Family & Companions
Multi-talented, fiercely committed and independently minded, Lauren Ambrose made a considerable impression on television viewers during her run on the critically acclaimed comedy-drama, "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). Once an aspiring opera singer, she began acting off-Broadway and on television prior to gaining notice with roles in features like "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998) and the cult-favorite "Psycho Beach Party" (2000). But it was her portrayal of the somber, artistically-inclined Claire Fisher on Alan Ball's edgy HBO series that soon won her accolades from industry insiders and fans alike. Ambrose honed her craft with theatre performances in the years that followed the show's finale, appearing with Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon in a revival of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King" in 2009. Following a delightfully against type recurring role as an ethically bankrupt PR executive on the sci-fi miniseries "Torchwood: Miracle Day" (Starz, 2011), the actress stunned critics and audiences with her emotionally raw portrayal of a mother pushed to desperation in "Think of Me" (2011). Boasting an impressive and diverse list of credits for such a young career, Ambrose was poised to become one of Hollywood's most respected actresses.
Born Lauren Anne D'Ambruoso in New Haven, CT on Feb. 20, 1978, she was the daughter of Anne and Frank D'Ambruoso, an interior designer and caterer, respectively. Growing up in Connecticut, she attended the private preparatory school Choate Rosemary Hall followed by Wilbur Cross High School for a time before her interest in performing led her elsewhere. After transferring to New Haven's progressively-minded public school High School in the Community, Ambrose was accepted in the magnet program at ACES Educational Center for the Arts where she studied music, theater and dance. Ambrose was accepted in the magnet program at ACES Educational Center for the Arts where she studied music, theater and dance. Primarily interested in a career in opera, she undertook voice training during the summers at the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Acting fit in well with her artistic endeavors, so before long, Ambrose began making television appearances in the early-1990s on such series as "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), in addition to performing on stage with the New York-based Vineyard Theatre Company and the Ensemble Studio Theater.
Ambrose made her feature debut in the Frank Oz romantic-comedy "In and Out" (1997), playing Vickie Rayburn, a gifted student of Kevin Kline's sexually ambiguous English teacher. She impressed critics in 1998 when she returned to "Law & Order" for an episode in which she portrayed a mentally-challenged young woman raped by a group of popular high school students. More screen time came her way with a turn in the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" (1998), in which she played quick-witted recluse Denise, unlikely romantic foil for hip-hop wannabe Kenny (Seth Green). Ambrose next landed a well-received recurring role as the deeply-troubled and morally ambiguous Myra Wingler on the family-drama "Party of Five" (Fox, 1994-2000) during the 1999 season. The burgeoning actress followed with leading roles in two independent features - the cult comedy "Psycho Beach Party" (2000) and the coming-of-age drama "Swimming" (2000).
Ambrose won her breakout role when she was cast as a regular on writer-director Alan Ball's dark comedy-drama "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05). As Claire Fisher, the youngest child of the mortuary-operating family, the actress portrayed the rebellious and surly aspiring artist with admirable depth and wit. So much so, that in 2002 and again in 2003, Ambrose garnered Emmy nominations for her endearing portrayal alongside an impressive ensemble cast that included the likes of Frances Conroy, Peter Krause and Michael C. Hall. Following the acclaimed conclusion of "Six Feet Under," Ambrose made her Broadway debut with a revival of Clifford Odets' drama "Awake and Sing!" which won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in 2006. She then returned to feature films opposite veteran actor Frank Langella in the drama "Starting Out in the Evening" (2007) as an ambitious graduate student intent on interviewing a reclusive author (Langella) for her Master's thesis. Yearning to return to the stage, she performed in mountings of "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet" for the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in 2007 and 2008. The following year, she was back on Broadway opposite Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon in a production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King" in 2009.
During this period, Ambrose also managed a fair amount of work on television, including a turn as Jeff Bridges' daughter in "A Dog Year" (HBO, 2008), Parker Posey's sister in the exceedingly short-lived sitcom "The Return of Jezebel James" (Fox, 2008) and the title role in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production "Loving Leah" (CBS, 2009) as a young widow in a tight-knit Hasidic community. That same year, she gave voice to the feisty, antisocial creature, KW, in the live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beloved children's fable "Where the Wild Things Are" (2009), co-written and directed by Spike Jonze. After nearly two years away from screens, Ambrose returned as the ruthless and conniving PR executive Jilly Kitsinger on the U.K.-U.S. co-production of "Torchwood: Miracle Day" (Starz, 2011), a "Doctor Who" spin-off miniseries centering on the discovery that no one on Earth can die. In the feature "Think of Me" (2011), Ambrose delivered a heartbreaking performance as a single mother in Las Vegas struggling to take care of her daughter (Audrey Scott) as her world crumbles around her and events conspire to make her consider the unthinkable. Ambrose's uncompromising portrayal of the desperate mother earned her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead.
By Bryce Coleman
Cast (Feature Film)
Made off-Broadway stage debut at age 14 in the Vineyard Theatre production "Soulful Scream of a Chosen Son"
Had an early TV credit with a guest role on an episode of NBC's "Law & Order"
Played a student of Kevin Kline's sexually ambiguous English teacher in the Frank Oz comedy "In & Out"
Returned to "Law & Order" (NBC) for another guest role as a mentally-challenged teenage rape victim
Co-starred in the ensemble of the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait," playing smart and cynical high school graduate Denise
Played lead in short-lived sitcom "Saving Graces" (The WB)
Had a recurring role as a troubled teen on "Party of Five" (Fox)
Starred in the independent coming of age drama feature "Swimming"
Landed a featured role in the comedy "Psycho Beach Party"; also displayed her vocal talents in one scene
Cast as the youngest child Claire Fisher in a family that operates a funeral home on the HBO series "Six Feet Under"; earned Emmy (2002, 2003) nominations for Supporting Actress
Broadway debut in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of "Awake and Sing!"
Played an ambitious graduate student in "Starting Out in the Evening" opposite Frank Langella
Cast in the Broadway production of Eugene Ionesco's "Exit the King"
Voiced KW in Spike Jonze's live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's book "Where the Wild Things Are"
Cast as Jilly Kitzinger on the Starz sci-fi series "Torchwood: Miracle Day"
Starred in the drama "Think of Me" opposite Penelope Ann Miller and David Conrad
Co-starred opposite Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in "Wanderlust"
Starred as a medical intern in A&E miniseries "Coma," based on 1978 film