Party Monster: Chloë Sevigny’s best and worst performances
As the star & producer of Lizzie Borden biopic Lizzie, Chloë Sevigny has spent a fair few years passionately working on the project. The movie was originally slated as a HBO miniseries before being scrapped when Lifetime scooped the idea in 2014 with Christina Ricci-led series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. After receiving some unfavorable reviews following its Sundance premiere, Sevigny provided a candid interview with The Huffington Post outlining the movie’s troubled history.
“I wanted it to be this rousing, smash-the-patriarchy piece,” Sevigny explained before expressing how “heartbroken” she was when HBO dropped the miniseries. Cutting Bryce Kass’s script down to a feature was a problem apparently worsened by the initial director quitting Lizzie. He was eventually replaced by Craig William Macneill (The Boy), who brought his own vision to the piece.
“It was very hard. I was like, ‘If you have another scene with Kristen Stewart and you don’t put it in your movie, you’re stupid. What’s your problem?’ . . . There was more to the relationships that made them more complicated, and also then informed why Lizzie (who commits the murders). Now it’s a little more vague than what Bryce and I intended originally to do.”
Still, the movie maintained the now-notorious scene of a nude Borden massacring her parents with an axe which is a very Sevigny-esque sequence, so that’s something. Throughout her career, the iconically cool star has enjoyed a vast variety of weird, wonderful, stupefying, and sexy roles with mixed results. Here are twelve of her most memorable roles, ranked from worst to best.
Alex Cox: #Horror (2015)
Sevigny sure looked classy in Tara Subkoff’s directorial debut, and her screaming was on point. But her performance made the character feel several decades older than the actor herself is.
Daisy: The Brown Bunny (2003)
Notorious for being the movie with a legit, on-screen blow job in its finale (featuring Sevigny’s character), Vincent Gallo’s movie wasn’t exactly a great showcase of the actor’s talents. Not that it was her fault. This is a movie where motorbikes are given more respect and agency than her character does.
Gitsie: Party Monster (2003)
Based on the true story of notorious club kid Michael Alig (portrayed by Macaulay Culkin) who bragged about killing his drug dealer and roommate on live television, Sevigny serves up fabulous in every scene she’s in. However, she’s definitely enjoyed stronger and more challenging roles.
Christina: The Mindy Project (2013)
As the ex-wife of Mindy’s (Mindy Kaling) occasional beau Danny (Chris Messina), Sevigny was emotional, sweet, occasionally vicious, and often hilarious. Frankly, it was ridiculous it took so long for a mainstream sitcom to utilize her in such a role.
Alexandra: Portlandia (2013)
Playing Fred (Fred Armisen) & Carrie’s (Carrie Brownstein) polyamorous, ludicrously cool, live-in partner, Sevigny got to be a lot more playful than her usual roles, showing off her chill, comedic prowess.
Dr. Alex Lowe / Shelley: American Horror Story (2012 – 2016)
Featured in Asylum & Hotel, Sevigny showcased her proclivity for campy horrifying performances. Her turn as Shelley – an asylum patient who becomes grotesquely mutilated by a Nazi doctor – was nothing short of jaw dropping.
Sadie: Antibirth (2016)
Continuing her horror performances, Sevigny was equally as commanding opposite Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black) as a woman tasked with helping a friend who suddenly wakes up with an alarmingly abnormal pregnancy.
Alice: The Last Days of Disco (1998)
Sevigny was perfectly cast in Whit Stillman’s smart, sassy comedy about the early 80s Manhattan party scene, considering she was the reigning it-girl of a similar scene in early 90s New York. Opposite Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), she delivers a restrained, elegant performance shining with charm and comedic flourishes.
Melanie: Zodiac (2007)
David Fincher’s true crime exploration on the nature of obsession is rightly considered to be a modern masterpiece. Sevigny’s restrained, heartbreaking performance as a woman losing the man she loves to his near fanatical serial killer theories still stands out among the powerful, striking performances from Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers), and Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight).
Jean: American Psycho (2000)
As Patrick Bateman’s (Christian Bale) perky, naive secretary, Sevigny brings a shock of sweetness & innocence to an otherwise blood-soaked, sardonic story. Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’s controversial novel features a finale that pivots around Sevigny’s performance as a young woman realizing the true extent of how monstrous her boss really is.
Jennie: Kids (1995)
Sevigny’s breakout role in this divisive collaboration between director Larry Clark (Bully) and screenwriter Harmony Korine (The Beach Bum) still makes for an uncomfortable watch over 20 years later. As Jennie – a teenage girl dealing with an unexpected HIV diagnosis – Sevigny delivered her rawest performance, commanding the viewer’s full attention (even when you’re desperate to look away).
Lana Tisdel: Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
The performance for which Sevigny received a Best Actress Oscar nomination is still the most breathtaking and captivating of her career. The warmth and delicate sensibilities Sevigny brings to the role makes the heart-wrenching finale all the more harrowing.