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Shannyn Sossamon

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Basic Information

Shannyn Sossamon

Date of Birth: 3 October 1978
Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Birth Name: Shannon Marie Kahoolani Sossamon
Height: 5' 7" (1.70 m)


Shannon Marie Kahoolani Sossamon (born 3 October 1978) is an American actress, dancer, model, and musician. She starred in the film A Knight's Tale, which gained her wider fame and praise. She has since established herself in Hollywood after starring in several films such as 40 Days and 40 Nights, Wristcutters: A Love Story, and One Missed Call. Sossamon also had a starring role in the CBS's vampire drama Moonlight.

Early life

Sossamon was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the daughter of Sherry Sossamon, a nurse, and Todd Lindberg; her mother later re-married Randy Goldstein. She is of Dutch, English, Irish, German, French, Filipino, and Hawaiian descent. The y in her first name was an adolescent alteration in 1995. Sossamon grew up in Reno, Nevada, and attended Galena High School there. The day after her high school graduation, Sossamon moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in dance. After moving to Los Angeles, Sossamon began to work as a DJ, booking gigs in local clubs.


Early work, 1997–2000

At the beginning of her career, Sossamon modeled for various companies including Sassy Magazine, Unionbay Clothing, American Eagle Outfitters, and Planned Parenthood. She also appeared in two television commercials for Gap and starred in music videos for artists such as Daft Punk, The Goo Goo Dolls, Cher, Mick Jagger, DJ Quik, and Korn. In 1999, Sossamon was discovered by casting director Francine Maisler, while assisting a fellow DJ at Gwyneth Paltrow's birthday party.

Worldwide recognition, 2001–2006

After going through several auditions, Sossamon beat Kate Hudson for the lead female role in the 2001 film A Knight's Tale opposite Heath Ledger. The film received generally positive reviews and performed strongly at the box office, with a domestic take of more than $55,000,000. Sossamon began to receive a lot of attention from Hollywood. In 2002, she starred in Miramax Films' romantic comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights, alongside Josh Hartnett. The film received mixed reviews from critics but was considered a box office success after earning a worldwide total of $95,146,283.

Also in 2002, Sossamon played a lead role in Roger Avary's dark satirical ensemble The Rules of Attraction, an adaptation of the Brett Easton Ellis book of the same name. The film included scenes of suicide, heavy drug use, and sexual content. Initially, The Rules of Attraction was given an NC-17 rating by the MPAA, but the film's distributor, Lions Gate Entertainment, ordered the filmmakers to edit the film in order to receive a R rating. The film received extremely mixed reviews from critics; most either loving it or hating it. Rolling Stone called the film "a perverse and sickly delightful treat," while Richard Roeper stated that he "hated this movie." Despite the mixed critical reception, the film is considered a cult hit. The film grossed $11,819,244 worldwide, almost tripling its budget.

Sossamon and Heath Ledger were cast together again and starred in the supernatural thriller The Order. The film was released in late 2003. It was received very poorly by critics and flopped at the box office. After shooting the unsuccessful movie, she became pregnant and decided that it was a good time to take a short break from acting.

In 2004, Sossamon guest starred on the episode "Doubt" on the popular NBC series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It was her only acting appearance of the year.

Sossamon returned to film in 2005, by starring in the direct-to-video low-budget horror film Devour, alongside Jensen Ackles and William Sadler. She had small roles in the films Undiscovered and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The former was a box-office and critical failure, while the latter received critical praise but failed commercially, grossing only $13,105,837 compared to a budget of $15 million. She also appeared alongside Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, and Jude Law in Nancy Meyers's 2006 romantic comedy The Holiday.

In 2006, Sossamon was cast as the female lead in the independent film Wristcutters: A Love Story opposite Patrick Fugit, Tom Waits, and Will Arnett. Wristcutters revolved around two characters who fall in love in purgatory after committing suicide. It was shown at both The Sundance Film Festival and The Seattle International Film Festival Awards in 2006. Autonomous Films picked it up for distribution, and it was released on March 25, 2008, to positive reviews. It was nominated for several awards including Sundance's Grand Jury Prize, two Independent Spirit Awards, the Humanitas Prize.


Sossamon was next cast in Courteney Cox's drama series Dirt on FX. She starred as Kira Klay, a celebrity who, after realizing that she is pregnant, kills herself. She then appears in visions to a schizophrenic photographer. She appears in five episodes in the first season.

She then starred in the horror film Catacombs alongside singer Pink. It was FEARnet and Lions Gate Entertainment's first film collaboration. It was first released in 2007 in several countries including Italy, Japan and Mexico, but it wasn't released in the United States until 2008. It was filmed in early 2005, but its release was delayed for more than two and a half years due to the death of one of the producers.

Sossamon signed on as a series regular on CBS's vampire drama Moonlight. The series began airing on September 28, 2007, and was watched by 8.54 million viewers. CBS ordered a 16-episode first season, but over the season, viewership decreased to around 7.5 million viewers. The series had a very large fan base, but despite fans' efforts, CBS canceled the series after the first season.

Sossamon starred in One Missed Call, was a remake of the Japanese horror film Chakushin Ari. The film also stars Ed Burns, Azura Skye, Margaret Cho, and Ray Wise. The film was savaged by critics, but was considered a major box-office success, grossing more than $42,000,000 worldwide. It was also considered a success on DVD and Blu-Ray, generating sales of more than $25,000,000 since its release on April 22, 2008. She played as Concetta, a woman faced with the challenges of raising her sick child and supporting her husband in the 2009 drama film Life Is Hot in Cracktown, directed by Buddy Giovinazzo, and co-starring Kerry Washington, Victor Rasuk, Lara Flynn Boyle and Brandon Routh. appeared in the thriller film The Heavy. The film was released on 16 April 2010 direct to DVD in the United States and received a limited theatrical release in the UK on the same day.

She currently costars in the HBO television series How to Make It in America.

Personal life

Sossamon has two tattoos, including an S with a flower on her right back shoulder standing for Sherry, her mother's name. She also has a small tattoo on her left wrist that says 'heart'. With Dallas Clayton, she has a son, Audio Science Clayton, born on May 29, 2003.Graham Coxon's fifth solo album, Happiness in Magazines, features a song called "Spectacular", which he reportedly wrote about Sossamon after seeing her picture on the internet.

Sossamon continues to study acting, music and dance. She was the original drummer in the Los Angeles psychedelic band, Warpaint with her sister Jenny Lindberg, but decided to leave the band to focus on acting. Her sole recording with the band is the 2009 EP, Exquisite Corpse.



Year Title Role Notes
2001 A Knight's Tale Jocelyn Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Female Performance

Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss shared with Heath Ledger Nominated — MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Sequence shared with Heath Ledger Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Film Chemistry shared with Heath Ledger

2002 40 Days and 40 Nights Erica Sutton Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Film Chemistry shared with Josh Hartnett
The Rules of Attraction Lauren Hynde
2003 Wholey Moses Max Short film
The Order Mara Sinclair
2005 Devour Marisol
Chasing Ghosts Taylor Spencer
I Hate You Jo Short film
The Double Melanie Short film
Undiscovered Josie
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Pink Hair Girl
2006 Wristcutters: A Love Story Mikal
The Holiday Maggie
2007 Catacombs Victoria
2008 One Missed Call Beth Raymond Nominated — Teen Choice Award for Choice Film Actress: Horror
2009 Life Is Hot in Cracktown Concetta
2010 Our Family Wedding Ashley McPhee
The Heavy Claire
Road to Nowhere TBA
Man Without A Head Hazel Post-Production
2011 American Empire TBA Pre-Production


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Mr. Show Fashion model Episodes "Peanut Butter, Eggs, and Dice", "Oh, You Men" and "Flat Top Tony and the Purple Canoes"
2004 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Myra Denning Episode "Doubt"
2007 Dirt Kira Klay 5 episodes
2007–2008 Moonlight Coraline 10 episodes
2010–2011 How to Make It in America Gingy Wu 16 episodes


  • Born in Hawaii but grew up in Nevada.
  • Was with her friend, who deejayed for Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Paltrow's joint birthday party in Hollywood, when discovered by Brian Helgeland, director of A Knight's Tale (2001). Was in three commercials before being in the movies.
  • She gave birth to her first child, a son by kickboxing instructor Dallas Clayton named Audio Science Clayton, born on May 29, 2003.
  • 2002: Ranked #55 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World".
  • 2002: Was featured as #33 in Maxim Magazine's "Hot 100 of 2002" supplement.
  • Beat out Kate Hudson for the role of Lady Jocelyn in A Knight's Tale (2001).
  • Is of French, Dutch, English, Irish, Hawaiian/Filipino and German descent; her maternal Grandmother is Hawaiian-Filipino, and her maternal Grandfather is English-German.
  • 1995: As an adolescent, she added the "y" in her first name.
  • Served on on the Feature Jury at the 2010 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.