Jennifer Jason Leigh's career before The Hateful Eight comprised of one of those resumes that could easily have stood the test of time. And before she was asked to star in the latest Quentin Tarantino film, her career almost ended up doing just that – all due to a hiatus she'd taken to enjoy being a mother.
Leigh spoke with The Evening Standard about how the birth of her son with director/ex-husband Noah Baumbach had taken her out of the film game, by choice. Of course, after any time out of the spotlight, work can be hard for an actor to find. This lead to Jennifer Jason Leigh settling into the possibility of moving on from the acting profession, stating the following as her mindset:
I felt like I had a really nice run and worked with some wonderful actors. Maybe it was time to do something else, maybe move into writing, maybe directing again — and then this happened.
At the very least, if The Hateful Eight didn't bring Jennifer Jason Leigh into the fold, she could have moved into writing and directing on a full time basis. So even if acting didn't pan out for her ever again, Leigh wouldn't have dropped off of the face of the Earth. Yet here we are, with a version of The Hateful Eight that not only brought Jennifer Jason Leigh back to acting with a vengeance, but also with an Academy Award nominee to show for it. And to think, if things had gone the way Quentin Tarantino had planned, it wouldn't have happened at all.
While Jennifer Lawrence was a strong candidate for the role of Daisy Domergue, her schedule between press for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and filming Joy didn't allow her to participate in The Hateful Eight, allowing Jennifer Jason Leigh to slip in and own the role herself. Despite Lawrence's acting chops, and the fact that Amber Tamblyn had played the role in the original live read – thus setting a precedent for a younger actor in the role – having Leigh in the role was a happy twist of fate.
Even Quentin Tarantino himself admitted that the experience of Jennifer Jason Leigh's career was a valuable asset when it came to bringing the murderous member of the Domingray Gang to life. And with all due respect to both Lawrence and Tamblyn, Leigh's performance was nothing short of classic Tarantino magic. Nailing all at once the comic, dramatic, and frantic aspects of such a multi-faceted character, Jennifer Jason Leigh should be a hotly talked about prospect for Best Supporting Actress. But should she lose out to her competition, it won't be a total tragedy, as her portrayal of Daisy Domergue will go down in history alongside the vast array of memorable Quentin Tarantino characters.
The Hateful Eight is in theaters now.