Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lunchbox Heroes: Lili Taylor

Before Say Anything, a very young Lili Taylor had a memorable three-line scene with Kevin Bacon at the fertility clinic in She’s Having A Baby (“I’m sorry. Are you sure there’s any in here?”). Her career launching pad was the chick flick, Mystic Pizza, the leading role debut film of both Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish, as well. But it was Say Anything and her tortured relationship with Joe that helped define the Lili Taylor we know.

If you ever have been, you are currently or you will be a love-spurned teenager in the future, Taylor’s performance in Say Anything as Lloyd Dobler’s friend, the love-spurned teenager, Corey Flood is a role to which you can immediately relate. Lloyd said it best when he said to her ex-beau, “Joe, she's written 65 songs about you, and they're all about pain.”

Songs like, “That'll never be me, that'll never be me. That'll never be, never be me. NO! NO, NEVER, NEVER, EVER! And don't you EVER THINK IT!” say all there is to say.

Taylor has made a career of playing women spurned in one fashion or another. In the outstanding 1991 indie, Dogfight, Taylor’s Rose Fenny is picked up by River Phoenix’s Eddie Birdlace, a young marine about to ship out. His buddies have decided to throw a “dogfight” party in which the participants try to invite the ugliest girl. Taylor is so incredibly vulnerable as Rose, shattered at the discovery of Eddie’s true intentions. In I Shot Andy Warhol, she takes being slighted to the ‘nth degree, portraying Valerie Solanas, the artworld joke who attempted an assassination of the world’s most pop Pop Artist.

Hailed as an indie princess, Taylor has starred in no less than thirty features. The best of these include Robert Altman’s Short Cuts and Pret-A-Porter, Mrs. Parker And The Vicious Circle, The Impostors, Pecker, illtown and Kicked In The Head. Taylor has appeared in several mainstream films as well, but surprisingly, she didn’t crack into big budget leading roles until her recent turn as an insomniac in The Haunting. Of course, The Haunting is not the barometer by which to measure Lili Taylor. However, her work in other blockbusters such as Born On The Fourth Of July and Ransom is outstanding.

Not the Plain Jane she is made out to be in Dogfight and countless other films, Taylor is, in fact, strikingly attractive. Her approach to acting is naturalistic. She never pushes her performance, never forces a joke. And unlike many actors known for their powerful “straight” performances, Taylor has fantastic comic timing.

Give this woman a lunchbox… and a boyfriend.

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