An Actress as Chameleon (But Never in the Girlfriend’s Skin)

Jennifer Jason Leigh, NYC, 3/9/01

There’s tension in the Therrian’s perfect Hollywood Hills Neutra house (please, let that real estate be mine in my next life). Sally (Jennifer Jason Leigh), an actress, is futilely fighting age-induced obsolescence, as Joe (Alan Cumming), her novelist husband, is enthusiastically embracing his expanding career (he’s set to direct his first film, adapting his latest book). And then their friends, with their issues, large and larger, arrive to celebrate the couple’s sixth anniversary.

“The Anniversary Party” (2001), a landmark independent film which Leigh co-directed and co-wrote with Alan Cumming, is a highlight of Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn’s series, “Jennifer Jason Leigh, Part One.” Also included is a selection of the great actress’s films which followed her breakout, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982), through 2001: “Delores Claiborne,” “Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle,” “Single White Female,” “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” “The Hudsucker Proxy” and “Existenz.”

Unlike Sally, enraged that her husband, with the power to jolt her career, has given his film’s lead role to her rival, Leigh is thriving in her work. At least six projects are set for release in 2017, including playing Lady Bird to Woody Harrelson’s LBJ, an appearance in the new “Twin Peaks,” and co-starring with Robert Pattison in the Safdie Brothers’ latest.

“Jennifer Jason Leigh, Part One” will open today at Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn and runs through Monday, May 8. “The Anniversary Party” screens on Wednesday, April 19.

“The Anniversary Party” was groundbreaking and exactly the type of film lauded and supported by IFC Rant. My cover/feature shoot with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming was so much fun, and frictionless–except for the stylist’s insistence (until I intervened) on a  strange bit of diaphanous red fabric, supposedly a blouse.

Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, NYC, 3/9/01

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