First appearing on screen with an uncredited role in the little-known indie film Black and White (1999), Pell James eventually landed her first starring role as Brier, an aspiring New York model who made a move to Los Angeles to launch an acting career, in the drama comedy film Undiscovered (2005; also starring Steven Strait, Ashlee Simpson, Shannyn Sossamon and Carrie Fisher). She has appeared in the TV series "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and in the films Uptown Girls (2003), The King (2005), Broken Flowers (2005) and Zodiac (2007). The 5' 4" tall actress from Virginia will star in the upcoming films Fanboys and Surveillance.
Childhood and Family:
On April 30, 1977, Pell James was born in Virginia, to a substance-abuse counselor mother and a lawyer father. Her stepfather is a former employee for the State Department. Pell has three sisters, one lives in Texas, and the two others live in Virginia. She went to college at New York University, but left early to pursue an acting career. However, she has planned to go back to NYU to receive an honorary degree.
Pell welcomed her first child in 2006.
Leaving NYU early to pursue her dream for acting, Pell James landed an uncredited role as herself in writer-director James Toback's Black and White (1999). The little-known indie film stars Elijah Wood, Claudia Schiffer, Brooke Shields, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jared Leto.
In the new millennium, she began appearing on television, in an episode of NBC police procedural and legal drama series "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." She also appeared in the HBO movie based on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Strip Search, directed by Sidney Lumet and stars Glenn Close and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Meanwhile, she was cast in Boaz Yakin's 2003 comedy/drama movie starring Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning, Uptown Girls.
2005 saw James in writer-director Graeme Whifler's horror/thriller Neighborhood Watch and in James Marsh's acclaimed drama film, The King, in which she played Gael García Bernal's half-sister who has a sexual affair with him. She also appeared in Jim Jarmusch's comedy-drama film starring Bill Murray, Broken Flowers, which was nominated for "Golden Palm" Award and won "Grand Prize of the Jury" at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, and in Stefan C. Schaefer's political thriller starring Eugene Byrd, Confess.
James eventually got her first leading role, as Brier, an aspiring New York model who made a move to Los Angeles to launch an acting career, in Meiert Avis' drama comedy Undiscovered (2005). Unfortunately, the film, which also stars Steven Strait, Ashlee Simpson, Shannyn Sossamon and Carrie Fisher, was released to a largely negative reception. However, James really enjoyed it as she said: “It was really fun. It was cool. We all come… Well, Steven (Strait) and I actually like have more of a similar background. We actually lived like a block and a half away from each other in New York. It was just so weird we didn’t know each other for like five and a half years, but we kind of have a similar (background). We studied theater and then have a couple things under our belt.
And then Kip (Pardue’s) worked a lot and he’s really good. Ashlee (Simpson’s) like this teen sensation, which is really weird to be a part of…so that was really bizarre. And it was really cool working with Carrie Fisher because (she’s) Princess Leia. That’s awesome, so it was really fun.”
The following year, James co-starred with Stephanie Szostak, Karl Geary and Jessica Lawson in writer-director Jeff Winner's drama comedy film, Satellite, and with Matt Long, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Luke Mably in Matthew Cole Weiss' drama/thriller, Deceit. Recently, in March 2007, she could be seen supporting Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. in David Fincher's crime drama thriller film based on the Robert Graysmith books about the real life of notorious serial killer, Zodiac.
“I just got a David Fincher film yesterday that I’m really excited. I’m so excited. I get hacked, which is really exciting. The coolest thing is that I have to go get a full body cast, which is amazing when you work with the special effects people... I play Celia Shepard, one of the girls who gets murdered. But I’m really excited about the whole thing.” Pell James (on Zodiac (2007)).
James will soon wrap Kyle Newman's upcoming adventure drama/comedy film set in 1999, Fanboys, alongside Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel and Kristen Bell. She is also set to star opposite Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond in Jennifer Lynch's independent supernatural thriller, Surveillance.