(written from a Production point of view)
Famke Janssen (born 5 November 1965; age 55), pronounced as "Fahm-Kuh Yan-Sun", is the Dutch actress who played Kamala in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fifth season episode "The Perfect Mate". This was one of her first notable roles, and her first television appearance. Janssen filmed her scenes for "The Perfect Mate" between Friday 14 February 1992 and Wednesday 19 February 1992 and Friday 21 February 1992 and Tuesday 25 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16.
She was one of many actresses considered for the role of Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. However, Janssen wanted to work primarily as a film actress, so she turned down the role. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. 7))
Outside of Star Trek, Janssen is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Doctor Jean Grey in the X-Men films, acting alongside her Next Generation co-star Patrick Stewart, who played Professor Charles Xavier (or "Professor X"). She is also known for her role as James Bond villainess Xenia Onatopp in the 1995 film GoldenEye and for her recurring role as Ava Moore on the television series Nip/Tuck.
Early life and career
Janssen was born in Amstelveen, a city south of Amsterdam, part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands. Her name Famke means "little girl" in West Frisian. She moved to the United States in 1984, at age 19, and began her career in show business as a fashion model. She also studied writing and literature at Columbia University in New York before heading to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
After making her television debut on TNG, she made her film debut with a supporting role in the 1992 thriller Fathers & Sons. This was followed by a guest spot on Melrose Place with fellow Next Generation guest performer Stanley Kamel in 1994. That same year, she played the lead role in the 1994 TV movie Model by Day and co-starred in the film Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes, with Christopher Pettiet.
Janssen's breakthrough role came when she played the villainess Xenia Onatopp in the 1995 blockbuster James Bond film Goldeneye. She is one of only three Star Trek alumni to portray Bond girls; the others were fellow TNG guest actress Teri Hatcher and Discovery actress Michelle Yeoh, who both appeared in the subsequent Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. (Barbara Bouchet also appeared as a Bond girl in the 1967 unofficial spoof film Casino Royale.) Interestingly, Janssen and Hatcher both appeared together in the 1996 independent comedy film Dead Girl, which also featured Seymour Cassel, another TNG alum.
Janssen co-starred with Colm Meaney in the crime drama Monument Ave. (aka Snitch), which opened in 1998. That same year, Janssen appeared in two films with fellow TNG guest actress Bebe Neuwirth: Woody Allen's comedy Celebrity (also starring Winona Ryder) and Robert Rodriguez' science fiction thriller The Faculty (co-starring Christopher McDonald and Bebe Neuwirth). Janssen was seen in many other films that year, including The Gingerbread Man, Deep Rising, and Rounders.
Both Janssen and Jeffrey Combs appeared in the 1999 remake of the horror film House on Haunted Hill. Janssen then had the starring role in the 2000 film Love & Sex, in which she worked with Robert Knepper. This was followed by the 2000 film Circus, in which she played the female lead. Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr. also appeared in this film.
Famke Janssen in the X-Men films
Between 2000 and 2006, Janssen appeared as Dr. Jean Grey, a mutant with telepathic and telekinetic abilities, in the three blockbuster X-Men films: X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). In a somewhat interesting coincidence, Janssen's TNG character Kamala referred to herself as a mutant while explaining to Captain Picard the concept of an empathic metamorph.
In addition to working with Patrick Stewart on all three X-Men films, Janssen acted with Bruce Davison in the first two and with Kelsey Grammer in the last one. John Pyper-Ferguson and comics writer Chris Claremont also appeared in The Last Stand. The first two X-Men films were directed by Bryan Singer, while all three were co-produced by Ralph Winter.
Shortly after completing her work on the first X-Men film in 2000, Janssen returned to television with the first of two appearances as Jamie on the TV series Ally McBeal. The episode, "The Man with the Bag," also guest-starred Christopher Neiman, Jack Shearer, and William Windom.
Janssen had a recurring role as trans woman Ava Moore on the F/X drama series Nip/Tuck during the show's second season in 2004. She also appeared in an episode of the third season in 2005, through the use of deleted scenes from the previous season. Janssen reprised her role in two episodes of the series' sixth season in 2010. Among the performers she worked with on this series were Andrew Borba, Jane Daly, Billy Mayo, Barbara J. Tarbuck, Julie Warner, and Ruth Williamson.
Outside of the X-Men films, Janssen's recent film credits have included the 2001 crime comedy Made, the 2001 thriller Don't Say a Word, the 2002 action comedy I Spy (in which she worked with Malcolm McDowell), the 2004 comic drama Eulogy (with Rene Auberjonois, Sherman Howard, and Eric Pierpoint), and the 2005 horror thriller Hide and Seek. More recently, she played the lead role – that of a female pool shark – in the 2007 drama Turn the River. She also appeared in the 2008 comedy The Wackness and the 2009 thriller Taken also its sequel in 2012 Taken 2 in which she plays Lenore Mills.
Her most recent credits include the thriller Down the Shore (2011), the mystery film In the Woods (2012), the sequel to the 2008 thriller Taken (2012, with Leland Orser), the fantasy horror film Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013, with Derek Mears), and she reprised her role as Jean Grey in the new X-Men film The Wolverine.