Shannyn Sossamon sprang onto the scene in the early 2000s, best known for her leading role opposite Heath Ledger in 2001's A Knight's Tale. Sossamon followed up that hit with several other movies, including 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002) and The Rules of Attraction (2002). By mid-decade, however, Sossamon had generally faded from the Hollywood spotlight.
What happened to Shannyn Sossamon in the aftermath of stardom isn't unique to her as an actress. Her career, her life, and her passions extended outside of acting long before she appeared on screen and, ultimately, sent her in several directions on the heels of movie success. Where Shannyn Sossamon is now reflects her multitude of talents and interests - and a bit of just how fickle Hollywood can be.
- Photo: Wristcutters: A Love Story / Autonomous Films
She Went The Indie Route After Several Studio Movies
Sossamon's only acting credit between 2003 and 2005 was an appearance on Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit in 2004. It wasn't until 2006 that Sossamon found her next critical success, appearing in Wristcutters: A Love Story. The independent film, and Sossamon's performance, were widely praised.
She followed up Wristcutters with several mainstream appearances on the big and small screens, including playing opposite Jack Black in 2006's The Holiday and taking on a recurring role on CBS's short-lived series Moonlight in 2007.
Sossamon's next major independent film success was Road to Nowhere in 2010. Directed by Monte Hellman, Road to Nowhere is part romance and part thriller, weaving a story of crime, scandal, and intrigue. Sossamon was the first actor cast for the film, having been seen in an acting class by Road to Nowhere's producer, Steven Gaydos. He reportedly set up a meeting between Sossamon and Hellman, one that they "both felt was right" almost immediately.
Los Angeles Times film critic Kevin Thomas described Road to Nowhere as a film that "ultimately stands on the beauty and talent of its femme fatale, and Shannyn Sossamon is so stunning and gifted she actually withstands a remark comparing her to [1920s and '30s actress] Louise Brooks."
- Photo: Moonlight / CBS
She Spent A Few Years As A Low-Key Scream Queen
Not a fan of horror, Sossamon became somewhat of a staple in the genre. For Sossamon, "The only reason I've done a lot of genre is because it comes to me."
She's embraced the casting, however. Her appearance as a vampire in Moonlight was one that cult fans of the short-lived series enjoyed. "I definitely find very heavy roles easier than comedy," Sossamon noted in 2008. "I love playing a vampire."
Sossamon also appeared in psychological thrillers like One Missed Call, the television series Wayward Pines, horror sequel Sinister 2, and the Sleepy Hollow TV series. At times, stepping away from the horror genre seemed appealing, especially when she was approached for Sinister 2:
I really didn't want to do another horror film. You know, just because they're exhausting... I... went and met with [director] Ciaran [Foy] and… we were talking for two hours, and it just went by so quickly. And I walked out of the meeting with him and I thought gosh, he just made me excited to do Sinister 2.
- Photo: Rules of Attraction / Lions Gate Films
She Played Drums For An All-Star Rock Band
Sossamon has a passion for music, one that led her to play drums alongside her younger sister, Jenny Lee Lindberg, as members of Warpaint. She was a drummer for the band between 2004 and 2008, appearing as a vocalist and drummer on their first EP, Exquisite Corpse.
Sossamon later directed one of the band's music videos, for their song "Undertow," in 2010.
Sossamon told Vogue magazine in 2010, "I love music. I love playing music. I’m not very good, but I love playing drums, I like to play guitar, I like to sing, I like listening to all kinds of music. I have a piano in my house, so my son can learn; I don’t know how to play very well but like to pretend like I do."
- Photo: Wayward Pines / Fox
She Questioned Her Commitment To Acting
Sossamon considers herself a creative person but only recently came to the realization that acting is what she is meant to do.
In 2015, as Sossamon looked ahead to her roles in Wayward Pines and Sleepy Hollow, she noted her excitement to return to acting. According to Sossamon:
It’s exciting now to want to do it again. Desire, for all of us, is totally necessary to do anything worthwhile. I questioned that for a long time, and I thought maybe I just don't want to, maybe I don’t love it, but I think it’s just happening when it’s supposed to happen... But [acting] felt like it was supposed to be. I like to think it chose me instead of me choosing it, and I think I’m taking that very seriously now.
Sossamon continues to act, signing on to appear in High Holiday with Tom Arnold and Cloris Leachman in 2019.