Born in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, Germany, Sheryl Lee was the daughter of an artist mother and a father who worked as an architect. They raised her in Boulder, Colorado, where she attended high school before studying acting at several acclaimed theater schools, including the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the National Theatre Conservatory. Lee began her professional acting career on stage in Seattle, where director David Lynch discovered her. He cast her in her most iconic role, that of schoolgirl Laura Palmer, whose murder launched the labyrinthine and surreal storylines of "Twin Peaks." Not wishing to limit her talents to playing a corpse wrapped in plastic, Lynch also cast Lee as Palmer's lookalike cousin, Madeleine Ferguson, who also met a terrible fate during the course of the show's brief network run. While working on "Twin Peaks," Lee made her screen debut as Glinda, the Good Witch, who appears at the conclusion of Lynch's ferocious and bizarre "Wild at Heart," and reprised her turn as Laura Palmer in the more baffling "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" (1992), which attempted to bring the series to a conclusion. The cult appeal of "Twin Peaks" led to a number of movie and television opportunities for Lee, most notably as photographer Astrid Kirchherr in the Beatles biopic "Backbeat" (1994) and in the title role for the 1994 Lifetime TV-movie "Guinevere." Lee's film career stalled in a variety of small independent dramas like "Mother Night" (1996) and "This World, Then the Fireworks" (1997), though she was showcased as a hooker-turned-bloodsucker in John Carpenter's brawny action-horror film "Vampires" (1998). She found more consistent work on television and stage, including an impressive turn as Oscar Wilde's "Salome" opposite Al Pacino on Broadway in 1992. In a nod to her most famous role, she was initially cast as Mary Alice Young, the deceased narrator of "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012), but was replaced after filming the pilot by Brenda Strong. Lee worked steadily throughout the 2000s, enjoying recurring roles on both "One Tree Hill" (The WB, 2003-2012) and "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC, 2007-09), before earning critical acclaim as part of the ensemble cast in Debra Granik's Ozark drama "Winter's Bone," which earned four Oscar nominations.
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