Also Credited As:Lucy Alexis Liu
About Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu was born on Dec. 2, 1968 and raised in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, NY. Her parents were Taiwanese immigrants who had left behind careers in biochemistry and civil engineering to start a new life in the State; with both encouraging their children to receive a full education and pursue professional careers of their own. Reluctant to make waves in her ambitious family, the arts-oriented Liu kept her dreams of a becoming an actress to herself, studying her favorite Charlie Chan films for inspiration. In 1986, she graduated from Stuyvesant High School in New York City and went on to New York University, but after one year, transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. While Liu closed in on a Bachelor of Science degree in Asian Languages and Culture, it was becoming harder to ignore her lifelong aspirations of acting. Her senior year she auditioned for a supporting role in a college production of "Alice in Wonderland" and was astonished to be offered the lead, particularly because the part typically called for a blonde Caucasian. In 1990, Liu broke the bad news to her parents: despite her freshly inked college degree, she was moving to Los Angeles to become an actress.
In less than a year, Liu landed her first professional acting job with a stint as a Peach Pit waitress on "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox, 1990-2000). Soon, she was enjoying several guest spots a year on both dramas and comedies, ranging from "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) to "Coach" (ABC, 1989-1997). One of her more memorable turns was the recurring part of a woman whose young son was suffering from AIDS complications NBC's medical drama, "ER" (1994-2009). In 1996, Liu's up-and-coming film career began with a bit part as an ex-girlfriend in the 1996 hit "Jerry Maguire." The following year, she played an exotic dancer in the Harvey Keitel actioner "City of Industry," but she was about to achieve her big break with a role her parents would be proud of. In 1998, Liu auditioned for the role of Nelle Porter on the hit dramedy series, "Ally McBeal." The role was given to Portia de Rossi, but David E. Kelley was wowed by Liu's talent and promised to write a guest part for her in the show. The occasional appearances of Liu as Ling Woo - a hilariously bitchy, un-PC attorney - were such a winner with audiences, that Woo was added as a cast regular in the show's third season. During her run on the series, Liu's scene-stealing comic relief earned her many fans, as well as an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Had Liu not already come to the public's attention on "Ally McBeal," the 1999 Mel Gibson flick "Payback" may have proven to be her breakthrough role. She starred as Pearl, a leather-clad dominatrix who proved so likable, that the initial script was rewritten to afford her more screen time. The popular movie led to a pairing with Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in the Wild West comedy "Shanghai Noon" (2000), before Liu snagged her most famous leading screen role alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz as one of "Charlie's Angels" (2000). The girl-powered romp was a blockbuster and a respectful tribute to the iconic 1970s "jiggle" series. Even more refreshing was the inclusion of Asian-American Liu as representative of a new era of big screen female protagonists.
Following the phenomenal success of "Charlie's Angels," however, Liu's film career weathered its share of ups and downs. She starred opposite Antonio Banderas in the little-seen sci-fi thriller "Ecks vs. Sever" in 2002. She nabbed a part in the Oscar-winning film adaptation of the Broadway hit "Chicago" (2002), turning in a juicy if all-too-brief performance as murderess Kitty Baxter. In 2003, Liu reunited with Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore for the action-packed sequel "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" - a film that was more laughable than anything else and all but killed the franchise off. Undeterred, Liu got on board Quentin Tarantino's long-awaited fourth feature, "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" (2003), giving a bravura performance as Japanese-Chinese-American O-Ren Ishii, Queen of the Tokyo Underworld and leader of the Crazy 88 Fighters. Liu also enlivened the 2004-05 first season of the doomed "Friends" spin-off sitcom "Joey" by playing the compulsively clean TV producer Lauren Beck on several episodes.
Making a shift, Liu began to focus more on dramas, playing a role as an FBI psychologist in the feature film bounty hunter chronicle "Domino" (2005) and as a Mandarin black market blood dealer in "3 Needles," which was not widely released but impressed the festival circuit with its gripping profiles of the international AIDS epidemic. Liu made her first foray into producing with the well-received documentary "Freedom's Fury" (2006), which centered on a 1956 Olympic water polo tournament between Russia and Hungary that paralleled the nations' struggle over power. Liu returned to the screen as a fast-talking coroner trying to help Josh Hartnett survive a case of mistaken identity in the thriller "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006) before taking an executive producer credit (and a supporting role) on the unfortunate Cedric the Entertainer flop, "Code Name: The Cleaner" (2007).
A straight-to-video thriller "Rise: Blood Hunter" (2007) found undead journalist Liu on a quest for revenge against the vampires that took her life, until a waning film profile was interrupted with a return to series television on "The Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 2008). From the executive producer of "Sex and The City" (HBO, 1998-2004), the highly anticipated hour-long drama promised to make the most of Liu's persona as a strong, independent woman and a loyal friend - albeit, with a great wardrobe. Unfortunately, "Cashmere Mafia" failed to attract the same loyal demographic "Sex and the City" had courted so well and was cancelled by the end of its first season. Liu enjoyed far greater success, surprisingly enough, in a pair of animated feature films. She voiced Viper, one of the animal warriors known as the Furious Five in the smash hit, "Kung Fu Panda" (2008) and delivered another audio performance as the water fairy Silvermist in Disney's highly anticipated direct-to-DVD release "Tinker Bell" (2008).
With her schedule freed up by the axing of "Cashmere Mafia," Liu took another chance on a weekly series when she joined the cast of the avarice-themed melodrama, "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC, 2008-09). It was, however, another short-term endeavor, as the show was yanked by the end of season two. Returning to the more dependable and less demanding world of vocal work, she contributed to the animated sequels "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (2009) and "Kung Fu Panda 2" (2011) - the latter of which led to continued duties on the animated series, "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness" (Nickelodeon, 2011- ). While it was not a fulltime commitment, Liu earned praise for her recurring role on acclaimed Los Angeles cop drama "Southland" (NBC, 2009/TNT, 2010- ), which she joined during its fourth season. She returned to feature film work with a supporting turn opposite Adrien Brody in "Detachment" (2012), an indie drama examining daily life at an urban high school.
|Nicholas Lea. Dated from 1997-98|
|Will McCormack. Brother of actress Mary McCormack; began dating in 2005|
|Zach Helm. Began dating in July 2003; announced their engagement in April 2004; split in late 2004|
|John Liu. Born c. 1965|
|Tom Liu. Emigrated from China|
|Cecilia Liu. Emigrated from China|
|Jenny Liu. Born c. 1966|
|New York University, New York , New York|
|Stuyvesant High School, New York , New York|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor , Michigan|
|Appeared in TV commercials|
|Raised in Queens, NY|
|Cast in the lead role of Alice, in the University of Michigan's production of "Alice in Wonderland"|
|Had an early television role on Fox's "Beverly Hills, 90210" as a waitress at the Peach Pit|
|Had a memorable recurring role on NBC's "ER" as a woman whose son is suffering from complications of AIDS|
|Cast as a regular on "Pearl" (CBS) playing college student Amy Li alongside Rhea Pearlman|
|Feature debut, a small part in "Jerry Maguire"|
|Played Luke Perry's racist self-loathing girlfriend in Showtime's "Riot"|
|Played an exotic dancer in "City of Industry"|
|Joined the cast of Fox's legal comedy "Ally McBeal" as Ling Woo; garnered Emmy (1999) and SAG (2000) nominations; left show early in the fifth season to pursue film career|
|Cast as the sadistic dominatrix/hit woman for the Chinese mafia in "Payback"|
|Landed featured role in "Play It to the Bone"|
|Portrayed Alex Munday, one of "Charlie's Angels" in McG's film adaption of the popular 70s series|
|Portrayed a kidnapped Chinese princess in "Shanghai Noon" opposite Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson|
|Appeared in small but vital role as murderess Kitty Baxter in "Chicago"|
|Played assassin O-Ren Ishii/Cottonmouth in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill"; film released in two Volumes "Kill Bill Vol. 1" (2003) and "Kill Bill Vol.2" (2004)|
|Re-teamed with Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz to reprise their roles in "Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle"|
|Guest-starred on several episodes of NBC's "Joey" as a tough-talking executive producer|
|Portrayed a psychologist opposite Keira Knightley in the thriller "Domino"|
|Appeared in one of three short stories about the global HIV pandemic, "3 Needles"|
|Played the girl next door opposite Josh Hartnett in the thriller "Lucky Number Slevin"|
|Guest starred on ABC's "Ugly Betty"|
|Joined the cast of ABC drama "Dirty Sexy Money"|
|Lent her voice to the character Viper in the animated feature "Kung Fu Panda"|
|Starred on the short-lived ABC series "Cashmere Mafia," executive produced by "Sex and the City" producer Darren Star|
|Made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning hit play "God of Carnage"|
|Again lent her voice to the animated feature "Kung Fu Panda 2"|
|Joined the cast of TNT's "Southland" as seasoned policewoman Jessica Tang|