The Exorcism of Emily Rose
“I will always do theater. I think they're two totally different games, gratifying for two totally different reasons, two totally different challenges. I love New York and I love being a part of something where you get to come in every night and do something from start to finish, ride the ride with a bunch of people watching. I love it.” Jennifer Carpenter on her first and true love, theater
An American gifted young actress who began her career on stage before working in film and television productions, Jennifer Carpenter gained praise as a character actor and became famous with her award-winning starring turn in the horror film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005). In addition to bringing home a MTV Movie Award, the workaholic performer also netted a Saturn and a MTV Movie nomination. She currently plays Debra Morgan on the successful Showtime series “Dexter” (2006-present), where she was nominated for a Saturn Award.
“I don't keep like thirty friends. I keep five really close friends and I hang out with them. I think in LA, your friends become your family and I've got a really good family here. I like to go dancing and partying every once awhile, but I'm a lot quieter than most, I guess.” Jennifer Carpenter
Childhood and Family:
Jennifer Leann Carpenter was born on December 7, 1979, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was educated at the St. Raphael Elementary School and at the Sacred Heart Academy. She was also trained at the celebrated Walden Theatre Company in Louisville. After high school, she attended The Juilliard School in New York City. While growing up in Kentucky, Jennifer often went shooting with her father. She mentioned her aunt as her motivator to pursue a career in acting. She said, “She used to babysit my sister and myself when I was eight. I think she dropped us off at an audition thinking that if we got the parts they would watch us during rehearsals. I accidentally fell in love with it and never considered doing anything else. In fact, I think my dad really wanted me to have a backup and I told him, 'If I thought I really needed a backup, I'd do something else.'”
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Jennifer Carpenter knew she wanted to become an actress when she was 8. About that same time, she had the exposure of playing Tiny Tim at the annual Dickens on Main Street celebration and kept up the role for three years. While training at the Walden School, she landed the role of Helena in the school's production of “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Carpenter made her Broadway debut in 2002 by portraying Mary Warren in the production of Arthur Miller's “The Crucible.” Liam Neeson and Laura Linney also starred in the play. On Laura Linney, she described, “Laura has been a guardian angel to me with her friendship, watching her work and being able to call her when I get a little lost or lose my footing. She's always there.”
Following her Broadway role, Carpenter headed to Los Angeles to try her luck in films. However, it was not an easy task for Carpenter as a struggling actress. She said, “It was really hard living at first. I think you feel the highs a lot more out here and the lows a lot more as well. So when I first got out here, I was stretching $20 to last for a week and waiting tables. I did that for about six months and I don't mind it at all. I was really happy for the experience, but it made me get really aggressive about what I want. You know, I've been doing this since I was 8 and I've never considered doing anything else, so I knew I had to kick it in gear.”
Getting her start in the independent circuit, Carpenter landed the supporting role of Samantha in the independent comedy/drama “Ash Tuesday” (2003), opposite Janeane Garofalo and Giancarlo Esposito, and followed it up with appearances in other independent films like “Last Days of America” (2005), written and helmed by Kevin Ford, and “Lethal Eviction” (2005), costarring Judd Nelson. In addition, she had a bit part as a hysterical student in “D.E.B.S” (2004) and showed her comic flair in the Wayans Brothers’ “White Chicks” (also 2004).
“I loved doing 'White Chicks'. I feel just as comfortable in comedy as I do in drama, and you know, I learned a lot doing that movie, made some of my best friends in the whole world too. I'm really proud of it.” Jennifer Carpenter
Carpenter was cast in her first television series called “Queen B” (2005), directed by actor Danny DeVito and costarring Alicia Silverstone. Unfortunately, only the pilot was made because Fox did not pick up the project. The young actress finally scored a huge breakthrough when she won the role of Emily Rose in the horror film “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005). Carpenter's bravura performance received praise and she was awarded the 2006 MTV Movie award for Best Frightened Performance. The role also brought the actress a MTV nomination for Best Breakthrough Performance and a Saturn nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The success launched Carpenter as both a household name and an applauded character actress. Her close friend Laura Linney also starred in the movie.
Thanks to the impressive role, Carpenter was handed the regular role of Debra Morgan in Showtime's juicy and superb new series, “Dexter” (2006-present). In 2007, she was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Program.
Carpenter is set to play a role in the upcoming action film “The Battle in Seattle” (2007), directed and written by Stuart Townsend. The film stars Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson, Ray Liotta, Ivana Milicevic, Michelle Rodriguez and Joshua Jackson. Discussing future ambitions, Carpenter said: “I'd like to fly a plane. I can shoot a gun, so I'd like to shoot a gun sometime. I want to do a little bit of everything. I would love to play a singer. ‘Coal Miner's Daughter,’ that’s one of my favorite movies in the world. I'd love to play a country singer at some point. I can't believe I'm saying this out loud!”
MTV Movie: Best Frightened Performance, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” 2006