Who is Natasha Lyonne?
Many people discounted Natasha Lyonne in Hollywood. They gave up on her years ago amid her drug addiction and issues with law enforcement. But those people didn’t understand just how determined Natasha Lyonne can be. She is one of the best comeback stories in Hollywood because it is real. For Natasha Lyonne drugs to recovery was a struggle, but today she works as a busy actress in Hollywood in both movies and tv shows.
To touch base on her early life Natasha Lyonne was born in 1979 in New York City. She was a child actress by the time she was six years old. She started as a child model with the Ford agency, and by six years old, she had her first acting job playing the character Opal on Pee-wee’s Playhouse. She played Opal from 1990 and in 2006 for Pee-Wee Playhouse Movie.
How did Natasha Lyonne Get Famous?
When Natasha Lyonne was 16, she got her first movie role as Woody Allen’s daughter in his movie; Everyone Says I Love You. She went onto stardom in her first knock out the role in 1998’s Slums of Beverly Hills when she played a character named, Vivian Abramowitz.
Natasha’s life starts to get fuzzy around this time. What people don’t realize is after 1999, Natasha Lyonne went on to act in many movies, although almost all of them were forgettable. But she was acting. In fact, from 1999 until 2007, she made over 20 movies trying to keep her acting skills sharp. Some of Natasha Lyonne films include:
- Detroit Rock City (Movie) Christine 1999
- American Pie (Movie) Jessica 1999
- But I’m A Cheerleader (Movie) Megan 2000
- American Pie 2 (Movie) Jessica 2001
- Scary Movie 2 (Movie) Megan 2001
- Kate & Leopold (Movie) Darci 2001
- Fast Sofa (Movie) Tamara 2001
- Night at The Golden Eagle (Movie) Amber 2002
- The Grey Zone (Movie) Rosa 2002
- Comic Book Villains (Movie) Judy Link 2002
- Die Mommie Die! (Movie) Edith Sussman 2003
- Party Monster (Movie) Brooke 2003
- Blade: Trinity (Movie) Sommerfield 2004
- Robots (Movie) Loretta Geargrinder 2005
Many of the movies you may not have heard of, but she was still trying to practice her acting craft. During this time for Natasha Lyonne drugs became a large part of her life. However, she soon found out the two things don’t mix well together.
Natasha Lyonne in American Pie
Before getting hooked on drugs, Natasha starred in a movie that created her acting career. Natasha Lyonne is the girl who played Jessica on American Pie. Her role as Jessica in American Pie was in 1999. As Natasha was getting noticed in Hollywood, she was also getting kicked out of her high school for selling pot. “I was the weird kid with the weird hair,” she says. As her career began to take off, she seemed to lose sight of herself and fall deeper into drug addiction.
Natasha Lyonne Talks Addiction
Somewhere in between her dismal acting parts and drug addiction Natasha decided to move forward. Natasha’s progression forward began by enrolling at NYU to pursue a career in philosophy and film. However, after enrolling she never went to class and pretty much dropped out. She then went back to see what she could do to re-energize her acting career. But by the time her decision was made to move forward with acting, Natasha Lyonne was already addicted to opiates.
For Natasha Lyonne drugs and addiction controlled her life for a while. Her addiction to opiates continued while she acted in movies, dated, and broke up with various male actors. Unfortunately, Natasha thought she was alone in her addiction. She didn’t realize she had joined the other first-time opioid addicts which increased from 628,000 in 1990 to 2.4 million in 2004. But Natasha had still not hit her bottom and continued making destructive decisions. But things started to get a lot worse for her. Turns out Lyonne got arrested for drunk driving in 2001. She was still working as an actress, but she was suffering and inconsistent with her abilities and acting jobs.
When she missed a court hearing dealing with her destruction of property in 2004, she faced severe consequences, including going to jail. Somehow, she stayed her course in recovery from drug addiction. Natasha stayed out of jail by completing court-appointed rehab in 2006. Natasha Lyonne started her long journey of overcoming heroin addiction and into drug recovery one small step at a time.
The first thing Natasha Lyonne realized on her climb up and out of drug addiction was she was only 30 years old. When interviewed about living a hard and fast life all before she was 30, Lyonne agreed. In a Vanity Fair interview, Lyonne reminisces she read many autobiographical novels like, Richard Pryor’s book, JoJo Dancer, Your Life is Calling and can relate to all the hospital bed and death scenes. “Which, for me and my life’s personal experiences with addiction and dancing with death so often, felt very honest to me.”
As someone in active recovery, Natasha Lyonne drugs caused much damage and she started to heal from her addiction. She wrote poetry and told others about her long and arduous story. She often says, “I took it about as far as I could, and I didn’t die, so I decided to live, basically. Obviously, it’s complicated, but it’s also very simple.”
Natasha’s acting jobs started getting further apart. The lack of interest in casting Natasha for acting parts coming up, stemmed from her heroin addiction. Time passed, and along the way, she ended up homeless. One of Natasha’s friends, Michael Rapaport, rented her one of his apartments in NYC. On September 9, 2005, on the Howard Stern show, Michael stated he found out there were some problems at the apartment. He realized shortly after speaking to her on the phone, that something was wrong. So he flew to NYC.
Michael said when he got to his apartment that Natasha was renting, he found feces, dead animals, broken glass, and trash everywhere. Michael went on to say he hadn’t previously been hard with Natasha because they were friends. But Michael did have to evict her. Still, Natasha was special enough to Michael back then, he said he hoped she got through whatever she was going through.
Five months in hospital in 2005
Whatever Natasha was going through wasn’t going to be going away soon. At least her drug addiction wasn’t going to go away anytime soon. In the middle of being homeless, and shooting up heroin, Natasha got sick. By 2005, Natasha had contracted Hepatitis C, had a heart infection, a collapsed lung, and too many track marks to hide.
The bottom was coming up on her fast. Natasha finally hit bottom when she was admitted to the hospital in 2005. First, Natasha sought methadone treatment but was turned away. Natasha ended up in 2005 at New York City’s Beth Israel Hospital for five months in intensive care.
Criminal Charges against Lyonne
While Natasha was at the hospital, she failed to appear for a court case stemming from an arrest from an alleged rampage the previous December. During the rampage, Natasha was heard threatening to molest a neighbor’s dog. Natasha knew that incident alone meant she finally met her bottom. It was going to be a long way up.
Natasha Lyonne is nothing but honest when you read her past interviews. She tries to convey she knows and understands all the legal fallout she endured from her drug addiction. Natasha also understand all the medical consequences she suffered from drug addiction. When she kicked heroin addiction, she was still left with having open-heart surgery to repair all the damage drugs did to her heart and body. When asked about her open-heart surgery, she says she remembers how she had to lay down on the operating table, “Stone-cold sober!”
She realized the surgeons were going to cut her sternum open to try and save her life. It was then she realized she survived dying more times than she can count. Yet, she survived. Now Natasha Lyonne wants to keep a measure of her sanity and participate in life. This may be the first time Natasha is facing life head-on with her full participation.
BFF Chloe Sevigny and Recovery
She tries to surround herself with those she loves and who love her. Many of those people have been her friend through thick and thin like her best friend, Chloë Sevigny. On her way back up in Hollywood, she started taking some small roles in movies and on TV shows. She started down the acting path she knew from long ago and project by project she proved both her beauty, her toughness, and her phenomenal acting skills.
The one thing Natasha never hide was her talent. It never failed her after her drug addiction, heart surgery, or Hepatitis C. Most of Natasha’s talent comes from her innate ability to emote. Alan Arkin recognized Natasha’s talent long ago. Alan Arkin, who played her father in Slums, said back then, “She’s almost like from another time. She was a total natural. No artifice, never worried for a second about what she looked like or how she was going over.” Now that Natasha is on her way up, she wants others to know she has many chapters left in her book of life.
Natasha Lyonne Opens Up
One of the most refreshing things about Natasha Lyonne is her honesty. She doesn’t hide behind an agent or publicist although she could if she wanted to. Natasha answers every question asked, no matter how uncomfortable, with honesty. She speaks about her past addictions, the consequences of the decisions that she made, and her run-ins with the law. She tells others her opiate addiction was just one of her many self-destructive paths. Natasha states, “It definitely felt like I was on a mission, and working was not high on my priority list. I just did not foresee myself being an actress when all was said and done.”
What strikes most people first about Natasha is she doesn’t make excuses about her past. She is open to discussing the hard lessons she had to learn along the way. It is confusing to hear such a deep and tragic story about heroin addiction coming from Natasha Lyonne. It may be due to her tough New York accent coming from such a cherub face. Whatever it is, it grabs your attention. But it also reminds you that heroin users come in every shape, size, and color. Anyone can become addicted to heroin and anyone can learn how to get sober.
It also makes clear, Natasha has what other actresses try to copy. Most are unsuccessful because Natasha’s acting gifts are honest and pure. They come to her naturally. It’s said, once you have acting talent like that, it stays with you your whole life.
Nicky Orange is the New Black
Natasha Lyonne landed her most significant comeback role in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. She plays Nicky Nichols and proved once again; she has the acting talent that many never reach in Hollywood. Natasha wouldn’t call her role as Nicky Nichols on Orange is the New Black her comeback role until her fifth season on the show.
Natasha Lyonne calls Orange is the New Black more than a job. Natasha told IndieWire, “I really grew up there in many ways.” When asked how she felt about the show ending, the actress and director’s first response was to talk about her castmates. “We’re very tight. Not a day goes by where I’m not in touch or FaceTiming, texting, or something with Uzo, Samira, Danielle, Taylor. I’ve spent some of the holidays with Kate Mulgrew. We’re really a pretty tight tribe,” she said.
The Russian Doll Natasha Lyonne
Her next chapter is another Netflix’s series, Russian Doll. Russian Doll is Natasha’s ten- year project. She wrote it, directed it, and brought it to life with the help of two other powerhouses, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. It is Natasha Lyonne who is the star power in the series. It is a series about a young game coder trying to escape living in a ‘birthday party’ every day of her life. If there was ever a role built for Natasha Lyonne, it is Netflix’s Russian Doll.
The role of Nadia Inspired by Natasha Lyonne’s Real Life will make sense if you’ve watched season 1 of Russian doll. Nadia, resembles Lyonne in some ways. Nadia appears to be losing it. In almost every episode she is out of control. Russian Doll is a fast-moving, fast-talking, death-defying sex shock series. It also gives viewers a taste of acting at its highest pinnacle of talent mixed with salty earthiness, just like Russian caviar.
Natasha Lyonne and Fred Armisen
A question often asked is, is Natasha Lyonne in a relationship? Well, the answer to that is yes. Natasha and Fred Armisen are an item even though they keep their relationship low-key and private. Despite any rumors or Hollywood gossip, Lyonne and Armisen share a love life. They went to the 2019 Grammy Awards together held in February. Although they have been together since 2014, the couple rarely shares any information about their private lives. Maybe that’s the way it should be.
Natasha Lyonne Now
It is not hard to see Natasha Lyonne making a success of this quirky, dark comedy. That may be because you can see Natasha within her character, Nadia. Everyone remembers that for Natasha Lyonne drugs and addiction in her history impacted her life greatly. As you watch Russian Doll, know you see a Netflix episode series at its best. The next chapter in Natasha’s life may be the most exciting one.
The excitement about Natasha Lyonne and her performance in Russian Doll stems from knowing you are witnessing great storytelling with compelling and talented acting. The story and series almost seem to represent Natasha’s past and present. The only thing left to see is the successful and rewarding acting life Natasha should have in her future. We should all enjoy seeing this comeback actress in the spotlight.