Crazy Girl Movie Roles

From Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction to Natalie Portman in Black Swan, the Hollywood actresses that brought insane to a whole new level—with the awards and cult fame to prove it.

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1. Sissy Spacek, Carrie (1976)

The first film to be adapted from a Stephen King novel, Carrie launched Sissy Spacek's career. Even though the actress was well into her twenties, she earned an Oscar nod for playing the shy high-school senior with telekinetic powers. When Carrie is crowned in pig's blood at her prom, she massacres the entire school with her crazy-chick wrath. In The New Yorker, Pauline Kael raved, "Spacek uses her freckled pallor and whitish eyelashes to suggest a squashed, groggy girl who could go in any direction … I don't see how this performance could be any better."

2. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction (1987)

"I'm not going to be ignored, Dan," says Glenn Close's Alex Forrest. After Dan (Michael Douglas) doesn't take his mistress' threat seriously, the family rabbit is the first of on her hit list. Close created the template for the modern-day crazy chick, and her performance as a deranged stalker made Fatal Attraction the second most successful film of 1987, with six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress. "I read it in one sitting, and when I finished my temperature had lowered," Close said during a recent Fatal Attraction reunion. "That was probably the film I did the most research on during my whole career… I always thought she was a human being in a lot of pain, she needed a lot of help."

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3. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct (1992)

She kills her lovers with an ice pick, she doesn't wear any underwear, and she has lesbian tendencies. Sharon Stone's Catherine Tramell is the crazy chick who oozes sex appeal. It's no surprise that when Michael Douglas starts investigating her for homicide, he falls for her trap—and into her sheets. "I read the script and thought, ‘Oh man, somebody's going to be so good in this," Stone said in an interview. "I never got why everybody didn't just die for the part. I guess a lot of people had more to lose than I did." The first film made $117 million, but its 2006 sequel was a bust. It's total domestic gross: a mere $6 million.

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4. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Single White Female (1992)

Before the days of Craigslist, the classified ads were where New Yorkers found roommates, which is how the newly single Allison (Bridget Fonda) meets Hedra (Jennifer Jason Leigh). "It's kind of fun having a girlfriend again," Allison says. If only she knew the truth. Their friendship quickly turns into an obsession for Hedra, who gets the exact same haircut as Allison and watches her while she's sleeping. Hedra then goes homicidal: knocking off Allison's puppy and her ex-boyfriend—a death by stiletto heel—which leads to the final bloody showdown. "The film is smooth, entertaining and believably sophisticated," wrote New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby. "It has far more psychological underpinnings than other movies of its type."

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5. Alicia Silverstone, The Crush (1993)

Before Clueless, Alicia Silverstone played a 14-year-old girl obsessed with an older man, and the role turned her into a household name. Like a modern-day Lolita, her character Adrienne was highly sexualized—but also nuts. Adrienne sunbathes naked in front of her parents' friend, a reporter named Nick (Cary Elwes), and calls him, teasing, "Guess what? I got my period." She then tries to kill his girlfriend by dumping a nest of wasps on her. However, the critics weren't impressed by Silverstone's bag of crazy tricks. The Crush only scored a 21 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Is it a new installment of the Amy Fisher story, or Fatal Attraction meets Mr. Rogers?" chided Hal Hinson in a review for The Washington Post.

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6. Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Here's another example of a crazy chick flick that made an actress famous. Before winning the Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, Angelina Jolie was just Jon Voight's daughter. In this drama adapted from Susan Kaysen's memoir, Jolie plays Lisa Rowe—by far the sexiest inmate in a mental institution that includes a pre- Mad Men Elisabeth Moss, Brittany Murphy, and Winona Ryder. Jolie's character is a total loose cannon, provoking the other girls to do bad things, often pushing them over the edge. At the end of the film, strapped to a bed, she even declares, "I'm not really dead." Hollywood immediately took notice. "Jolie brings the kind of combustible sexuality to the screen that our movies, in the age of Meg Ryan, have been missing for too long." wrote Owen Gleiberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly.

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7. Erika Christensen, Swimfan (2002)

Madison (Christensen) has her eyes set on the high school water polo hunk, Ben (Jesse Bradford), who is having trouble with his girlfriend. She invites him out to dinner, has sex with him in a swimming pool, and that's when she goes off the deep end. Like all good crazy chicks, Madison becomes completely infatuated. She sends Ben naked pictures of herself, shows up at his work and swim practice, and tries to kill his girlfriend by drowning her. The film only made $28 million at the box office, but it had cult appeal, especially among teenagers. "Men have liked that character a lot, even though she's out of her mind," Christensen says. "People like to be scared I guess, especially by a girl."

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8. Amanda Seyfried, Chloe (2009)

A word of advice: If you believe your husband is having an affair, don't hire a call girl to try to catch him for you. That's what happens in Chloe, a psychological thriller directed by Atom Egoyan with Amanda Seyfried in the title role. Chloe leads Catherine (Julianne Moore) on with stories about seducing her husband (Liam Neeson), until the two women have a passionate lesbian love affair. After that, Chloe won't leave Catherine alone—she even breaks into her house and sleeps with her son. Although Seyfried had hits with Mamma Mia! and Mean Girls, Chloe was the first role that really got her noticed by the critics. "This is not the kind of role she's been playing: bold, sensuous, intelligent," blogged film critic Roger Ebert. "With Chloe, you fully realize that here is an actress worthy of serious consideration."

Niko Tavernise / Fox Searchlight

9. Natalie Portman, Black Swan (2010)

Nina is easily one of the best psycho chicks in modern film, which is why Natalie Portman is the frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar. It's not just that she's a loner who lives with her creepy mother (Barbara Hershey) and constantly scratches herself to the point of bleeding. Nina's breaking point comes when she hallucinates a night of lesbian sex with her rival Lily (Mila Kunis) and then she thinks that she's killed her. "We knew the ballerina aspect of the movie was not going to appeal to most men, so we really pursued the women first," says Nancy Utley, president of Fox Searchlight, which bought ads for the Darren Aronofsky film during TV shows like Gossip Girl. But Black Swan has become a box-office phenomenon at $90 million and counting, and a surprising 45 percent of its audience is male.

Jaimie Trueblood / Sony Pictures

10. Leighton Meester, The Roommate (2011)

Rebecca (Leighton Meester) takes an instant liking to her college roommate, Sara (Minka Kelly). "I've always wanted a big sister," Rebecca says. They share each other's clothes and bond over pancakes—it's just too bad Rebecca is a crazy chick. She gets so jealous that her new BFF has other friends, she hunts them down one by one with a butcher knife and stabs them, Norman Bates-style. "It's not just playing somebody who is mean, this person has no base in reality," Meester says. While on set, "I was listening to random stuff that brought back emotions from other times—Sean Lennon and Mariah Carey. I shouldn't be telling you that. It sounds random," she says. The Roommate opens on Feb. 4.