Born Liliane Rudabet Gloria Elsveta Sobieski on June 10, 1982, Leelee Sobieski has shot to ingénue stardom in the time it takes to say "Helen Hunt's spitting image." The young actress, who does indeed bear a striking resemblance to Hunt, first came to the attention of art house audiences with her role in A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998). Thanks to her participation in two high-profile projects, Deep Impact and Eyes Wide Shut, Sobieski has garnered both widespread recognition and the distinction of being one of the most promising actresses of her generation.
Born and bred in New York City, Sobieski, the eldest of two children, was raised by her father, a French painter, and her mother, a freelance writer. She was "discovered," rather unexpectedly, in her school's cafeteria by Woody Allen's casting director. With the encouragement of her parents, Sobieski began auditioning, trying out at one point for the part that went to Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire. She landed her first screen role in the 1997 Tim Allen comedy Jungle 2 Jungle, and then was cast as Channe in Merchant/Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998). Sobieski drew raves for the depth and intelligence of her performance and was further rewarded with another leading role, that of Joan of Arc in the 1999 TV miniseries Joan of Arc. Sobieski then turned her back on typical ingénue roles with her portrayal of a geek queen in the Drew Barrymore comedy Never Been Kissed. The film's producers had originally wanted Sobieski for the role of the most popular girl in school, but the actress had insisted on that of her antithesis, a choice that reflected her desire to take on more unconventional roles. This choice was made further apparent with her casting in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, in which Sobieski had a brief but memorable appearance as the silent, flirtatious daughter of a costume-shop owner.
In 2000 Sobieski returned to more conventional fare with Here on Earth, a romantic drama in which she starred as a young woman coping with first love and terminal illness. That same year, she could be seen in the teen thriller Squelch and My First Mister, a romantic comedy that featured her as a recent high-school grad who develops a crush on her much older boss (Albert Brooks). Gaining notice for her increasing ability to carry a movie, Sobieski earned her first million-dollar salary that same year for her role in the thriller The Glass House, followed shortly thereafter by another prominent role in the throwback CB thriller Joy Ride. A Golden Globe-nominated performance in the 2001 World War II drama Uprising served well to balance out such lukewarm efforts as the 2001 thriller The Glass House and the 2003 literary adaptation Dangerous Liaisons, and on the heels of a fairly forgettable 2005 Sobieski took a trip to a neo-pagan island where nothing is really as it seems in the Neil LaBute-directed remake The Wicker Man. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi