Before ‘Russian Doll’: What Was Natasha Lyonne’s Big Break?

Natasha Lyonne stars in the binge-worthy Netflix series Russian Doll. She portrays the central character, Nadia, who is a chain-smoking, drug-using software engineer living in New York City. Nadia becomes trapped in a time loop, doomed to relive her 36th birthday party, which always ends in her death. Each time she dies, Nadia wakes up, doomed to repeat the same day.

Many fans of the show devoured the eight-episode first season in one sitting, making Lyonne’s Russian Doll one of the most-binged shows of 2019, according to tvtime.com.

Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix

In addition to starring in the series, Lyonne flexes her creative muscles behind the camera. She co-created the show alongside Leslye Headland and Jamie Babbit. She also serves as an executive producer of the series and has directed one episode so far. Lyonne has earned rave reviews for Russian Doll from peers and fans, but the actress has a long list of other credits and has been working in Hollywood since her youth.

Natasha Lyonne, TV darling

In 1986, 7-year-old Lyonne landed a role on the wildly popular children’s television program, Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Her six-episode stint kicked off her career in Hollywood. Since then, the actress has taken on various roles in television movies, as well as notable guest-starring roles on network shows.

Her most famous television portrayal before Russian Doll was the role of Nicky on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black from 2013 to 2019. OITNB solidified Netflix’s status as a streaming giant, vaulting Lyonne and her co-stars to international fame. In an interview with IndieWire about the show, she mused, “I really grew up there in many ways.” 

Natasha Lyonne, movie star

Beyond her work in television, Lyonne has worked extensively in feature films. She has a penchant for independent cinema and has scored roles in indies like Girl Most Likely, The Rambler, and Jack Goes Home. But she has also starred in her share of big-budget hits.

Her breakthrough role in American Pie made Lyonne a household name. She reprised her character in two of the three sequels, American Pie 2 and American Reunion, and made appearances in other blockbuster movies and several short films. Most recently, Lyonne has garnered attention with a notable cameo in the film Ad Astra which stars Brad Pitt.

Natasha Lyonne, voice actor

Occasionally, Lyonne lends her distinctive voice to animated projects. Fans can check out Lyonne’s voice acting skills in her recurring roles on several animated shows including on Ballmastrz 9009, Big Mouth, The Simpsons, and Steven Universe, as well as the animated feature film, Robots.

Next up for Natasha Lyonne

The actress’ versatility and stellar work has cemented her status as a creative force in Hollywood.

This May, fans can catch Lyonne opposite Steve Carell, Rose Byrne, Topher Grace, and Chris Cooper in Irresistible. Later in 2020, Lyonne will appear with Andra Day and Evan Ross in director Lee Daniels’ new biopic, The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Audiences can also look forward to seeing her in Russian Doll Season 2, coming soon to Netflix.

Catch up on Russian Doll Season 1 on Netflix.