Born: February 13, 1979
Birthplace: Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
Mena Alexandra Suvari (born February 13, 1979) is an American actress, fashion designer and model. Shortly after beginning her career as a model, Suvari appeared in guest roles on such 1990s television shows as Boy Meets World and High Incident.
She made her film debut in the drama Nowhere (1997). She achieved international fame for her roles as Angela Hayes in American Beauty and Heather Gardner in American Pie (both 1999), the former earning her a BAFTA Award nomination. She reprised her role as Heather in American Pie 2 (2001) and American Reunion (2012). She also appeared in The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), Loser (2000), Sugar & Spice (2001), Spun (2002), Trauma (2004), and the HBO drama series Six Feet Under (2001-05). Suvari is a model for Lancôme cosmetics and print ads for Lancôme Paris Adaptîve and has been featured in several fashion blogs and magazines such as Vogue. She is a long-time supporter and activist for the African relief organization, the African Medical and Research Foundation.
Suvari was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of Candice, a nurse, and Ando Ivar Süvari, a psychiatrist. Her mother is of half Greek descent and her father was Estonian (from Pärnu). She has three older brothers.
She began modeling as a preteen and soon after appeared in a Rice-A-Roni commercial. The family later relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where her brothers attended The Citadel. Mena considered becoming an archaeologist, astronaut or doctor, when a modeling agency stopped by her all-girls school, Ashley Hall, to offer classes. By the time she started acting, she had been modeling for the New York-based Wilhelmina agency for five years. Suvari relocated to California, and attended Providence High School in Burbank, graduating in 1997.
Suvari started her professional career as an actress through guest-appearances in television series such as Boy Meets World and ER at the age of fifteen and sixteen respectively. She also appeared in a number of episodes of the show High Incident, and played a girl infected with HIV in an one-episode appearance in Chicago Hope. She made the transition to film with the role of Zoe in the 1997 independent coming-of-age drama Nowhere, directed by Gregg Araki and co-starring James Duval, Rachel True, Heather Graham and Ryan Phillippe. Also in 1997, she had a supporting part in the indie Snide and Prejudice, which opened at the Cannes Film Festival, and had a small role in the mystery thriller Kiss the Girls, where she appeared opposite Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
She next appeared in the independent dramedy Slums of Beverly Hills, which was released in 1998. The film did not make an impression with audiences upon its theatrical premiere, but garnered positive reviews and has developed a cult following afterwards. It was on the set of this film that she met Natasha Lyonne, who would later join the cast of American Pie. In 1999, she played a teenager who commits suicide in the horror sequel The Rage: Carrie 2, which received negative reviews and bombed commercially, and also appeared in Atomic Train, a disaster thriller NBC mini-series where she played the daughter of Rob Lowe's character.
Suvari found major critical and mainstream recognition later in 1999 with her roles in the teen sex comedy American Pie and the drama American Beauty. In American Pie, she appeared with Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein and Natasha Lyonne, portraying an innocent choir girl named Heather. The film was a commercial success, grossing US$235 million worldwide. In American Beauty, directed by Sam Mendes and co-starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning and Thora Birch, she played the young fantasy of Spacey's character. The movie made US$356 million globally and received widespread critical acclaim, with Suvari attracting large attention for a particular bath scene with rose petals. It was the recipient of the Academy Award for Best Picture, and earned Suvari a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Following her newfound recognition, Suvari reunited with Jason Biggs in the 2000 romantic comedy Loser appearing as his love interest. A lukewarm critical and commercial reception greeted the film, but The New York Times felt that Suvari was "well matched with the handsome, unassuming Mr. Biggs. They're attractive without being offensively cute, and their characters manage to be genuinely nice without seeming bland or phony". In the same year, she headlined the satirical comedy American Virgin, taking on the role of the daughter of an adult film director who agrees to lose her virginity onscreen to spite her father. The original working title of the film was Live Virgin, but changed to capitalize on Suvari's previous successes in American Pie and American Beauty.
She had significant roles in three feature films in 2001; she played a chambermaid in the adventure action film The Musketeer and reprised her American Pie role in the sequel, American Pie 2, which made US$285 million at the international box office. She also portrayed one member of a group of cheerleaders who conspire and commit armed robbery in the teen crime comedy Sugar & Spice, which garnered negative reviews and bombed commercially, but became somewhat of a cult favorite on home video.
Suvari starred in the independent production Spun (2002), opposite Brittany Murphy and John Leguizamo. The dramedy, centered on various people involved in a methamphetamine drug ring, saw her play an addict and the girlfriend of a drug dealer (Leguizamo). Suvari subsequently appeared in Nicolas Cage's directorial debut Sonny, a small-budget drama co-starring James Franco and Brenda Blethyn, and in 2004, she starred with Colin Firth in the psychological thriller Trauma, which premiered on the film festival circuit, to a mediocre reception from critics who compared it unfavorably to Jacob's Ladder and Memento.
Also in 2004, she became a recurring character in the fourth season of the acclaimed HBO serial Six Feet Under, appearing as a lesbian performance poet and artist named Edie. She and the cast eventually received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. Suvari played supporting and minor parts in five films the following year; the indie romantic comedy Standing Still, the thriller Edmond, the comedy Rumor Has It, the action film Domino, and the comedy Beauty Shop.
In 2006, she performed the voice role of Aerith Gainsborough in the Square Enix/Disney video game Kingdom Hearts II and the English-language version of Square Enix's Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. She starred alongside Katherine Heigl in the independent comedy Caffeine, a romantic comedy about the relationships of the staff and patrons of the "Black Cat Cafe" in London one day. Suvari's last acting credit in 2006 was the biographical film Factory Girl, based on the rapid rise and fall of 1960s underground film star and socialite, Edie Sedgwick (played by Sienna Miller). The film was released to an overall mediocre reception.
In the crime drama Brooklyn Rules, directed by Michael Corrente and co-starring Freddie Prinze Jr., Alec Baldwin and Scott Caan, Suvari portrayed a society girl and the girlfriend of Prinze Jr.'s character, who gets involved with the Brooklyn mafia in the 1980s. The film received an limited release in May 2007, to a mixed response, but Variety felt that Suvari, "who might have played as a cliche, gives a real performance". Afterwards in the same year, she starred with Stephen Rea in the psychological thriller Stuck. Inspired by a true story, the film saw her playing a woman who commits a hit-and-run and leaves the victim clinging to his life in the windshield of her car. It premiered at the Cannes Film Market, and found a limited release in theaters, but was favorably received by critics and audiences. Austin Chronicle wrote that film was "buoyed by queasy, easy performances" from Suvari and Rea, who were considered to be "well-matched in uneasy roles" by Empire.
She took on the leading role in the horror zombie Day of the Dead, a remake of George A. Romero's film of the same name about a virus outbreak that causes people to turn into violent zombie-like creatures. Released in 2008, the film went directly to DVD and received negative reviews; Brian Orndorf for DVD Talk found Suvari to be "the most miscast actress in film history" playing what he wrote as a "butch military leader capable of fending off a zombie holocaust". She next appeared in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, a film adaptation of writer Michael Chabon's novel. She played Phlox Lombardi, a strange girl who works at a book shop and becomes romantically involved with Jon Foster's character. Filmed in 2006, the film premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and had a limited theatrical run, to an overall lukewarm response.
Also in 2008, she was cast in the role of Catherine Bourne in the big-screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Garden of Eden. The film was released at the RomaCinemaFest and had a limited investors' screening in the UK. Reviews were negative for the film, with Los Angeles Times calling it a "a literary B-side turned into something not awful, just forgettable". Her last film release in the year was the Lifetime film Sex and Lies in Sin City, about the events surrounding the death of Las Vegas casino owner Ted Binion.
Suvari made one-episode appearances in Psych in 2010, and in The Cape in 2011. She also had a two-episode arc as Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia, in Murder House, the first season of the anthology horror series American Horror Story. In the independent romantic comedy You May Not Kiss the Bride, Suvari starred with Dave Annable, Katharine McPhee and Rob Schneider as the psychotic assistant of Annable's character. The film debuted at the 2011 Sonoma International Film Festival and was released in the US for selected markets and VOD, garnering largely negative reviews. Blu-ray.com considered the film to be a "a noisy, unlikable distraction" that "depends on Suvari and Schneider to carry the comedy workload, which is about as appealing as it reads".
In 2012, she reprised for the second time her role of Heather in American Reunion, which revolved around the first two movies' protagonists as they approach middle age and prepare for a reunion. The movie earned mixed reviews from critics, who called it "a sweetly nostalgic comfort food" for fans of the franchise, and with a worldwide gross of US$235 million, it emerged as Suvari's biggest commercial success since American Pie 2. She obtained a regular role in the second season of the action-drama series Chicago Fire in 2013, portraying the friend and political consultant of Monica Raymund's character.
Suvari starred in the psychological horror film Don't Blink, directed by Travis Oates and co-starring Zack Ward and Brian Austin Green. The independent film, centering on a group of friends who visit an empty remote resort and attempt to find out what happened to the other guests, received a limited theatrical release in September 2014. She next starred in the crime thriller Badge of Honor as a brand new Internal Affairs detective who gets caught up in the aftermath of a violent drug bust that includes an officer shooting of an innocent young teenager. It was released directly-to-DVD in early 2015.
Afterwards, she headlined the supernatural horror drama series South of Hell, taking on the role of a demon-hunter for hire. All episodes of the show aired back-to-back in November 2015, and an eighth episode was made available only through iTunes. The series made little impression in its broadcast, and The Hollywood Reporter noted that "while the prospect of playing seems like it ought to be enticing for Suvari, her more general interpretation appears to be closer to miserable discomfort, which may be related to either those contact lenses or the strangeness" in her portrayal.
Suvari is a model for Lancôme cosmetics and print ads for Lancôme Paris Adaptîve and has been featured in several fashion blogs and magazines such as Vogue. Suvari plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games for the Starlight Children's Foundation. She is also active in female empowerment issues. She is involved with several charities whose cause is breast cancer, the "End Violence Against Women" campaign, and tours high schools as a "Circle Of Friends" spokesperson, encouraging teenagers to quit smoking.
Suvari married German-born cinematographer Robert Brinkmann on March 4, 2000. Brinkmann was 17 years her senior. On April 24, 2005, she filed for legal separation, citing irreconcilable differences; the divorce was finalized in May 2005.
In 2007, Suvari began dating Italian Canadian concert promoter Simone Sestito, whom she met at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Suvari and Sestito became engaged in July 2008 during a vacation to Jamaica. They were married on June 26, 2010 in a private chapel in Rome. On January 13, 2012, Suvari filed for divorce from Sestito in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences and listing November 1, 2011 as the date of separation. The divorce was finalized in October 2012.
|1997||Kiss the Girls||Coty Pierce|
|1997||Snide and Prejudice||Geli Raubal|
|1998||Slums of Beverly Hills||Rachel Hoffman|
|1999||Rage: Carrie 2, TheThe Rage: Carrie 2||Lisa Parker|
|1999||Atomic Train||Grace Seger|
|1999||American Beauty||Angela Hayes|
|2000||American Virgin||Katrina Bartalotti|
|2001||Musketeer, TheThe Musketeer||Francesca Bonacieux|
|2001||American Pie 2||Heather|
|2001||Sugar & Spice||Kansas Hill|
|2005||Rumor Has It||Annie Huttinger|
|2005||Beauty Shop||Joanne Marcus|
|2006||Factory Girl||Richie Berlin|
|2006||Dog Problem, TheThe Dog Problem||Jules|
|2006||Final Fantasy VII Advent Children||Aerith Gainsborough (voice)||English dub|
|2008||Day of the Dead||Sarah Bowman|
|2008||Mysteries of Pittsburgh, TheThe Mysteries of Pittsburgh||Phlox Lombardi|
|2008||The Garden of Eden||Catherine Bourne|
|2010||You May Not Kiss the Bride||Tonya|
|2010||No Surrender||Amelia Davis|
|2015||Badge of Honor||Jessica Dawson|
|2016||I'll Be Home For Christmas||Jackie Foster|
|1995/96||Boy Meets World||Laura / Hillary||2 episodes ("Danger Boy" (as Laura in season 2) and "The Grass Is Always Greener" (as Hilary in season 3)|
|1996||Minor Adjustments||Emily||Episode: "A Fish Story"|
|1996||ER||Laura-Lee Armitage||Episode: "Last Call"|
|1996/97||High Incident||Jill Marsh||4 episodes|
|1997||Chicago Hope||Ivy Moore||Episode: "Sympathy for the Devil"|
|1999||Atomic Train||Grace Seger||Television film|
|2004||Six Feet Under||Edie||7 episodes in season 4|
|2006||Orpheus||Sue Ellen||Television film|
|2008||Sex and Lies in Sin City||Sandy Murphy||Television film|
|2010||Psych||Allison Cowley||Episode: "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16)|
|2011||The Cape||Dice||Episode: "Dice" (1.05)|
|2011||American Horror Story: Murder House||Elizabeth Short||2 episodes|
|2013||Chicago Fire||Isabelle||7 episodes|
|2013||Hollywood Game Night||Herself||Episode: "What's Cooking on Game Night"|
|2013||Lakewood Plaza Turbo||Enid / Ginger (voices)|
|2015||South of Hell||Maria Abascal/Abigail||Lead role|
|2016||Inside Amy Schumer||Herself||Episode: "Psychopath Test"|
|2016||Justice League Action||Killer Frost (voice)||Episode: "Freezer Burn"|
|2017||American Woman||Diana||TV Land pilot|
|2006||Kingdom Hearts II||Aerith Gainsborough||English dub|
|2016||OK K.O.! Lakewood Plaza Turbo||Enid|
|Year||Association||Category||Title of work||Result|
|1999||Online Film Critics Society||Best Cast||American Beauty||Won|
|2000||Young Hollywood Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||American Pie||Won|
|2000||Screen Actors Guild||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||American Beauty||Won|
|2000||BAFTA Awards||Best Actress in a Supporting Role||American Beauty||Nominated|
|2005||Screen Actors Guild||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Six Feet Under||Nominated|
Mena Suvari supports the following charitable causes: Women's Issues, Peace, Children.