As a young ingenue poised to be the next Jodie Foster — with roles in Stanley Kubrick and Merchant Ivory films, Golden Globe and Emmy nominations and plenty of media buzz — in 2001, Leelee Sobieski surprisingly put her career on pause.
“I needed that break just to be centered,” says Sobieski about her three year “sabbatical” from Hollywood in which the actress attended Brown University. “I needed to spend time with my friends and be young, and do all those things that you’re supposed to do when you grow up.”
After all, she started working at age 11 when a casting director discovered her in her school cafeteria. But even before that she had a not-so-regular bohemian childhood in New York’s Upper Westside — her writer mother and painter father often ushered her and her younger brother to art galleries, only allowed them an hour of television per week. “We were like a traveling band of wonderful gypsies,” Sobieski exclaims. In turn, she was a wildly creative child whose quirks included asking male co-stars like Peter O’Toole for locks of their hair to save, instead of a stale autograph.
Today, the 24-year-old is making her big screen reintroduction in the crime drama 88 Minutes, staring Al Pacino ( her reason for taking the role).
“I came back as a young woman, which was a new adjustment for me,” says Sobieski.
Yet the actress insists, “I’m really in love with my job again, and I feel really blessed to have it.”