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Natasha Lyonne
American actress

Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress
Is Actor Film actor Television actor Voice actor Television presenter
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 4 April 1979, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Age 43 years
Star sign Aries
Stats
Height: 1.6002 m
Education
Ramaz School
New York University Tisch School of the Arts
The details

Biography

Natasha Lyonne (born April 4, 1979), is an American actress, director, writer, and producer. She is best known for her role as Jessica in the American Pie series and her appearances in the films Everyone Says I Love You, Slums of Beverly Hills, But I'm a Cheerleader, and Blade: Trinity.

She also played Nicky Nichols in the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), for which she received a nomination for the 2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. She portrayed Nadia Vulvokov in the Netflix comedy-drama series Russian Doll (2019–present), which she also co-created, executive produces, writes, and directs. For Russian Doll, she received nominations for three Primetime Emmy Awards.

Early life

Natasha Lyonne was born as Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein on April 4, 1979, in New York City, the daughter of Ivette (née Buchinger) and Aaron Braunstein, a boxing promoter, race car driver, and radio host, who was distantly related to cartoonist Al Jaffee.

Lyonne's parents were both from Orthodox Jewish families, and she herself was raised Orthodox. Her mother was born in Paris, France, to Hungarian Jewish parents who were Holocaust survivors. Lyonne sometimes darkly jokes that her family consists of "my father's side, Flatbush, and my mother's side, Auschwitz." Her grandmother Ella came from a large family, but only she and her two sisters and two brothers survived, which Lyonne credits to their blonde hair and blue eyes. Lyonne's grandfather, Morris Buchinger, operated a watch company in Los Angeles. During the war, he hid in Budapest as a non-Jew working in a leather factory.

Lyonne spent the first eight years of her life living in Great Neck, New York. Then she and her parents moved to Israel, where Lyonne spent a year and a half. Her parents divorced, and Lyonne and her older brother Adam returned to America with their mother. After this move back to New York City, Lyonne attended Ramaz School, also known as The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Upper School of Ramaz, a private Jewish school, where Lyonne said she was a scholarship kid who took honors Talmud classes and read Aramaic. She was expelled for selling marijuana at school. Lyonne grew up on the Upper East Side, where she felt she was an outcast. Her mother then moved their family to Miami, where Lyonne graduated from Miami Country Day School. Lyonne was estranged from her father, who lived on the Upper West Side until his death in October 2014 and in 2013 was a Republican candidate for City Council for the sixth District of Manhattan. Lyonne has said she is not close with her mother and has essentially lived independently of her family since age 16.

Career

As a young child, Lyonne was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency. At the age of six, she was cast as Opal on Pee-wee's Playhouse, followed by film appearances in Heartburn, A Man Called Sarge, and Dennis the Menace. On working as a very young child actor, Lyonne said: "I didn't have the best parents. I don't think they are bad people. Even if they were ready to have children, it is kind of a wacky idea to put your child in business at six years old."

Theater

Lyonne made her New York stage debut in the award-winning New Group production of Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years. Lyonne was in the original cast of the award-winning Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a play written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman. She received positive reviews for her performance in Kim Rosenstock's comedy, Tigers Be Still at the Roundabout Theatre Company: "a thorough delight in the flat-out funniest role, the grief-crazed Grace, so deeply immersed in self-pity that she has cast aside any attempts at decorum."

In 2011, Lyonne was in Tommy Nohilly's Blood From a Stone, from the New Group. Lyonne participated in New Group's benefit performance of Women Behind Bars in 2012.

On working in the theater: "There's something about theater that squashes the self-critical voices because you have to be in the moment. I'm glad that I didn’t do this before I was ready, before I was capable of showing up every day. That is not a skill set I had before."

Film

Lyonne at a screening of The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle

At age 16, Lyonne was cast in the Woody Allen-directed Everyone Says I Love You (1996). This led to appearances in a variety of films over the next 10 years, including starring roles in the independent features Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), for which she received two Teen Choice Award nominations, and But I'm a Cheerleader (1999). During this time, she appeared as Jessica in the highly successful teen comedy American Pie (1999), reprising the role in two of its sequels. Lyonne's other films during this period included Detroit Rock City, Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (both 1999), Scary Movie 2, The Grey Zone, Kate & Leopold (all 2001), Party Monster (2003), and Blade: Trinity (2004).

Lyonne's subsequent film appearances include All About Evil (2010), 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), Girl Most Likely, Loitering with Intent, Sleeping with Other People, Hello, My Name Is Doris, Addicted to Fresno, #Horror, Yoga Hosers, Antibirth, The Intervention, and Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie.

In 2019, she appeared in Shia LaBeouf's autobiographical film Honey Boy.

Television

Lyonne has made guest appearances on the series Grounded for Life, Weeds, New Girl, Will & Grace, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Since 2013 she has appeared as Nicky Nichols in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The role is Lyonne's first television job as a series regular. She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, and has twice been awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with her co-stars.

In 2014 Lyonne was cast in Amy Poehler's NBC comedy pilot Old Soul, directed by David Wain. In 2016 she began voicing the character Smoky Quartz on the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. She has also appeared as various characters on IFC's sketch comedy series Portlandia. In 2018 she voiced the character Gaz Digzy on Adult Swim's comedy series Ballmastrz: 9009. She has voiced characters on The Simpsons and Netflix's Big Mouth.

Her performance in the 2019 Netflix series Russian Doll has been praised as "astonishing". Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone called it "brilliant". The series as a whole received 13 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Lyonne's performance as Nadia Vulvokov, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

Directing and producing

In 2017, Lyonne was approached by Kenzo's creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon to direct the 5th installment in their short film series. For this, her directorial debut, she began writing a script with Maya Rudolph in mind to star. The surrealist short film was titled Cabiria, Charity, Chastity and starred Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, Leslie Odom Jr. and Macaulay Culkin.

In September 2017, Lyonne's project Russian Doll was given an 8-episode straight to series order by Netflix. The comedy, co-created and executive produced by Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, premiered on February 1, 2019. Lyonne has multiple roles in the series. She is credited as the lead actress and is one of the executive producers of the series with directorial and writing credits.

In 2018 Lyonne co-founded the production company Animal Pictures with Maya Rudolph.

Lyonne directed an episode of Orange Is the New Black for its seventh and final season, as an episode of Hulu's Shrill, "WAHAM". and an episode of High Fidelity titled "Weird...But Warm."

Personal life

Lyonne lives in New York City.

During the early 2000s, Lyonne experienced legal problems and was arrested on a couple of occasions for driving under the influence of alcohol and for incidents involving her neighbors. In 2005, she was evicted by her landlord, actor Michael Rapaport, following complaints by other tenants about her behavior.

In 2005, Lyonne was admitted to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan under a pseudonym, suffering from hepatitis C, a heart infection, and a collapsed lung; she was also undergoing methadone treatment. In January 2006, another arrest warrant was issued for her after she missed a court hearing relating to her prior problems. Her lawyer said an emergency had arisen, but did not give details. Later that year, Lyonne was admitted to the Caron Foundation, a drug and alcohol treatment center, and finally appeared in court. A judge sentenced her to conditional discharge.

Lyonne underwent open heart surgery to correct damage caused by her heart infection. She quickly recovered from the surgery, and discussed her past health problems on The Rosie Show in March 2012.

She has been in a relationship with actor/comedian Fred Armisen since 2014.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes 
1986 Heartburn Rachel's Niece Uncredited 
1989 April Fool Natasha  
1990 A Man Called Sarge Arab Girl  
1993 Dennis the Menace Polly  
1996 Everyone Says I Love You Djuna "DJ" Berlin  
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Vivian Abromowitz  
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Shelly Krippendorf  
1998 Modern Vampires Rachel  
1999 American Pie Jessica  
1999 Detroit Rock City Christine Sixteen  
1999 Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby Crystal "White Girl" Van Meuther Also associate producer 
1999 But I'm a Cheerleader Megan Bloomfield  
1999 The Auteur Theory Rosemary Olson  
2001 Plan B Kaye  
2001 Fast Sofa Tamara Jenson  
2001 Scary Movie 2 Megan Voorhees  
2001 American Pie 2 Jessica  
2001 The Grey Zone Rosa  
2001 Kate & Leopold Darci  
2002 Comic Book Villains Judy Link  
2002 Zig Zag Jenna the Working Girl  
2002 Night at the Golden Eagle Amber  
2003 Die, Mommie, Die! Edith Sussman  
2003 Party Monster Brooke  
2004 America Brown Vera  
2004 Madhouse Alice  
2004 Blade: Trinity Sommerfield  
2005 Robots Loretta Geargrinder (voice)  
2005 My Suicidal Sweetheart Grace  
2008 Tricks of a Woman Sally  
2009 The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle Tracy  
2009 Jelly Mona Hammel  
2009 Goyband Fani  
2009 Running Away with Blackie Motel Clerk Short film 
2009 Outrage: Born in Terror Molly  
2009 Heterosexuals Ellia  
2010 All About Evil Deborah Tennis  
2011 4:44 Last Day on Earth Tina  
2011 Night Club Mrs. Keaton  
2012 American Reunion Jessica  
2013 7E Yael  
2013 He's Way More Famous Than You Herself  
2013 The Rambler Cheryl  
2013 G.B.F. Ms. Hogel  
2013 Girl Most Likely Allyson  
2013 Clutter Lisa Bradford  
2014 Loitering with Intent Kaplan  
2015 Addicted to Fresno Martha Jackson  
2015 Sleeping with Other People Kara  
2015 Hello, My Name Is Doris Sally  
2015 Bloomin Mud Shuffle Jock  
2015 #Horror Emma  
2016 Yoga Hosers Tabitha Collette  
2016 The Intervention Sarah  
2016 Darby Forever The Baddest Girl Short film 
2016 Antibirth Lou Also producer 
2016 Adam Green's Aladdin Mom  
2016 The Realest Real Herself Short film 
2016 Jack Goes Home Nancy  
2017 Girlfriend's Day Miss Taft  
2017 Handsome Det. Fleur Scozzari  
2017 Cabiria, Charity, Chastity Jules Short film
Also producer, writer, and director 
2018 A Futile and Stupid Gesture Anne Beatts  
2018 Family Juggalette  
2018 Show Dogs Mattie  
2018 Doulo Rena Short film 
2019 Honey Boy Mrs. Lort  
2019 Ad Astra Tanya Pincus  
2019 Uncut Gems Boston Player Personnel (voice)  
2020 Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics Herself  
2020 Irresistible Tina De Tessant  
2021 The United States vs. Billie Holiday Tallulah Bankhead Post-production 

Television

Year Title Role Notes 
1986 Pee-wee's Playhouse Opal 6 episodes 
2000 Will & Grace Gillian Episode: "Girl Trouble" 
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Jeanne Television film 
2001 Night Visions Bethany Daniels Episode: "If a Tree Falls" 
2002 Grounded for Life Gretchen Episode: "Relax!" 
2007 The Knights of Prosperity Female Co-Star Episode: "Operation: Rent Money" 
2009 Loving Leah Esther Television film 
2011 New Girl Gretchen Episode: "Wedding" 
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gia Eskas Episode: "Educated Guess" 
2012 Weeds Tiffani 2 episodes 
2013 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Mrs. Barbato Episode: "Comic Con-Air" 
2013–2019 Orange Is the New Black Nicky Nichols Main role; 81 episodes
Directed episode: "The Hidey Hole" 
2015 Girls Rickey Episode: "Iowa" 
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Katie Episode: "Dax Shepard Wears a Heather Grey Shirt and Black Blazer" 
2015 Sanjay and Craig Chido (voice) Episode: "Bike-o Psycho/Boulder Rollers" 
2015–2016 Inside Amy Schumer Various 2 episodes 
2015–2018 Portlandia Various 5 episodes 
2016 The $100,000 Pyramid Herself Episode: "Natasha Lyonne vs. Terry Crews
2016–2019 Steven Universe Smoky Quartz (voice) 3 episodes 
2016–2019 The Simpsons Sophie (voice) 3 episodes 
2018–present Ballmastrz: 9009 Gaz Digzy (voice) Main role; 20 episodes 
2018 Corporate Gretchen Episode: "Corporate Retreat" 
2018 Animals. VHS Copy of Can't Hardly Wait (voice) Episode: "Stuff" 
2018–2019 Big Mouth Suzette (voice) 3 episodes 
2019–present Russian Doll Nadia Vulvokov Main role; 8 episodes
Also producer, writer, and director 
2019 Documentary Now! Carla Meola Episode: "Long Gone" 
2019 An Emmy for Megan Herself Episode: "New Minimum Length" 
2019 Explained Narrator (voice) Episode: "Pirates" 
2019 Steven Universe Future Smoky Quartz (voice) Episode: "Guidance" 
2019 Cake Gretchen Episode: "Cache Flow" 
2019 John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch Herself Television special 
2020 Shrill None Directed episode: "WAHAM" 
2020 Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens Woman in Hair Salon Episode: "Not Today"
Directed episode: "Paperwork" 
2020 High Fidelity None Directed episode: "Weird... But Warm" 
2020 Crossing Swords Norah (voice) Episode: "Eat Plague Love" 

Music video

Year Song Artist Notes 
2003 "Way Out West" Verbena  
2015 "Lampshades on Fire" Modest Mouse  
2016 "333" Against Me!  

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref. 
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Actress Slums of Beverly Hills Nominated  
Teen Choice Awards Film – Funniest Scene Nominated  
Film – Breakout Performance Nominated 
2000 Young Hollywood Awards Best Ensemble Cast American Pie Won  
2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Orange Is the New Black Nominated  
2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Won  
2017 Won  
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Actress Antibirth Nominated  
2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Orange Is the New Black Nominated  
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Russian Doll Nominated  
Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated  
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated  
Gotham Awards Breakthrough Series – Short Form Nominated  
Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated  
Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy Nominated 
Saturn Awards Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action & Fantasy Series Nominated  
Best Actress in Streaming Presentation Nominated 
TCA Awards Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated  
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated 
Outstanding New Program Won 
Program of the Year Nominated 
2020 Writers Guild of America Awards Comedy Series Nominated  
New Series Nominated 
Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy Nominated  
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form Nominated  
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