Mary Elizabeth Winstead (born November 28, 1984) is a SAG Award- and Young Artist Award-nominated American actress.She has been called a scream queen, à la Jamie Lee Curtis, because of her roles in such horror films as Final Destination 3, Death Proof, and Black Christmas, but has branched out into other genres, including comedy (Sky High), drama (Bobby) and action (Live Free or Die Hard).
Winstead was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the daughter of Betty Lou (née Knight) and James Ronald Winstead. When she was five, her family moved to Sandy, Utah, a Salt Lake City suburb. Her interest in performing art also began to emerge with interests in ballet and acting. As a child, Winstead appeared in the Mountain West Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker. Hoping to become a ballerina, at the age of eleven, she received the opportunity to study dance in a summer program of the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. There, she studied ballet and jazz dance, but decided to also study acting. Winstead ended up appearing on Broadway during Donny Osmond’s successful run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She was also a member of the International Children’s Choir during her youth and honed her skills performing at her church.
She began her acting career in the late 1990s, guest starring in episodes of the CBS dramas Touched by an Angel and Promised Land, before being cast as Jessica Bennett in the NBC soap opera Passions, a role she played from 1999 to 2000. She subsequently appeared in the short-lived CBS drama series Wolf Lake (2001-2002), and in the made-for-television film Monster Island (2002).
Trying her hand at comedy, she went the independent film route as the Jewish daughter of a large, zany family in the indie feature Checking Out, but her screen time fared better in the more mainstream Walt Disney Pictures confection Sky High, which was both financially and critically successful. She starred as Gwen Grayson, the in-disguise alter ego of the supervillain Royal Pain.
After the exposure Sky High provided, 2006 saw her forge a professional relationship with the creative team of James Wong and Glen Morgan, formerly best known for their memorable contributions to The X-Files. She and her co-star, Ryan Merriman, landed in the path of the grim reaper’s master plan in Final Destination 3. She had failed to land a part in the second film in the trilogy, but found her place in the third instalment, which to this day is the most successful of the trilogy. Morgan and Wong wanted to collaborate with her again and convinced her to appear in their sorority slasher Black Christmas. The film, however, failed with critics and viewers. One day, she inadvertently received a chance to lampoon horror scream queens when The Tonight Show host Jay Leno, unaware of who she was, knocked on her front door and included her in a comedy segment spoofing horror movies.
The same year, she appeared in Emilio Estevez’s Bobby, a valentine to the politics and morals of Robert F. Kennedy, which drew moderate critical attention, and became a minor box office success. The film’s cast included Laurence Fishburne, Anthony Hopkins, Ashton Kutcher, William H. Macy, Demi Moore, and Sharon Stone, but most of her scenes were with Shia LaBeouf and Brian Geraghty. She and her co-stars were nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture.
In 2007, she appeared in a pair of high-profile event films. Quentin Tarantino cast her as a well-intentioned but vapid and naïve actress in his high-speed segment of Grindhouse titled Death Proof, his half of a double-billed feature. The film failed to produce ticket sales, but drew critical acclaim. The same summer, hot off the heels of its release, Winstead received another shot at action as Lucy McClane in Live Free or Die Hard alongside Bruce Willis. The film earned over $130 million domestically and drew excellent reviews, making it the highest grossing film that features Mary Elizabeth.
She has recently screen tested for the role of Wonder Woman in the film adaption of Justice League.
She is due to star in Make it Happen, a dance film to be shot in and around Chicago and Winnipeg. It was also announced on May 16, 2008, that Winstead would co-star opposite Michael Cera in forthcoming comic-book adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Filming is due to start in the fall.
|2005||“Checking Out”, “Sky High”, “The Ring Two”|
|2006||“Black Christmas”, “Bobby”, “Final Destination 3″|
|2007||“Live Free or Die Hard”, “Grindhouse: Death Proof”, “Factory Girl”|
|2008||“Make It Happen”|
|2009||“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”|
Mary Elizabeth Winstead Interview
Death Proof could be Tarantino’s most violent film to date. How do you fit in?
I play Lee, an actress who’s out partying with some badass girls. We’re stalked by Stuntman Mike, who stages car crashes where all these girls are murdered. Every frame is pure heaven.
The cheerleader outfit you wear is pure heaven, too.
The uniform is yellow with black trim—an homage to Kill Bill. I was in that uniform for weeks. Wearing a short skirt is nerve-racking. When I sat down, it rode up. In one scene I get out of the car and the skirt’s at my waist. I’d be walking around in tiny white panties without realizing it.
Isn’t that how everyone dresses in L.A. anyway?
Well, I wear underwear. L.A. kids freak me out. Clubbing is fun every now and then, but I can’t understand people who go out every night to get their pictures taken. When I was 18, I went to clubs and did a lot of drinking for about a month. I got over it. Now it’s about ordering pizza at home.
You’re not one of those dressing-on-the-side girls?
I’m from North Carolina, where it’s all about greasy, fatty foods. I like having curves. It’s weird seeing girls who look like beanpoles. The more famous girls get, the smaller they get.
Besides your curves, what makes you feel sexy?
High heels, even though I’m over 5′8". When I go on auditions my agent tells me to wear flats because most male actors are like, 5′5". But I’m like, “Screw it.”
Did high heels help you snag your part in Death Proof?
We actually had to audition in cheerleading uniforms at Quentin’s house…
Did you guys party a lot?
There were lots of margaritas and a lot of staying out until 5 A.M. Quentin’s fun to be around, and when he gets a few drinks in him, it’s Quentin magnified. On weekends it was a free-for-all.
You also just wrapped Live Free or Die Hard with Bruce Willis. What’s next?
I could work for the sake of working, but I’d hate to go from Grindhouse to some straight-to-video high school movie. I feel so far beyond having a backpack and going to my locker
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