'Russian Doll': How Natasha Lyonne rose from the ashes of self-destructive former child star to become a comedic genius
At an age where kids would be having play dates and riding around in their bicycles, Natasha had started her career in acting.
From being a wild child who was raised in an orthodox Jewish family to having grandparents who were Holocaust survivors and living independently since the age of 16, Natasha Lyonne is known for doing things her own way. Though many might already have an idea about who this is about, there are fans out there who may not be familiar with Natasha who is currently making headlines everywhere for her role in Netflix's new forthcoming series 'Russian Doll'. She was previously known for her role in 'Orange Is The New Black.'
At an age where kids would be having play dates and riding around in their bicycles, Natasha had started her career in acting. After being signed by Ford Modeling Agency, at the age of six, she appeared on ' Pee-wee's Playhouse' as Opal. Following that she appeared in films like 'Heartburn', 'A Man Called Sarge', and 'Dennis the Menace'. Talking about being a child actor Natasha in an interview said, "No. 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. I had to become coherent and a businesswoman at six. By 10, I was a jaded professional. By 16, my youth was over and my goose cooked. I don’t think they knew better. It was a decision of my parents built on hopeful ignorance.”
She has moved quite a lot since she was a kid. Though Natasha was good in her acting career, she did not have much luck when it came to academics, despite being a bright student. Studying at a Jewish private school where she got in through a scholarship and took honors classes, she was expelled for selling marijuana. Natasha did no graduate high school either because she had left to take part in a film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts before her senior year. Natasha, however, couldn't complete the program because she couldn't pay the tuition fee.
After not being close with either her mother or father, Natasha started to live her own life from the age of 16. And that is when she played in a role in 'Everyone Says I Love You' that was directed by Woody Allen. She used the money from this paycheck to buy herself a small apartment near Gramercy Park. From then her career skyrocketed. She also received two Teen Choice Award nominations for 'Slums of Beverly Hills.' Though many might not remember she also played the character of Jessica in 'American Pie' that released in 1999. And appeared twice again in its sequels.
Natasha also had some downs in her life, which took place in the early 2000s. She went through legal issues and she was also arrested for DUI. Later in 2005, Natasha was evicted from her house by her landlord following complaints from her neighbors due to her behavior. In that very year, she was admitted to the hospital because she was suffering from hepatitis C, a heart infection, and a collapsed lung. She was admitted to the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan under a pseudonym. At the very same time, Natasha was also undergoing methadone treatment. She has had health issues post this as well and also underwent open heart surgery.
Turns out Natasha did not put all her eggs in one basket, she found herself performing equally good in theater as well. She made her theater debut with the award-winning play 'Two Thousand Years.' Following which she also acted in Kim Rosenstock's comedy, 'Tigers Be Still' for which she received positive reviews. In 2012 she also acted in 'Women Behind Bars' . Talking about her career in theater Natasha said, "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."
After acting in movies and theater, Natasha made it to the small screens. She started by making guest appearances in 'Weeds', 'New Girl', 'Will & Grace', and 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'. In 2013 she became a household name as she played Nicky Nichols on Netflix's 'Orange Is the New Black.' This was Natasha's first role as a series regular. For this role, she has received many nominations and won awards as well. She was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014. Natasha along with her co-stars has also been awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series twice. Taking her association with the series further, Natasha will also be directing the final season of OITNB.
Before taking up the role as Nadia in Amy Poehler's 'Russian Doll' that is set to air on Netflix on February 1, Natasha was cast in Amy Poehler's NBC comedy pilot 'Old Soul'. She has also given her voice for various cartoon characters. Through all the bad press she had received for her DUI and arrest, she managed to make it to the top. And after receiving positive reviews for her previous shows, we cannot wait to see what happens when 'Russian Doll' premieres.