewis & The Playboys. She also has a younger brother who is a drummer and rock musician. Jean Neely, Jeanne’s grandmother, appeared in Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites (1994).
Jeanne Tripplehorn, whose nickname is Trippy, was educated in Tulsa’s Edison High School and graduated in 1981. She went on to attend Tulsa University, in Oklahoma, but left her studies after only a year. The Tulsa native also studied drama at the Juilliard School of Drama at Lincoln Center in New York. She married ER star Leland Orser in October 2000, and their son, August Tripplehorn Orser, was born on May 23, 2002.
Developing a passion for performing through her guitarist father, Jeanne Tripplehorn got her start as a local radio and TV host in her native town of Tulsa before breaking onto the stage in 1990 when she debuted in New York with John Patrick Shanley’s off-Broadway production of “The Big Funk.” A year later, she moved to television with a supporting role in the historical TV film The Perfect Tribute, opposite Jason Robards and Lukas Haas, and in 1992, she landed a recurring role in the critically-acclaimed, but short-lived, sketch comedy “The Ben Stiller Show.”
Tripplehorn’s breakthrough, however, arrived when she was cast as Michael Douglas’s girlfriend and psychologist Dr. Beth Gardner in Paul Verhoeven’s popular, controversial Basic Instinct (1992), an erotic thriller which made a sex symbol out of Sharon Stone. The actress’ creepy performance, as well as burning sex scene, helped Tripplehorn catapult her name in the world of Hollywood cinema. Unfortunately, she was nominated for Razzie’s Worst Supporting Actress award in 1993.
The following year saw Tripplehorn divide her time between film and stage. In a 1993 revival of John Ford’s “Tis a Pity She's a Whore,” she had the opportunity to perform at the New York Public Theater with Val Kilmer, while on the big screen, she landed the supporting role of Pastel in the Gen-X romantic comedy The Night We Never Met (1993). Tripplehorn received a huge break when she was hired to replace a pregnant Robin Wright Penn as Abby McDeere, the supportive wife of Tom Cruise, in the blockbuster smash hit The Firm (1993), a thriller film by Sydney Pollack.
The brilliant performance led to Jeanne being cast with other Hollywood A-list actors like Ben Stiller in Reality Bites (1994), Kevin Costner in Waterworld (1995), Dylan McDermott in the romance ‘Til There Was You (1997) and Carol Kane and Molly Ringwald in Office Killer (1997). Also in 1997, she starred with Arliss Howard in an outstanding TV-film adaptation of William Faulkner’s Old Man. 1998 saw roles in Sliding Doors, opposite Gwyneth Paltrow, Snitch, starring Denis Leary and Ian Hart, and the black comedy Very Bad Things. She rounded out the decade with a costarring role opposite British renowned actor Huge Grant, and James Caan in Kelly Makin’s Mickey Blue Eyes.
Tripplehorn continued her versatile film career in 2000 by adding four different projects to her resume. She first portrayed Vincent D’Onofrio’s girlfriend in director Robert Greenwald biopic film Steal This Movie, and then was seen as lesbian thug Lauren Hathaway in Mike Figgis’ experimental ensemble film Time Code. She was then seen working with Jessica Alba in the thriller Paranoid and featured in Eric Styles’ comedy Relative Values. Jeanne costarred with Liev Schreiber in Dial 9 for Love (2001) and portrayed the best friend of a married woman trapped on an abandoned island in Guy Ritchie’s Swept Away (2002). She did not make another film until 2005 when she landed a bit part in the Jeff Bridges and Tim Blake Nelson vehicle The Moguls, a comedy written and directed by Michael Traeger. During her absence from filmmaking, Tripplehorn made a guest appearance in an episode of “Frasier” (2003) and starred with Miami Vice star Don Johnson in the made-for-cable TV Word of Honor (2003).
Currently, Tripplehorn stars as Barb Henrickson, one of Bill Paxton’s three wives, in the HBO polygamy-themed “Big Love” (2006-?). The drama series also stars Chloë Sevingy, Ginnifer Goodwin and Harry Dean Staton.