If you were a fan of movies during the 90s, chances are you were very familiar with Lori Petty’s work.
The actress got her start in the late 80s on TV shows like The Thorns and Booker, but it was with A League of Their Own that she really started to pickup steam in Hollywood.
She was gorgeous, likable, funny, and just straight-up talented. After A League of Their Own she went on to wow us in big family hits like Free Willy, as well as more mature fare like The Glass Shield and In The Army Now.
And of course, let’s not forget one of the most awesome bad movies of the 90s – Tank Girl!
Shortly after though, she seemed to disappear! Even in the early 2000s plenty of people were asking “where is she now?” Was Tank Girl really a big enough flop to cause her to leave acting entirely?
Turns out the answer’s a little more complicated than you might think!
After Tank Girl bombed in the way that it did, Petty decided to take a break from major Hollywood productions, as she seemed to be tired of the spotlight.
That isn’t to say she stopped acting though! Quite the opposite; she actually decided to be more selective of her projects, appearing in more independent films that, while mostly ignored by mainstream audiences, were beloved by critics.
This wasn’t surprising to people who knew Petty, as she went on to state “I was thirty-something and I hadn’t married my agent or any guy co-stars. I never wanted to be a bombshell, I wanted to be an actor.”
Petty would stick to small roles through the next several years, but her next major success would actually be as a director. In 2008, she directed The Poker House, a movie about three sisters growing up in a brothel that was actually largely a retelling of her own life.
The movie was a major critical success, and most of all, it introduced the world to two then-unknown actresses you might have heard of: Jennifer Lawrence and Chloe Grace Moretz. In fact, director Debra Granik saw it and loved Lawrence’s performance so much, she ended casting her in a project called Winter’s Bone, and the rest is history.
Petty has been very proud of introducing Lawrence to the world, stating that “I cast her in her first film. She deserves 100 percent of her success, but I think I passed along 25 years worth of experience of being an actress to her.”
As to her acting career, Lori Petty has had something of a revival in recent years thanks to her role as Lolly Whitehill in Orange Is The New Black, which has earned plenty of critical and financial success for Netflix.