Birthdate: April 4, 1979
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Now best known for her hit TV series (as star-writer-producer-director), Russian Doll (2019-2022) and her sassy role as Nicky in the long-running series, Orange is the New Black (2013-2019), Natasha Lyonne (birthname: Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein is a 36-year show business veteran. Lyonne first appeared as a child actor under Mike Nichols’ direction in Heartburn (1986) with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. In 1996, Woody Allen cast teenage Lyonne in Everyone Says I Love You, with Drew Barrymore and Alan Alda.
As Lyonne moved into her 20s, she seriously ramped up her film credits, both in volume and visibility, with a starring role in Tamara Jenkins’ hit comedy-drama, The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), and co-starring roles in Todd Holland’s comedy, Krippendorf’s Tribe (1998), with Richard Dreyfuss and Lily Tomlin, and in Paul Weitz’s megahit, American Pie (1999) (along with the sequels American Pie 2 (2001) and American Reunion (2012)).
Lyonne served as associate producer and star for her second film with director Matthew Bright, Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (1999), and then starred in the beloved LGBTQ+ cult hit, But I’m a Cheerleader (1999), which turned Lyonne into something of an “It Girl” on the film festival circuit, furthered by her colorful turns in such cult hits as Charles Busch’s satire, Die, Mommie, Die! (2003), with Jason Priestley and Frances Conroy, and the Fenton Bailey/Randy Barbato black comedy, Party Monster (2003), with Macaulay Culkin.
Making two of her rare appearances in wide audience studio fare, Natasha Lyonne appeared in a supporting role in the Wesley Snipes-starring Blade: Trinity (2004), and as a voice character in 20th Century Fox’s animated Robots (2005), but for the most part, Lyonne has concentrated her feature film acting over the past decade-plus in the world of American independent cinema (marked by well over a dozen films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival), typified by signature films like David Russo’s surreal The Immaculate Conception of Litte Dizzie (2009); Joshua Grannell’s ghoulish horror film, All About Evil (2010); Abel Ferrara’s apocalyptic 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), with Willem Dafoe; plus several indie films which received prominent festival premieres, including The Rambler (2013), with Dermot Mulroney; G.B.F. (2013) with Megan Mullaly; Sharon Shari Berman and Robert Pulcini’s Girl Most Likely (2013), with Kristin Wiig; Adam Rapp’s Loitering with Intent (2014), with Marisa Tomei; Jamie Babbit’s Addicted to Fresno (2015), with Judy Greer, Aubrey Plaza, Molly Shannon, and Fred Armisen; Leslye Headland’s Sleeping with Other People (2015), with Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie.
Frank V. Ross’ Bloomin Mud Shuffle (2015), with James Ransone; Tara Subkoff’s horror thriller #Horror (2015), with Chloë Sevigny, Timothy Hutton, and Balthazar Getty; Kevin Smith’s horror comedy Yoga Hosers (2016), with Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Depp, and Johnny Depp; actor Clea DuVall’s writing-directing debut—yet another Sundance premiere—The Intervention (2016), with DuVall, Melanie Lynskey, and Alia Shawkat; another 2016 Sundance premiere with Lyonne headlining and producing Danny Perez’s body-horror film, Antibirth, with Sevigny and Meg Tilly; and Thomas Dekker’s South by Southwest-premiering Jack Goes Home (2016), with Rory Culkin and Lin Shaye.
Natasha Lyonne’s expanded visibility in Orange is the New Black also boosted the flow of Netflix-released movies in which she co-starred, including writer-star Bob Odenkirk’s Girlfriend’s Day (2017), with Amber Tamblyn; writer-director-star Jeff Garlin’s comedy, Handsome (2017), with Amy Sedaris; and David Wain’s comedy A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018), with Will Forte.
Lyonne appeared in Alma Ha’rel’s acclaimed Honey Boy (2019) with Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, and Noah Jupe, and in a smaller role in James Gray’s sci-fi drama, Ad Astra (2019), with Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. Jon Stewart cast Lyonne in his 2020 political comedy, Irresistible, opposite Steve Carell, and in a change of pace, Lyonne portrayed a figure out of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Tallulah Bankhead, in the Lee Daniels/Suzan Lori Parks biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021), with Andra Day. Lyonne turned vocal actor in 2022 for Warner Animated’s DC League of Super-Pets, with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart.
New York City-born was raised by Ivette Buchinger and Aaron Braunstein, a radio host, racecar driver, and boxing promoter. Lyonne’s brother is Adam Braunstein. Her maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Lyonne lived in Israel with her family, until her parent’s divorce, when she and her brother returned to New York with their mother Ivette. Lyonne graduated from Manhattan’s Yeshiva High School and briefly attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts until she dropped out at age 17 and lived on her own, purchasing a penthouse apartment. Lyonne has no children. Her height is 5’ 3”.
Young Adventurer: Natasha Lyonne joined a Zionist military camp in Israel when she was 13.
Recovery: Once a heroin addict, Lyonne broke her addiction and later underwent open-heart surgery to repair the physical damage she endured as a junkie.