With three major studios calling Queens their home, it’s only natural that some of the movie industry’s greatest actors hail from the World’s Borough. In fact, four of the thespians that follow won the coveted Academy Award for their efforts!
5. Mercedes Ruehl—This Jackson Heights native started her acting career out west at the Denver Center Theatre Company. She returned to the Big Apple to star in the Broadway hit, “I’m Not Rappaport.” More work on the Great White Way and the Big Screen followed, culminating in a spectacular 1991, in which she won both an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in “The Fisher King” and a Tony for Best Actress in Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers.”
4. Lucy Liu—Also born in Jackson Heights, Liu gained notoriety as the vicious, ill-mannered Ling Woo in the popular TV series, “Alley McBeal” for 4 seasons (1998-2002), before hitting the big screen. Her movie roles include one of the titular angels in both “Charley’s Angels” films; assassin O-Ren Ishii in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill I” and “II”; and the voice of Viper in the “Kung Fu Panda” franchise. She’s currently going through a small-screen resurgence as Dr. Joan Watson on the hit television series, “Elementary.”
3. Adrien Brody—As a child, this Woodhaven native performed magic shows at children’s birthday parties. Brody’s film break came in the underwhelming 1996 Mickey Rourke, Tupac Shakur movie, “Bullet.” Critically-acclaimed stints in Terrence Malick’s “A Thin Red Line” and Spike Lee’s “Summer of Sam” followed before his Oscar-winning role in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” in 2002.
2. Christopher Walken—This Astoria-born thespian with a rich, diverse career spanning more than 100 film and TV roles, originally trained as a musical theater dancer. Like many actors before him, he began his career in soap operas, originating the role of Michael Bauer in “The Guiding Light” in 1963. His movie debut came in Sidney Lumet’s “The Anderson Tapes” in 1971. More movie work followed, including a memorable turn as Diane Keaton’s homicidal brother in “Annie Hall,” before his Academy-Award Winning role in “The Deer Hunter” in 1978. Throughout the ensuing years, Walken has steadily worked, playing a variety of roles to some of filmdom’s greatest directors, such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton
1. Susan Sarandon: Born in Jackson Heights, Sarandon made her film debut in a little-known 1970 dramatic movie, entitled “Joe,” which starred Peter Boyle. A starring role in the short-lived forgettable soap opera “A World Apart (1970-1971)” followed, before she hit Broadway. Several roles in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions ensued, until Sarandon got her big break in the 1975 cult classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Sarandon soon garnered a reputation as an excellent actress, garnering 4 Academy-Award in “Atlantic City (1980)”, “Thelma and Louise (1991)”, “Lorenzo’s Oil (1992)” and “The Client (1994)” before winning the coveted Oscar for playing a nun in “Dead Man Walking (1995).”
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