Sherilyn Fenn
Sherilyn Fenn
Sherilyn Fenn
Detroit, Michigan
Birth date
February 1, 1965 (1965-02-01) (age 53)
Actress, filmmaker
Active Years
1984 – present
Notable Roles
Audrey Horne (Twin Peaks - TV)

Sherilyn Fenn (born Sheryl Ann Fenn on February 1, 1965 in Detroit, Michigan) is an Emmy- and Golden Globe award-nominated American actress and filmmaker, best known for playing Audrey Horne on the cult TV series Twin Peaks, for her roles in Ruby, Of Mice and Men, Boxing Helena and Rude Awakening, and for portraying actress Elizabeth Taylor in the miniseries Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story.

Early lifeEdit

Born Sheryl Fenn into a family of musicians of Italian and Hungarian descent on her mother's side and of Irish and French descent on her father's, Sherilyn traveled a lot with her mother and two older brothers before the family settled in Los Angeles when she was 17. Fenn, who says herself she's demure didn't want to start with a new school again, and soon enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.


The sultry and versatile Sherilyn Fenn began her career with a number of B-movies including The Wild Life (1984, opposite Chris Penn), cult teen-comedy Just One of the Guys (1985, in which she tries to seduce a teenage girl disguised as a boy, played by Joyce Hyser) and teen-fantasy movie The Wraith (1986, opposite Charlie Sheen). She landed her first starring role, as an engaged heiress to an old Southern family experiencing her sexual awakening in Zalman King's erotic drama film Two Moon Junction (1988).

Fenn won her most outstanding role and made an indelible impression on the public when she was cast by David Lynch and Mark Frost as the tantalizing Audrey Horne, the high-school femme fatale from the critically acclaimed TV series Twin Peaks. The series ran from 1990 to 1991, and the character of Audrey was one of the most popular with fans, in particular for her unrequited love for FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) and her style from the '50s (with her saddle shoes, plaid skirts and tight sweaters). Sherilyn hit cult status with a scene in which Lynch filmed her dancing on Angelo Badalamenti's music and with another memorable scene in which her character knotted a cherry stem in her mouth. Fenn enjoyed a lot portraying Audrey : "Audrey’s been great for me. She has brought out a side of me that’s more mischievous and fun that I had suppressed, trying to be an adult. She has made it OK to use the power one has as a woman to be manipulative at times, to be precocious. She goes after what she wants vehemently and she takes it. I think that’s really admirable. I love that about her."

Shortly after shooting Twin Peaks' pilot episode, David Lynch gave her a small but impressive part in Wild at Heart, as a girl injured in a car wreck, obsessed by the contents of her purse, opposite Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, which won the Golden Palm Award at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival. David Lynch, who once described Sherilyn Fenn as "five feet of heaven in a ponytail", and said that she makes him think of a porcelain doll, said about her: "She's a mysterious girl and I think that actresses like her who have a mystery - where there's something hiding beneath the surface - are the really interesting ones."

After two nominations (Emmy and Golden Globe) and covers for Rolling Stone and Playboy magazines, Fenn was propelled to stardom and became a major sex symbol. She was chosen as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World", was named one of the "10 Most Beautiful Women in the World" by Us magazine, and one of the "100 Sexiest Women in the World" by FHM magazine. Her classic looks led her to be compared to the ones like Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner.

Fenn has had an eclectic career with a significant body of work following Twin Peaks. She chose to focus on widening her range of roles and was determined to avoid typecasting. She turned down the Audrey Horne spin-off series that was offered to her, and unlike most of the cast, chose not to return for the 1992 prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, as she was then shooting Of Mice and Men. Fenn took on roles that pushed the envelope and she's become an outspoken critic of the Hollywood machine.

She proved her mettle as an actress with varied roles in Diary of a Hitman (1992, directed by her acting coach Roy London, in which she plays a vulnerable mother who confronts hitman Forest Whitaker), John Mackenzie’s Ruby (1992, a semi-historical biopic about Jack Ruby - portrayed by Danny Aiello - in which she plays the part of a fictional Marilyn Monroe look-alike stripper, who is a composite of some of the women around John Kennedy and Jack Ruby), Three of Hearts (1993, as Kelly Lynch and William Baldwin's love interest) and Carl Reiner’s 1940s detective parody Fatal Instinct (1993, as Armand Assante's lovesick secretary and Sean Young and Kate Nelligan’s rival).

A highlight of Fenn's film career is Gary Sinise's 1992 film adaptation of Of Mice and Men, in which she brought nuance to the role of a seductive and lonely country wife, desperately in need to talk to somebody, opposite Sinise and John Malkovich.

In 1993, Fenn teamed up with David Lynch's daughter Jennifer Chambers Lynch and starred in her directorial debut Boxing Helena, in which she played a haughty seductress put in a box after her limbs were amputated by love-obsessed surgeon Julian Sands in an effort to possess her.

Another notable performance was when Fenn portrayed legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor in NBC's 1995 miniseries Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story, during the shooting of which she fought to keep integrity in the script, in order to respectfully and accurately portray Taylor.

She went on to star in independent films that have been well received on the festival circuit like Jon Harmon Feldman’s Lovelife (1996, along with Bruce Davison, Jon Tenney, Carla Gugino and Saffron Burrows; as a low self-esteemed waitress who has to rebuild her life), romantic comedy Just Write (1997, as the dream actress of Hollywood tour bus driver Jeremy Piven, who mistakes him for a famous screenwriter) and Adrian Pasdar’s neo-noir directorial debut Cement (1999), a contemporary re-telling of Othello, in which she played a tempting but imprudent femme fatale, alongside Chris Penn, Jeffrey Wright and Henry Czerny.

Feeling more and more uninspired by Hollywood films, she starred in the 1998 British psychological drama and huis-clos Darkness Falls opposite Ray Winstone and contemplated starting a European career.

She eventually decided to return to the United-States and gained newfound enthusiasm with the lead role in Showtime's sitcom Rude Awakening as Billie Frank, an alcoholic ex-soap actress who struggles with her self-destructive habits. Based upon creator/executive producer Claudia Lonow's experience, the series ran from 1998 to 2001 and co-starred Lynn Redgrave, Jonathan Penner and Mario Van Peebles.

Following Rude Awakening, Fenn's film and television credits have included Showtime's family comedy Off Season (2001, directed by Bruce Davison; as a singer who takes care of her orphaned nephew), Matthew Ryan Hoge's The United States of Leland (2003, as a woman who represents happiness and joie de vivre to Ryan Gosling), Showtime's Cavedweller (2004, directed by Lisa Cholodenko), Geretta Geretta's Whitepaddy (2006, opposite Lisa Bonet and Hill Harper, as a woman who struggles with her dysfunctional family after she reluctantly returned home and tries to fit in with her new neighborhood that has become predominantly black), and Emily Skopov's Novel Romance (2006, as a pregnancy shop owner, opposite Traci Lords and Paul Johansson).

Fenn has appeared along with Rob Estes and Milo Ventimiglia in a 2003 episode of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls, which was the pilot for a California-set spin-off, eventually dropped by the network. Sherman-Palladino brought her back in the series with a different part as Scott Patterson’s ex-girlfriend and protective mother to his daughter (2006–2007). Fenn had previously had recurring parts on Dawson's Creek, (2002, as Joshua Jackson’s seductive boss) and Boston Public (2003–2004, as a porn star turned tutor). Other notable guest appearances have included 21 Jump Street (opposite her then-fiancé Johnny Depp), Friends (1997, as Matthew Perry's wooden-legged girlfriend), The Outer Limits (2001, as a duplicated scientist), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2002, as a manipulative actress), and The 4400 (2005, as Jean DeLynn Baker, a 4400 who has the ability to grow deadly toxin-emitting spores on her hands).

Fenn's interest in directing and children led her to step behind the camera to direct in 2006 a documentary film about child enrichment program CosmiKids. She subsequently joined its executive team as executive director of the film and television division.

Personal lifeEdit

Fenn lives in Los Angeles, California. She practices kundalini yoga.

Fenn dated Prince and photographer Barry Hollywood.

Sherilyn Fenn was engaged to actor Johnny Depp, whom she refers to as her first true love. Depp and Fenn met on the set of the 1985 short film Dummies. Dating for three and a half years, Sherilyn Fenn and Johny Depp subsequently got engaged. He later signed a contract to become a series regular on 21 Jump Street, which went into production in Vancouver. In pursuit of their different careers in Los Angeles and Vancouver, the two parted ways.

In 1994, Fenn married guitarist/songwriter Toulouse Holliday, whom she met on the set of Three of Hearts, and bore a son, Myles, in late 1993. The marriage came to an end in 1997.

Her second son Christian, with boyfriend Dylan Stewart, was born in August 2007.

External linksEdit