I felt more exposed than I've ever been
blues harmonica-playing mother, Linda. Her first job came when she was just six in the mini-series Lucky Chances; she starred in the film Girl, Interrupted with Angelina Jolie aged 15 and at 17 she played President Jed Bartlet’s youngest daughter, Zoey, in the longrunning and critically acclaimed TV political drama The West Wing, which was created by Aaron Sorkin. Both her parents were Scientologists and she went to a Scientology drama school. She credits the faith with giving her confidence. ‘It’s about making you better, not necessarily changing who you are,’ she says.
It was a particular solace to her when her marriage to Fred Armisen, a comedian and impressionist on the popular American comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, broke down after just eight months in 2010. Soon after they split, Elisabeth said the greatest impression he did was ‘ that of a normal person’. Fred, who, it transpired, was dating his co-star Abby Elliott just a week after the couple’s separation, later admitted he had been ‘a terrible husband’. Elisabeth is currently in a relationship with Australian cinematographer Adam Arkapaw.
But despite having been famous for so long Elisabeth — who describes herself as ‘a little bit ditzy and immature’, is still uncomfortable with the idea of it. While certainly strikinglooking — particularly out of her Peggy clothes — she doesn’t have the traditional Hollywood Barbie-doll looks.
‘The whole focus on appearance can be a tremendous amount of pressure,’ she admits candidly. ‘It’s awful. Imagine, every time you go out anyone in the world can comment on what you’re wearing. And everyone else in the world can see their comments. It hurts when you read something negative about you. But you learn to understand that just as there will always be people who say nice things, there will be people who say not so nice things. And they’re like that with everybody — not just you. It comes with the job. In the scale of horrible things that people have to deal with, it’s not that bad.’
And then with a smile and a ‘Thank you very much’, Elisabeth is ready to head off. She may well be Hollywood’s most polite leading lady.